New Orleans isn't a place for pennypinchers. The pace in the Big Easy is, well easy, which means you don't want to be watching every nickle and dime, especially when you're on vacation. That said, the savvy traveler knows that there are ways to get around big ticket items and high dollar restaurants without sacrificing the quality of the experience.
As far as food goes, if you have a bucket list of restaurants to try, consider going for lunch instead of dinner. The food will be as delish, but you'll pay a fraction of the cost. Another good move is to belly up to the bar at Happy Hour. Many restaurants, most really, offer deals on drinks and reduced price nibbles, usually in the 4-6 pm range, but that can stretch into more hours depending on the season. Domenica, for instance, on Canal Street in the Roosevelt Hotel, dishes a kickin' happy hour seven days a week from 3-6 pm, offering killer breaks on drinks, wine and beer and half price pizza. The locals know about this one, so you can expect a crowd unless you get there early.
The best way to enjoy New Orleans culture and architecture is on foot - FREE - or by streetcar headed to the Garden District - a bargain at just $1.25. Soak up the sunshine, gander at the river and mix in with locals at one of the city's gorgeous parks, be it City Park by the Art Museum or uptown at The Fly in Audubon Park.
Another way to economically indulge is to attend one of the many free festivals the city hosts. Admission, activities and live music won't cost you a dime and food vendors keep prices reasonable so you can feel good about lining up for seconds.