My $7.20 Waffle House Breakfast and $30 Grocery Haul | South Carolina
This past weekend, Steven and I took a last minute trip to South Carolina to visit his family. While the circumstances of why we were there were devastating, we made the best of a bad situation by having great conversation over good food with the people he cares about the most.
While there, I heard the term "Waffle House" about a dozen times. Everyone kept mentioning that they had to visit it before the trip was over. I found out it's a popular Southern chain restaurant with over 2100 locations. And despite all those locations, being a West Coast girl, I had never heard of the franchise before. And let me tell you, being a San Francisco girl who loves my breakfast food, I was blown away by the prices and service. That pleasant surprise inspired me to check out the grocery stores in the area to see if I could find any deals to bring back to the Bay with me. Because as you may know, we here in San Francisco get gypped out of our money every day on everything from groceries to restaurant food. So join me on this short but fruitful day of savings on the other side of the country
WAFFLE HOUSE BREAKFAST: $7.20
I've been to many a waffle house in my time, but never the Waffle House franchise. So I was excited to try something I can't get on my side of the country. The same way that I eat Eggslut every time I'm in LA and Shake Shack every time I'm in New York. And due to my recent purchase of a personal waffle iron, I am now a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the popular breakfast item. So I was ready to dig into some whipped diner butter topping.
Check out the sweet prices on the menu below.
I couldn't believe my eyes. It was even less expensive than a Bay Area Denny's. Which I suppose makes sense, as the set-up of the restaurant is closer to that of a McDonalds than an old-fashioned diner. But I have to say, the service was moreso the quality of a homey diner than a fast food location. I was greeted by staff when I arrived and had a full-on sit-down restaurant experience with a very sweet waitress who checked up on us way more frequently than the people who serve me $50 brunch plates in SF.
I was in the mood for something savory, but also refused to leave the South without trying their titular dish, so I ordered a 2 Egg Breakfast with hash browns and toast, as well as a chocolate chip waffle.
If you'll do the math with me from the menu above, that's $3.20 for the waffle + $0.30 for chocolate chips + $3.70 for the 2 Egg Breakfast, bringing this delicious and filling meal to $7.20...which is less than a dry sandwich from the dreaded Specialties franchise back in the Bay. To give even more perspective, the price for each element was about as much as an SF Surcharge or an extra helping of guacamole on your Huevos Rancheros at a bougie breakfast joint. And check out how much better looking this food is compared to Denny's!
Steven coincidentally spent the exact same amount of money ($7.20) on his breakfast: The ultra-filling hashbrown bowl, which consisted of cheese, eggs, breakfast sausage and grits!
And the food was pretty great for the price. I can see why it's so popular. I wish I had something with the same feel to it in San Francisco. But I guess if I could get that same feeling anywhere, it wouldn't be special anymore. Plus, I've learned that if I start supporting family businesses for brunch in San Francisco, I get a better sense of community and a better customer service experience...just with a higher tab. Hey, SF bills are SF bills.
Check out Steven and his dad smiling for the camera as I took some shots outside the restaurant. And shout out to Steven's parents for treating us to food during the trip!
And can we just take the time to appreciate the fact that without any hesitation, our waitress gave Steven a free refill of his Diet Coke in a to-go cup? Now that's service for you.
GROCERY HAUL $30
The night before my trip to Waffle House, Steven and his brother Doug invited me to join them for a beer run. We visited a shop called Bi-Lo, which is of course as the name suggests, a discount food store. Not being a beer person myself, I wandered into the pantry aisles to find sizable boxes of Quaker Instant Oats (which I like using when I'm strapped for time and cannot for the life of me cook my own rolled oats) for $3! That's about half the price I used to find this stuff for at Safeway in the city. I quickly scooped up two boxes and thanked the Lord that I didn't overstuff my suitcase for the first time in my life.
So after those two money-saving experiences got me hyped, I utilized my last hour with Steven's mother before we both left on our flights home, to check out one last store we don't have in California: Publix.
According to Steven's mom, Publix is a more upscale grocery store. So I checked it out and was not disappointed. I found all the ingredients I've had on the backburner of my grocery list for months, at about 70% the cost of what they'd be in San Francisco. I finally picked up some specialty flour and yeast packets for when we make bread or rising pastries, as well as some black sesame seeds and star anise for specialty Asian dishes. Plus, I saved big on some staple pantry items of ours including cinnamon, paprika, cumin and Tazo teas. I swear the tea was almost half off at this place.
Another huge shoutout to Steven's mother for taking me on one last trip around the block to find these! All in all, I spent about $30 on all these goods, which I definitely couldn't have made happen in San Francisco.
A lot happened during our trip to South Carolina. It was a very emotional weekend for us and everyone around us. But I wanted to share a small snippet of the light-hearted fun I had there too, because I truly had a great time. I always like to visit places that are far from where I live and very different than what I'm used to. It's always a breath of fresh air to peek into a town that is part of other people's everyday lives. And the fact that we were in a town where many of Steven's family members have lived made it all the more important that I take a good hard look at everything.
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