With the rate of inflation it seems the cost of everything is on the rise. Grocery stores are seeing steady increases and restaurants are feeling this pinch too as it costs them more money to obtain their ingredients for preparation of food. The unfortunate result is this raises the menu prices for restaurant patrons.
It is obviously cheaper to eat at home, but many people like to go out and eat once in a while for a change of pace and to relax. As prices increase though, this becomes more difficult as restaurant meals often end up at a low priority position of a household budget. Is it really possible to be able to afford a meal out and not put too much of a dent in your budget without breaking the bank?
You may be wondering how you can save money eating out. If so, here are a few ideas which will help your pocketbook be able to reduce this expense enough to withstand the costs associated with dining out.
All that junk mail you receive in your box often contains coupons for local restaurants. Before chucking them into the trash, take a few moments to flip through them. These treasures usually come stuffed in an envelope with a bunch of other advertisements or coupons. In my town we also get a small magazine-like book that contains tons of coupons. These few minutes are well spent if you come across a “buy one, get one free” coupon for a restaurant or take-out place
you frequent. It’s also common for percentage off or dollar amounts to be slipped inside local newspapers or other periodicals. You can also often find restaurant coupons online. If you visit a restaurant’s website or other local community webpage, you can usually find great places to obtain coupons; often you can print them directly from your home computer. Also, many businesses are also offering discounts for “liking” their Facebook pages. Or sign up for mobile offers.
Another good way to save is getting to know your local restaurants and see which ones offer special sales. In my neighborhood there is an Italian restaurant which offers 2 for 1 meals on Mondays and the many chains offer .99 cent or free meals for kids with purchase of an adult meal. You might have to restructure your usual eating out time in order to take advantage of these specials because they often fall on “off” times when people eat at home, typically early or mid-week but, if you are flexible in your evenings out, this is a great opportunity to save.
Share meals (or plan for leftovers)
Let’s face it, meals have grown to very large portions and, as the sizes increase, the prices look great because it looks like you are getting more for your money. In reality, these prices are slightly higher than what you’d pay for a “normal” sized meal, but the restaurant is able to absorb the costs of larger portions because they can sell meals at slightly higher prices.
A way to keep your wallet fuller and your figure leaner is to share meals. Many restaurant portions are large enough for two (some even three!). Some restaurants may charge a buck or two for “shared” plates, but this is worth the savings. If you’re dining alone, plan to make more than one meal of what you buy.
Instead of a soft drink or other beverage, order water. Not only is it cheaper, but you have the added bonus of it being healthier for you. If you bypass purchasing drinks, you can save several dollars or more for two people. For a family of four, you can easily shave $10 off your bill. Alcohol-based drinks typically add up far more quickly than non-alcoholic drinks do; by eliminating alcohol from your restaurant tab, you’ll easily lower that bill.
There are many benefits to eating local. You often get a better bang for your buck. While some high-end local restaurants will charge for decor, a lot of the time, these are small businesses geared towards serving food rather than the decor. While some chain restaurants provide good value, many of them you are simply paying for the name for so-so quality of food.
There are many ways you can save money eating out. The trick is knowing how to cut back on this expense and still be able to afford what’s on the menu. If you tend to eat out on a regular basis, you know how rapidly this adds up and how it can really put a dent in your pocketbook. By taking a bit of time to search around, you can discover the many ways you can save eating out. When you do, you’ll find you can indulge more than you might have thought.
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.