Author Topic: Eating Out During Work Trips  (Read 2176 times)

mayodt

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Eating Out During Work Trips
« on: June 26, 2018, 06:54:22 PM »
Hey Guys,

Recently I've gotten a new job and I often go for overnight stays away from home. Whenever I have to stay overnight I get paid a per diem for the day, regardless of if I spend a dime or I spend it all I get the same amount. I want to save as much of this money as possible but I also don't want to seem disrespectful or cheap to my coworkers. I usually go on trips in 2 man crews, so I am out with one other co-worker and they almost always want to go to a sit down restaurant for lunch and dinner and even the cheapest options seem to run me $15+ once I factor in a tip.

How can I avoid spending so much on dinners/lunches? Is there a way I can respectfully say no to going out to lunch/dinner with them, or try to convince them to go to cheaper locations? I am more than willing to pack my own lunches/dinner if I am only gone a night or two (which is usually the case), but I would not expect to be able to convince my coworkers to do the same.

Thanks in advance!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 06:58:26 PM »
I have this work I need to finish, you guys go without me.

solon

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 07:01:15 PM »
I would consider it a chance to make friends or strengthen existing relationships. Friends are extremely valuable, and the way you get friends is to hang out with them.

Could you go to the restaurant and get an appetizer and a glass of water and only eat half of it?

mayodt

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 07:24:58 PM »
I do enjoy going to eat with my coworkers so maybe this is the best option - pack myself food, go out to dinner with my coworkers then order something cheap and small since im not hungry anyways, for longer trips maybe treat myself once every few days.

Thanks!

red_pill

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2018, 08:24:09 PM »
I have the same circumstances and just tell guys that restaurant food rots my guys and Iím just going to hang in.

lbmustache

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2018, 10:01:43 PM »
Just tell them you got some bad food poisoning once and are trying to lay off restaurant food for awhile, maybe you're doing a new healthy diet, etc.

Also - totally jealous of y'all that get to keep money like this. My old company was super cheap and would never...

mayodt

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2018, 07:28:29 AM »
I order the soup a lot when I'm in situations like this. And then have food stashed away in my hotel room in case I'm starving later. I'll make it a point to at least eat one meal with coworkers on trips to maintain relationships.

This sounds like a great idea, I didn't even think of this before, if I pick the right ones they can also be healthier too than a normal meal. I can probably just ask for it at the same time as the other's meals so I don't have it extremely early?

Just tell them you got some bad food poisoning once and are trying to lay off restaurant food for awhile, maybe you're doing a new healthy diet, etc.

Maybe I will do this once and a while but ultimately I think it is a good idea to converse with my coworkers at meals. Thanks for the idea!

Sailor Sam

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2018, 07:35:41 AM »
I, too, like to stash away as much sweet, sweet per diem as possible, while also being compelled towards mandatory fun and microbrewerys.

For trips over 1 week, I go out to dinner the first 1-2 nights, then 1-2 times each of the following weeks, and definitely the final night. The other nights, I tell everyone I'm introverting, and need to recharge.

For 1 week trips, I go out the first 1-2 dinners, as well as the final night.

Less than 2 week, I might try to skip one dinner, but in general I simply go out every night.

As for food selection, I try to steer towards sushi, which can usually be bought either al a cart, or a single economical roll. If sushi isn't acceptable, I make sure to order something that will allow leftovers. That neatly solves the lunch issue. "Sorry, I've got leftovers. Wasting food makes me feel so guilty." I also avoid alcohol, unless it's the last night.

This approach has always allowed me to bank some per diem, but never as much as I'd like. My coworkers see me as socially capable, while also thinking my introversion runs deep. Which is the ultimate indicator of a true compromise - equal unhappiness on all sides.

Dicey

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2018, 07:50:18 AM »
Start by sussing out which of your colleagues have frugal tendencies. If you can ID a couple, when you're traveling with them you can make a game of seeing who can save the most of their per diem.

FindingFI

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2018, 10:11:06 AM »
The last work trip I went on was with a co-worker that from previous conversations I knew was a bit strapped for cash.  With that info in hand, I suggested a less fancy, extended- stay hotel with kitchens in every room and hitting the grocery store to make meals instead of eating out for the week and he was 100% on board. 

On other trips when the majority opted for a regular hotel and eating out for dinner and I have packed a Tupperware container, fork and knife and eaten dinner leftovers for lunch to save some without coming off as cheap. Or even grabbed a rotisserie chicken and some microwaveable veggies to pack lunches.

nereo

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2018, 10:29:08 AM »
I've been in similar work situations. 

I'd reiterate what Solon said about eating out being a potential networking opportunity, so don't give it up entirely.  Some of the best projects have come out of lunches or dinners with coorworkers.

That said, there's a wide spectrum between blowing your entire per diem on body-wrecking food and becoming known as the social-introvert who only eats meals made in their hotel room.  First, recognize which meals offer networking opportunities and which are just meaningless cash drains. Having dinner with the same guy/gal you see every day in the office probably won't add much, but if its contacts you don't interact with you might think differently about going.  Second, there are always cheaper options, even at nicer establishments. Not ordering alcohol is hte biggest, and stick to ordering a single dish instead of an app, main course and dessert. If feel you need an excuse tell them you're cutting back for health reasons or in solidarity with your spouse or whatever. Or just say too much restaurant food makes you feel like crap.
Finally, in most business settings the default seems to be whatever is easiest.  Often this is whatever is closest to the hotel/conference center. If YOU take initiative to seek out cheaper, healthier options most of your colleagues will be grateful to go along. You can even use it to your advantage by inviting people you want to network with.

freya

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2018, 10:37:13 AM »
I quit eating lunches with colleagues on away trips but always make a point of going to the communal dinner.  That works well and fulfills the social obligations just fine.  Unfortunately it's usually a large group that splits the bill evenly, which means that there's little point in economizing AND as a woman I kinda get penalized for not eating as much as the guys.  I just have to accept this as a work-related cost.  (I do try to suggest lower cost restaurants though.)

Packing leftovers is key.  Hotel refrigerators are not usually a problem as long as you realize they're actually at beverage cooler temperature and won't hold leftovers for more than a day or two.  I have had issues with hotels that don't provide microwaves.  That's an increasing trend, since it's a way to squeeze more money out of you as you're expected to eat at their overpriced restaurants.  Often you can request one, but on the occasions where the answer was "no" I take along a handy portable slow cooker ("Hot Logic").

charis

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2018, 11:09:03 AM »
Order light, as mentioned, but a skip a few dinners by saying you want to hit the gym.  As a parent with little time to work out, I wouldn't question that at all.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Eating Out During Work Trips
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2018, 01:12:40 PM »
I worked for a company years ago that had per diem then did away with it. Once they did away with it, meal costs were unlimited. I did a lot of trips and enjoyed many good meals. I am in the school of using the per diem money to eat some good meals and enjoy the company you eat your meals with. But if you really feel you need to save your per diem, go with what others have said. Soup, appetizer, salad. However, I think if others are having a full meal and you are eating skimpy, you will probably make them feel uncomfortable to order full meals.