I’ve made my best decisions on a whim.
Studying abroad in England. Applying and receiving an internship at the Washington Post. Quitting my job to pursue a year-long volunteer gig.
And recently, the $10 Challenge.
I created the Challenge as a fun way to be responsible about my spending money. I noticed that I usually spent about $10 on a meal, so that became my price ceiling for how much I could indulge at a restaurant.
Nine weeks later, the idea has transformed into a weekly game I play and share with fellow Louisville diners. The $10 Challenge has also given me a wonderful opportunity to use food to rediscover the diversity in my hometown, Louisville, Ky.
Along the way, I’ve adopted a few methods to the madness of the challenge. Here is a look at some of the unofficial guidelines that govern the $10 Challenge:
- $10 must cover tax and tip. If not, I’ve failed that Challenge. And speaking of failure…
- I don’t always succeed. There are moments when it’s next to impossible to only spend 10 bucks on a meal. Sometimes it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s not.
- I rarely order a beverage. Eliminating soft drinks and alcoholic beverages is the easiest way to cut down on the bill. The exception has been the week I ordered red bush iced tea from Hillbilly Tea. I figure you should order a drink if it’s in the name of the restaurant.
- Splitting an entrée is an acceptable way to meet the Challenge. Pizza is a prime example of a way to splurge for less.
- Ordering the special is an easy way to get a full belly on a tight budget. Take Hillbilly Tea, for example — the Billybox included a variety of food that wasn’t on the usual menu, and the entrée was only $8. Specials allow you to get a great deal on new food. What’s not to love?
- I use the Challenge to explore. There’s more to Louisville’s dining scene than the Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue corridors. The city is full of communities that offer a variety of diverse cuisine. I look forward to not only discovering new restaurants, but new neighborhoods in the city.
- I take suggestions. I don’t have a formula for picking a restaurant each week. My choices have been based on places I’m familiar with, suggestions from friends and reviews in local publications. Do you have a place that would be great for the Challenge? Leave a comment or send an e-mail.