Welcome to Frigid Florida, the Land of Cheap Food

Well alright, I am exaggerating slightly. It is not frigid, and it is very sunny. But apparently Florida is having record cool temperatures right now, and what is up with that?! It’s still warm, and still at least 10-15 degrees warmer than Ontario, so it’s all good. But everyone here keeps going on about how cold it is. And I was watching a local news channel on Tuesday morning, and the meteorologist was all “Cover up those plants! Make sure your pets are inside!”

Please. I was still considering laying out by the pool in my bikini.

Anyway,  it’s supposed to warm up for the weekend, which means beach time, my friends! Evan and I have been trying to squeeze in all the non-beach activities while the weather isn’t the greatest. I think it’s a good plan.

We arrived on Monday evening, and by the time we got out of the airport, drove to Bradenton, dumped all our stuff at my parents’ (super cute) condo, it was 9pm and I needed dinner, and I needed it ASAP.

We drove around for a while, but by then nothing was really open so it was looking like it was going to be a fast food night. My only stipulation was that we had to go somewhere we didn’t have back home.

Enter Checkers. We do not have Checkers.


Actually we don’t have any fast food places where you can just walk right up and order from an outdoor window, so that was cool. Evan likes to double fist Coca-Cola.

I got a cheeseburger and fries and they were pretty good. Nothing to write home about (literally write home), but I liked it. And that was basically the beginning of my fat week, because let me tell you, if I was American I would be FAT. I cannot get over all the snacks you guys have that we do not, and how cheap the food is! It’s incredible! I’m so blown away that I am taking pictures of receipts.

Anyway, Tuesday morning we woke up and decided to go out for breakfast, since our dinner was less than stellar.

It is a DREAM of mine to go to IHOP. Dream. I see the commercials for it and it always looks so darn good and I’ve always wanted to go there. So, that’s where we went.

As I was perusing the menu, this caught my eye…


I wasn’t sure I was reading it correctly at first because that includes a double pancake with a bunch of goodies with it, PLUS an egg combo, for less than $7. Insane. I’m glad that someone was around to witness my reaction when I saw this menu because I practically peed my pants.

That’s obviously what I ordered. Though I did almost stray over to this…


Chicken and waffles! Such an interesting combination. Never would have thought of combining chicken and waffles, but looking at that picture it doesn’t look too bad at all. But it didn’t really hold a candle to the pancakes + bacon and eggs combo.


Doesn’t look exactly like the picture but MAN it was good. I ate every last bite and I am not exaggerating. I loved the grits/hashbrowns, whatever they were.

After breakfast we were trying to decide what to do, so as per Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers and my friend Lexy’s recommendations, we went to St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota.


It was sunny and gorgeous, and actually really nice if you were blocked by the wind. The wind was killer though. I’m pretty sure there may have been an actual wind chill.

St. Armands is a pretty touristy and busy location, but it was fun to browse around all the shops. My favourite was the hot sauce shop because they had free samples of everything.


With free tortilla chips! This is my kind of store. I was going crazy sampling everything, and then I accidentally tried some kind of ghost pepper sauce and I almost died. My mouth was on fire for about an hour afterwards, no matter what I ate to counteract it (mango peach salsa, yummmm).

We didn’t go in very many stores, since Evan and I were both not really in the mood for shopping, so we just walked around for a while and then we hit up Lido Beach!


It was within walking distance, so that worked out well. It was freezing and windy, but it was all turquoise and beautiful so that made up for it.

And I have a feeling it’s usually a lot more busy than this also…


We were nearly the only ones there.

After our Sarasota activities we headed back to Bradenton and hit up Smugglers Cove for some adventurous mini golfing.


Adventurous was right. There were live baby gators!


I totally thought they were fake until they started moving. But aww, they are kinda cute. Look at the little baby.


Can baby alligators still eat you? I’ll have to Google that.

They liked sunning themselves on the deck. Evan also enjoyed sunning his pale Canadian skin.


Smugglers Cove also had caves, and waterfalls, and a tropical mountain. It was pretty groovy.



It was a hilarious and fun time. Definitely the most fun I have ever had while mini golfing.

I’m usually pretty inconsistent at mini golf. I’ll start off alright and then I’ll take a nosedive into “I suck” territory. But that didn’t happen! I probably played my best game ever, and I got FOUR hole in one’s. And I beat Evan though, so that’s all that matters. But only by one.

I was excited about this, because loser paid for dinner, which we had decided was going to be at Hungry Howies, an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.

Good thing it was cheap.


Evan and I saw this receipt and both burst out laughing. That much for all-you-can-eat pizza x2 and a PITCHER of beer? Allow me to put this in perspective for you Americans. $6.99 for a pitcher of beer in Ontario is UNHEARD of. That is ridiculous. It’s usually $6 for a pint! I really can’t get over this. And I was dying over this sign too:


Cannot believe how cheap that is. I don’t know how you Americans aren’t drunk all the time. I just don’t understand.

Anyway, we went to town, since it was so cheap.




