Author Topic: Per Diem What would you do  (Read 6089 times)

mozar

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Per Diem What would you do
« on: January 20, 2015, 08:50:28 PM »
Hello,
I have my first ever business trip coming up next week. The per diem will be $240, which is quadruple my weekly food budget. I have seen lots of threads about how to be frugal at a hotel, but not going all out. I already save 50% of my high income. I'm more excited about eating fancy olives than saving fifty bucks at this point.

What would you buy from the grocery store (it might be Food Lion)? I'm thinking gorp, fancy olives, cheese, smoked salmon, salami, berries, salad, beef jerky, juice, and nice tomatoes. I'm going to North Carolina (a military base in the middle of no where).

I will ask about a mini fridge tomorrow. A microwave is unlikely. I will eat around three dinners at the hotel in the room. And I will have to make lunch for five days. I don't think I'm ready to pack a panini press or an induction warmer. Besides I'm not that crazy about hot sandwiches, I don't like most foods that you only need to add hot water because they are usually processed crap, and I don't like those Indian food pouches.

Thoughts?

mom2_3Hs

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2015, 09:42:29 PM »
How does your per diem work?  That amount sounds like it is for hotel + food, not just food (if that is your daily rate).  My husband gets the federal per diem rate for food whether he spends it or not (sadly, he always spends it); I have to turn in receipts and get reimbursed for my actual expenses.

Personally I would go to Yelp or Urban Spoon and read restaurant reviews.  My town has pizza, Chinese and fast food, so when I travel for work I eat ethnic foods or at farm-to-fork places.  If you really are stuck with grocery store food, I would go the antipasti route you talked about, or see if they have a salad bar or deli.

Goldielocks

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2015, 09:46:30 PM »
If you are packing a bag,   bring some food from home with you!  some items like rice, salami, oatmeal, etc are much much cheaper bought in bulk.

Bring your own condiments for flavouring (or you will throw away mostly full bottles of whatever, bring your own salt!), plastic cutlery, a cutting knife and a bowl.

Buy simple foods and eat it over the week (same items).  If you have a fridge, some people buy one restaurant meal (pizza?) and eat it over 3 days.

vagon

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2015, 09:47:59 PM »
If you have no way of heating your food you should probably rethink the sandwich press or a pressure cooker.
That said you could get a roast chicken from a store and use that for several meals, initially hot and then cold on sandwiches, salads etc.
Same for pizza and some pastas which you could eat cold next day.

Other than that you could look up raw food diet recipes to see if you like any of them.

horsepoor

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2015, 09:57:19 PM »
I like to make big salads - basically buy the smaller clamshell of mixed baby greens, an avocado and a lemon (this is instead of dressing for me).  If it's Wal-Mart, they have a pico de gallo in the produce department that is basically diced tomato, onion and cilantro, so I buy that and throw it on my salads instead of separately buying and cutting up those ingredients.  You could certainly add some nice olives and cheese, or maybe marinated artichoke hearts, chicken from the deli, etc.

The clamshell is important because I take part of the greens out, put them in a plastic bag, and use the clamshell to assemble and eat the salad, clean it out, and put the other half of the greens back in to store. 

If you put produce in a hotel fridge, check that it's not on the coldest setting or you'll end up with ruined, frozen produce.

gimp

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2015, 10:00:48 PM »
Do they give you cash or do they pay for what you spend?

When I flew for business, I had a food allowance - but it was reimbursed, not given to me. It was $50 a day and I could never eat enough to spend that much.

(One day I spent only $6 and my boss's boss asked what happened.)


Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2015, 01:00:08 PM »
I'm all for saving your per diem money but make sure you don't miss any important business opportunities by doing so.  I don't know your field but a lot can happen at those dinners out with coworkers.  If it is just you traveling, disregard.  I'd say be frugal but if there are opportunities for group meals, even if it means spending your per diem, I'd do a few.  Again, disregard if you will be financially independent and quitting shortly.  If you still need a career for a few more years I'd consider a meal or two with colleagues an investment.  (Particularly where your company is paying for it.)

JLee

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2015, 01:28:00 PM »
Our per diem is $65/day (for food), but we are only reimbursed what we spend. So, if I'm traveling for work, I eat out and I eat well. I'd verify exactly how yours works before planning.

mozar

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2015, 06:10:13 PM »
Thanks for your answers.
The $240 is just for food. When I put in my expenses the line will say "$240 per diem" and I will get the whole amount even if I spend under. I plan on having a couple dinners with my co-workers but the area is mostly fast food, which I won't eat.

They like to get drunk together and I don't drink and there is only one car... also there will be no networking (really). I'm a subcontractor and their company cannot hire me. Maybe in a few years after this contract I'll see them again but its unlikely.
Thanks for the link totoro, from 2012!

Mini fridge and microwave are secured!

Josiecat

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2015, 12:45:27 PM »
$240 a DAY for food????   Wwwwwhhhhhhaaaaaaaattttt?  Dang, that's amazing dude.

purplepants

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2015, 01:36:15 PM »
$240 a DAY for food????   Wwwwwhhhhhhaaaaaaaattttt?  Dang, that's amazing dude.

I'm thinking the total of his per diem for the trip will be $240 - like maybe $60/day for a 4 day trip.

mozar Goldsboro, Fayetteville, or Jacksonville?  I can give you restaurant and grocery recommendations if you would like!

mozar

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 05:40:05 PM »
The trip is 5 and a half days. So about $43 a day.
I am going to New Bern NC. Is there a Jacksonville NC? I'm going to Jacksonville Florida next.

purplepants

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2015, 01:28:12 PM »
Yes!  Jacksonville, NC is where USMC Camp Lejeune is located.  Be really glad you're not going there. 

New Bern is about 45 minutes away from Jacksonville and is a picturesque little waterfront town not far from MCAS Cherry Point. 

I'm jealous as hell that you get to go there on business, it's a lovely place to visit!

mozar

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Re: Per Diem What would you do
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2015, 08:29:06 AM »
Quote
I'm jealous as hell that you get to go there on business, it's a lovely place to visit!
Really? OK.