Dining Out On A Budget

dscf5651In a word – take your own.

Dining out in Perth, Western Australia is generally a safe experience. Very few people are killed by the food or drive-by shootings. Even the dodgiest of cafes get a visit from the health inspector once in a while. Sometimes armed with a flamethrower, mind…

Dining well, is another matter. Oh, the food in some places can be excellent – in others reasonable – and in others…nourishing. The chief problem is the price of the eats – WA has minimum wage laws and penalty rate laws that make staff serving the customers an expensive part of the restaurant. If you need ’em and the customers want ’em, someone has to pay for ’em. Hence the $ 19 hamburger, the $ 7 milkshake, and the $ 40 steak dinner. Thank God we are not a tipping culture.

The fast-food alternatives reduce the price somewhat at the expense of flavour, nutrition, and dining experience. But there are alternatives – if you have the nerve.

Say you are travelling somewhere down south. The need for a cuppa and a pie becomes almost overwhelming around Bunbury and if you don’t fancy the Shell roadhouse prices or the Macca’s on the strip, the trip down into the maze of city streets is your only alternative – unless you play it clever. Every Bunnings, Homecraft, or department store is selling ritzy wicker picnic baskets fitted with cutlery, plates, and glassware for cheap prices. They probably won’t last longer than three seasons, but if you pack them with salad, cold meat, a cooked chook, and either some bottles of drink or a thermos of coffee, you can pull off at the picnic section of the BP, Shell, or other roadhouse and help yourself. If the servo staff chase you away there are public picnic benches along every highway.

There is nothing you can buy in a restaurant, whether it be food or booze, that cannot be bought cheaper from the local Coles, Woolies, or IGA, and you are not paying wages to have someone serve it. You can put your thumb in the salad yourself for free. Don’t panic about washing-up…you can do it when you get to your destination – just pile the fragments back into the basket. Or feed them to the local wildlife.

The best part is, if the urge to feed strikes you halfway between here and there, you need not grind your teeth for a hundred miles while you crawl to the next roadhouse. Or grind them for another hundred thinking of the price of the Chicken Parma.


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