Eating out at restaurants is expensive, there’s no way around that. However, despite most conventional advice, it is possible for people to go easy on their budgets without having to give up eating out altogether.
In this article, I would be showing you a few simples steps you can follow in other to save money when eating out next time.
Especially during this challenging, hard economy, it's getting harder and harder to justify a fancy dinner at the Michael Minna or a night at the bar with champagne and caviar.
But these tips can keep you from breaking the bank, without sacrificing on enjoyable times with friends and family. Read on for advice that will result in more fun, regardless of the money spent!
Do Some Research Before Leaving the House
Planning ahead for dining out can help save a lot of money that last-minute decisions might otherwise cost. When planning a meal out, diners should start with the internet.
A website like Restaurant.com offers deals and steeply discounted gift certificates that can be printed out at home and presented at the time of purchase.
Prices on these are often up to 80% off, allowing diners to eat at their favorite restaurants for a fraction of the normal price. If a diner has a specific restaurant in mind, they should have a look at the venue's website.
They may have a section for promotions or deals, or an option to join a newsletter that will send emails for specials and savings.
Restaurant websites may also provide other money-saving information like beverage policies.
Some venues allow customers to bring their own drinks, and for a small corkage fee bringing a bottle of wine or a few bottles of beer may end up costing far less than purchasing the same drinks from the restaurant.
Some states and restaurants even allow customers to cork a bottle purchased there and bring home whatever hasn’t been finished, so they don’t have to waste the rest of a bottle if they decide not to finish it.
How often do those coupons get thrown out of the mailbox daily? But they do offer some significant discounts and incentives for fun on the town. Even if the thought of using them is unlikely, create a "just in case" folder.
You never know when it might seem like a good idea! Even 50 cent off coupons can really add up over the long run.
Share Plates to Save Money
Most restaurants serve WAY too much food. Sometimes it's practically enough for the entire next day, and that's reason to save enough! But another way to pocket that much-needed cash is to share. Share appetizers, share entrees, share a dessert.
Another tip? Avoid that soda or beer. Not only do they rack up the cash, but they rack up the calories. Beware!
One fad that's still going strong is tapas, small bites that are meant to be shared among more than one person. It's a great way to be intimate with your guest or guests while trying a lot of delicious, yet inexpensive foods. Google it!
Make Going Out a Special Occasion
It's not necessary every day. Or every weekend. Or every month even! Making a cause for celebration special makes it just that. Special.
By limiting the urge to go out when bored or feel like making a good "impression," hundreds (maybe even thousands over time) can be racked up for a really meaningful moment. Not to mention the weight lifted.
Make Use Of Your Financial Sense At the Restaurant
This may sound strange and funny, but a good rule of thumb to follow is not to dine out on a completely empty stomach. If a person's stomach is growling and they haven’t eaten all day, they’re more likely to order too much food.
If they have a small snack an hour or so before dining out, they’ll be hungry enough to eat a meal by the time they’re out to eat, but won’t be so famished that they'll want to order everything that looks good on the menu.
Order An Appetizer Instead Of a Full Meal
For those who have eaten before they go out, they may also be able to get away with ordering an appetizer instead of a full meal. Often, appetizers are large enough to be equal to a full meal but are about half the price of an entrée size.
If they’re too hungry for this option, they should order the full entrée, but take advantage of requesting a takeaway box if they end up with leftovers, and eat the rest for another meal the next day.
Split A Few Appetizers Among The Dining Party
For those who love to try everything on the menu, it's best to suggest splitting a few appetizers among the dining party, or an appetizer and an entrée, so that everyone gets to taste the variety without ordering double the amount of food they actually need.
You can also narrow down options by looking at the true value of the food. Don’t choose dishes that are priced too high for what they are. For instance, if deciding between a chicken dish and a steak dish, take a closer look at the price.
If the chicken dish is only minimally less expensive than the steak, choose the steak. Chicken is an inexpensive option that can be bought and prepared at home for multiple days at the same price of a single restaurant entree, which more than makes up for the few dollars difference on the menu.
Avoid Being Upsold
You should avoid being upsold by their server when they ask if a party would like to order drinks, bread, or desserts. Unless the diners have come out specifically to have cocktails and snacks or to have dessert, you should only order tap water with their meals and forgo ordering dessert.
Alcohol and specialty drinks usually make up a substantial proportion of a party’s bill, especially if more than one round is ordered. Dessert costs can be curbed by either opting not to have it altogether or taking the party elsewhere for a cheaper selection.
Stay Home to Save More Money
Nothing says fun like a party at home. Customize a signature drink like inexpensive sangria, decorate from the dollar store (trust that NO ONE will ever know) and invite all those favorite pals to a house.
House parties are intimate, entertaining, enjoyable, and memorable. And they’ve been known even to spark a love connection or two.
Watch movies, play games, set up the Wii. No matter what, it’s sure to be a hit.
I hope these few steps listed in this article could help you save money when eating out. The most important thing to remember when saving money? Just have fun and put the expectations aside. There’s nothing more fun than that! Fabulous!
You have any other ways you save money when eating out? Please share with me in the comment box.