How to Save Money When Dining Out
Eating is just a fact of life. Whether you prepare your meals at home or go out to a restaurant, you need to eat something. We all know that opting to buy food at the grocery store and cook at home is the best way to save, but let’s face it, sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house and enjoy a meal with friends or family. There’s nothing wrong with indulging here and there, but dining out regularly can really strain the budget. So, here are some tips on how to save money when dining out.
1. Skip the Drinks
I know a nice glass of wine can compliment great meal, but it will cost you. In many cases you’ll pay as much for a glass of wine as you otherwise would on an entire bottle at the store. The same goes for soft drinks. At just two dollars apiece, a family of four may spend an extra eight dollars if everybody orders a soda. Then to top it off, that just makes your total bill higher, which increases the tax and how much of a tip you’ll need to leave. So if you can, stick to water and save the drinks for when you get home.
2. Share Meals
If you aren’t a big eater or if you’re going to a restaurant that has large portions, you might want to consider sharing a meal. American restaurant portions are exceptionally large, especially at more casual dining establishments. So, instead of ordering two individual meals consider splitting an appetizer and entrée. In many cases this will be plenty of food and you could save upwards of 20 dollars.
3. Catch the Early Bird
You don’t have to be in the senior crowd to take advantage of cheaper meals when going out to eat a little earlier. Many restaurants will continue to run their lunch menu until four or five o’clock so if you can get there just before they switch over to the dinner menus you’ll be able to order from the cheaper menu while still eating at a relatively normal hour.
Granted, this may not always be an option when you’re busy working all day or if you’re going out to eat before a late movie, but going out earlier can save you money by not only allowing you to order from a cheaper menu, but you may not be as hungry and be less likely to order a bigger meal anyway.
4. Plan for Leftovers
Finally, even if you do go out to eat, make plans for the leftovers. If you get too much food and can’t finish it all, don’t be afraid to box it up and take it home. But rather than letting it sit in the refrigerator and go to waste, plan to use the leftovers for lunch or incorporate it into a future dinner. Spending a few extra dollars at the restaurant isn’t as big of a deal if you’re making use of the leftovers the next day and save money there as well.Jeremyvohwinkle is a guest blogger for http://genxfinance.com/. In exchange for sharing this content, GoodHandsCommunity.org has compensated him via cash payment.