The $10 Challenge: How I make it happen


July 2, 2010 by Ashlee Clark Thompson

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.

4 thoughts on “The $10 Challenge: How I make it happen

  1. Matt says:

    have you tried Selena’s at Willow Lake Tavern out in Anchorage? It might put the $10 Challenge to the test, but I think that you would enjoy it. Its mainly Cajun and Italian Food and is located at 10609 Lagrange Rd…..just a thought!


  2. Keith says:

    Vietnam Kitchen.

  3. can i say ::flatlines:: at that song?!

    you should try jazzyblu one day,
    so that’ll give us an excuse to go.

  4. […] The $10 Challenges have given me a great chance to rediscover my hometown. I’ve learned a lot about the city and how to eat well on a tight budget. […]

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