I also had a salad and a bunch of breadsticks that went unpictured. I was absolutely stuffed. It was so good, and I am still in awe over how inexpensive it was. So I will say it again. If I lived here I would be a million pounds.

Today we did some outlet shopping (exciiiiiting), and wandered around Anna Maria Island, but we’ll be going back there so I’ll talk about it later. Tomorrow is Orlando and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a sleepover with Paula! I am dying of excitement.


41 responses to “Welcome to Frigid Florida, the Land of Cheap Food

  1. I am cracking up by how you think everything is so cheap! I think you finally figured out why there is an obesity epidemic in this country!! So much good food and so cheap–ahhhhh!

  2. Awe. So happy to see you are having fun and trying out some of my fav Florida hangouts! Smuggler’s Cove is the best!
    And I know what you mean about the food. It is so cheap and abundant!
    Can’t wait to hear about more of your adventures!

  3. Alcohol is the cheapest in New Orleans. Every two weeks Yellowtale wine goes on sale for $4.99, so I refuse to buy it when it’s $5.29 like usual. Forget that!
    But then when I go on vacation somewhere else I’m appalled when I’m charge $9 for a martini. Sticker shock.
    Also I don’t know what the exchange rate is right now, but generally US dollars are valued more than Canadian dollars, so maybe our $7 pitcher of beer was like $8 Canadian.

  4. Awww this post made me laugh (as usual) but it also made me sad. Yes, food can be insanely cheap and abundant here. However… in metropolitan areas or in anything above mass-produced fast food chains (Ihop and Hungry Howie’s definitely fall into this category), food is probably priced similar to Canada. Yes, you can eat cheap at places like those, but good, local restaurants would be SO MUCH BETTER. But, I’m a food snob so maybe everyone will disagree.

  5. I love your food posts! I’m drooling right now.

  6. And now you know why we get so fat so easily here in America!

  7. LOL. This post has me dying. With the exception of IHOP, you are going to all the places I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Checkers! Hungry Howies! Golden Corral! I really need to show you some GOOD food and drinks! 🙂

    Also, isn’t our dollar worth more than the Canadian dollar? Maybe that’s where some of the cheapness comes in?

  8. Hahaha, food and beer are not usually that cheap in the U.S. It looks like you’re at fast food/chain places and also in a touristy area so that would be where the cheap food is at! At good local restaurants the prices are much higher, and if you are in most cities here that goes double. Here in D.C. a happy hour special for a beer is $5 since the regular prices are higher than that for example. Make sure you eat some real food at a real restaurant before you leave!! Glad you’re having fun!

  9. This makes perfect sense to me because when I went to Canada I was like OMFG this is expensive!!!

  10. FUN.

  11. I am beyond jealous that you are going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Take a million and one pictures so I can live vicariously through you! Have an amazing time!

  12. This made me smile for so many reasons.
    1. We ARE drunk all the time. Cost efficient use of time. You should see how it is in the states with snow and zero sunshine (drive through liquor stores/margarita stands).
    2. Your excitement for IHOP is so cute. Americans usually go there when they’re drunk or hungover ;).
    3. I’m excited for Paula to show you some REAL American staples to show that we can actually cook good food.
    Glad you’re having fun!!

  13. That is the exact reaction I had in India. A two liter of bottle of water for forty cents!! I almost died. Welcome to America, enjoy and feel free to get fat and drunk.

  14. You are eating at the worst of the worst in America. These posts are cracking me up 🙂 I think people usually only go to those places when they’re drunk or hungover. Pints are $6 lots of places here, but not pints of Bud Light. That’s cheap pretty much all over. Have fun!

  15. I am SO happy to hear you’re living it up via fatty American eats while vacationing in FL – more power to ya, lady!! It’s awesome Evan’s tagging along right by your side during all of this too – a real keeper, I tell ya!

    Few things bring me such joy as a cheap beer & pizza special 🙂 Enjoy yourself! I can’t wait to hear about Harry Potter day!!

  16. I know other people said it already, but as an American I am also shocked by how cheap that food was! I guess I spend too much time in big cities!

  17. No way! My parents literally just got back from there. We went to Sarasota almost every year when I was growing up, I love it! It almost feels like a home away from home. I also hit up the Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2 years ago with Ben and we had loads of fun.

    Also if you happen to pass back through Sarasota make sure to hit up The Bubble Room for dinner…I think you would love it.

    • I looooved Sarasota. It was beautiful. I didn’t get this comment until after I got home and I so wish I had seen it earlier, we were looking around for somewhere for dinner in Sarasota one night and we totally would have gone to the Bubble Room! Oh well, we’re gonna go back 😉

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  20. Not that I want to promote McDick’s, but if you’re ever in Kingston and have a late night and/or after bar craving for it, there is a walk up window on Princess St. (downtown). Also, there is an IHOP in Niagara Falls, ON just down the road from the Outlet Mall! Mmmmm….

    Something that many people don’t realize about the States is that they do not have one regulated server’s min. wage like we do in Canada, which is why they can sell their meals much more cheaply as their calculated food cost is lower. In Florida, their server’s min. wage is something like $4.77/hr! In some States it can be as low as $2.13/hr…

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