Dining out is one of the finest joys in life. After all, who doesn’t like going out to relax and having a delicious meal that you don’t have to cook yourself? While dining in a restaurant or cafe can be fun, sometimes it can put a dent in your wallet disproportionate to the amount of food you get to eat. If you live alone and have to manage your month on a tight budget, eating out can be an extra strain on your finances.
However, dining out is one of the best ways to socialize and interact with friends and family, and you should not let your budget get in the way of a memorable dining experience. You can employ a few handy tips and tricks to spend less while enjoying more. Read on as we take a closer look at seven ways to save money when dining out.
Coupons to the Rescue
Find coupons for your favorite restaurants online and subscribe to their email newsletters and offers. More often than not, restaurants tend to give away coupons via email, and you can save at least $10 to $15 on your total bill. Keep checking the “Promotions” and “Updates” tabs of your favorite email client for the latest offers.
Go Out for Lunch
If you compare the menus for lunch and dinner at your favorite restaurant, you will find out that lunch is much cheaper than dinner while being equally delicious. Dining out at lunchtime means that you can order an appetizer or dessert within the same amount as the price of a dinner entree. Some places have a wide window of time for their lunch hours, which provides you with an opportunity to eat before or after the peak lunchtime rush.
Cut the Extras
If you order the main dish and skip any cold and hot drinks and appetizers, etc., you can significantly reduce the total bill for your meal. Some restaurants and cafes offer free appetizers like potato chips or garlic bread, which can more than make up for a paid appetizer. You can even use the money saved on the extras to order a more expensive entree from the menu. The possibilities are endless!
Entrees usually have servings that are fit for two people if ordered with decently portioned sides. If you split the main course with your friend and order a side, you’ll walk out of the restaurant happy and fulfilled, all the while having saved some extra cash for your next hangout. It is better to prefer sharing food than taking the leftovers home.
The Kids’ Menu
Almost all restaurants have a separate menu for kids with smaller portion sizes that can be quite fulfilling if you want to eat something light. Choose a restaurant where there is no age-restriction for ordering off the kids’ menu, and enjoy a meal that is light both on your stomach as well as your pocket.
At the start of each month, sit down and budget your finances while keeping a margin for dine outs and other fun stuff. While it can be a challenge, setting a particular amount aside for non-essentials can be quite useful in the long run to save money and spend responsibly.
Eat some snacks before going out to a restaurant so that your appetite remains in control. It will enable you to order a smaller meal that costs less and does not rip a hole through your wallet. By doing so, you can easily skip appetizers and even split your meals with your friends or family.