Cheap Eats in My Sweat Suit and Ponytail

Back Camera

This was actually one of the first things that I wanted to blog about, because Cheap Eats, in fact, are an important, but often hidden, issue for many of us.  However, often, a so-called savvy sophisticated palette would rather not admit that there are days we run around incognito in our sweat suits, sunglasses and ponytails doing all the errands on our to-do list.  We’ve been mad bargain hunting at Ross or Marshalls in search of a pair of killer jeans without eating much more than a banana, soda and granola bar since day break.  Or, we might have just finished two final exams and a paper after pulling an all-nighter nourished by a five-hour energy bottle; I’ve been there, too!

Suddenly, we realize that it’s time to eat!  At this point, we are desperately driving around in search of a low-key place to eat dinner discreetly for under $10, or to back track, lunch for $5, in the hopes of being unseen by anyone we know. Thinking about the situation at home, we know the fridge shelves are scantily clad with next to nothing edible.  Yet, these frosted glass shelves are covered, indeed,  with week-old uneaten leftovers, expired eggs and milk; the fridge drawers are filled with wilted cilantro, Italian parsley..shriveled tomatoes, jalapenos and half-onions.  There is no time left to grocery shop for fresh recipe ingredients let alone is there energy left to prepare a decent meal with a pile of dishes left in the sink from last night.  And to top that off, we’ve used up our weekly food budget dining finely and cooking fancy earlier in the week.  At the moment, I only have myself to feed in my empty nest. so it’s not as difficult a choice to dine out at a cheap eat for one.  I’m not feeding a big family, here.

So, it’s time to eat, and I’m at a strip mall by Marshalls!  However, McDonald’s and Burger King are no longer even a dining option; never again shall I traverse the Fast Food Nation path in this age of enlightened living!  Then, I see an oasis, and a nostalgic one at that – Ohana Hawaiian BBQ.  I first went here with my older son before dropping him back off at his college about one hour away from our home.  It must have been after a Christmas or Spring Break a few years ago.  I had to feed him a good meal before sending him back off into campus, and I wanted to share some quality mother-son time with him.  Although, I offered to take him to the restaurant of his choice as I always do, he opted for a quick cheap eat at Ohana Hawaiian BBQ.  And, apparently, he had learned to eat nutritious food economically in his years at college better than I have in all my years.  He ordered the Ohana Supa Bowl for $4.88.  I was worried if that was truly enough to feed my grown up child, but he seemed very happy with it.  We enjoyed talking about little things and watching the food channel on the wall-mounted TV as we sat in a yellow laminate booth, together.

Back Camera

So on my errand day, I had my cheap eats in my sweat suit and ponytail at Ohana Hawaiian BBQ.  Above is the Hawaiian BBQ Chicken for $6.45, but I opted for my son’s choice – the Ohana Supa Bowl for $4.88.  I’d have snapped a nice photo of it if I wasn’t so darn hungry.  It is advertised to contain over one pound of great food in every bowl!  Served with steamed rice and mixed vegetables. (mine had broccoli and cabbage)  For the entree, it came with your choice of BBQ chicken, BBQ beef, Curry chicken katsu, Chicken katsu, Chicken cutlet w/gravy, Loco moco, Breaded shrimp, Kalua pork w/cabbage, or Volcano chicken.  I chose the BBQ Chicken.  Everything tasted fresh and healthy, and it came with a side of a teriyaki soy sauce of sorts.  I felt like there was a ton of good eats in that Supa Bowl!  I also squirted one of my favorite condiments over everything – Sriracha sauce.  It comes in a bottle and most Vietnamese restaurants have it on their tables.

Sriracha Sauce

All in all, I didn’t mind eating alone in my sweats incognito, since I had the fond memory of eating here with my son in days of past gone by.  The food was really good, and I felt like I had scored on the cheap healthy eat aspect of it.  Do you have a favorite Cheap Eat?  Please post a comment about it if you do!  If you are interested in a list of local Cheap Eats in the Bay Area, click on the SF Chronicle article below called Bargain Bites 2012 for some good will hunting.  Bon Appetit!

Bargain Bites 2012



  • Maryam says:

    I have to try this place! Cyrus and I enjoy eating at Babalou’s Mediterranean in Walnut Creek, another excellent “cheap eat”.

  • Selvi says:

    We have a lot of favorite cheap eats in Portland! When I am doing my errands and shopping, I usually go to Noodles. It’s a chain up here, maybe you guys have it too. I always get the Tuscan linguine made without the cream and a side cucumber salad. It is delicious, healthy, and cheap! They use some kind of special cooking wine/vinegar.

    • admin says:

      Selvi, thanks for the recommend! I haven’t seen Noodles in the Bay Area yet. Sounds delicious for a cheap eat! Will be on the look out..

  • Like your style of expressing simple and complicated day to day living. And it is very down to earth.
    Started to look for this Hawaiian eating place that serve healthy prepared foods for reasonable price .
    It is not in our area yet.I am looking forward that they open near Brandon Florida soon.

  • Sharon Burke says:


    Bob and I often eat here when we go to The Dome for a movie. Really good food, really cheap. Great article!

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Sharon! True, it’s just around the corner from The Dome. It’s nice to know I wasn’t just imagining that the food was really good!! I feel validated, now.;)

  • Meg Burns says:

    I am so glad to hear that you, a foodie and cooking goddess, have a fridge that looks like mine! :) Our favorite cheap eats place near Milton closed a few years ago — dinner for the 4 of us for $28! Of course, here in Pellegrino we just run down to the pizzeria for a large 3 topping, ~$7, so we’re doing okay on that score!

    • admin says:

      Hi Meg darling! You are the foodie and cooking goddess, but I shall take the compliment you slid in there.:) How is Pellegrino treating you? The food dinner deals sound ridiculously amazing and to die for!!!

  • kausarbilal says:

    Frugal Eating! You addressed a very important but interesting issue that we all come across but don’t speak up. nice idea and interesting post. Enjoyed reading it.

  • Michele says:

    Thanks for the advice Valli! Your article is convincing me to give this place a try. You are a great writer!

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    • admin says:

      Thank you “mens suits”!! I’m glad you are enjoying the articles, so please subscribe with your email address. You will get an email update every time I post a new article.:) And, by the way, please feel free to send a nice professional ladies’ suit size 6 my way if that is your line of business perhaps?? Anyway, I’m joking, but I’m very happy you like the site.:D

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