How To Save Money Eating Out
Eating out is not a good habit to get into if you have financial trouble. It is probably the number one thing I recommend to avoid when you’re trying to save or pay off a debt.
Having said that, there are times when we must eat out: a birthday, a work lunch, and any special occasion. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love to go out to eat?
Skip The Drinks
Restaurants make a nice profit on drinks. A shot of coffee costs 25 cents for cafes and restaurants, but they sell it for up to $4, sometimes higher. A glass of wine in a restaurant usually costs about $8 or $9, and even soft drink costs $3 or $4. House spirits have the largest mark-up because venues will have a deal with certain suppliers and receive heavy discounts. They make 85% profit on spirits, 80% on wine and 77% on beer, according to this source. You can drink these for much less at home, so skip the drinks and just have water when you’re eating out.
Look For Deals On The Restaurant’s Facebook Page
A lot of restaurants will offer incentives to like their Facebook page when they’re trying to grow it. They might offer a 2 for 1 deal if you like their page, for example. Keep an eye out for similar deals, it can save you some serious cash.
Use Deal Sites
Deal sites are a great way to save money eating out. Groupon, Living Social and Cudo are a couple of popular ones. You can save from 20% all the way up to 90% of the cost of the meal using vouchers from these sites. Most require that you pay up front to receive your discount.
Join The Restaurant’s Mailing List
Some restaurants will often send out emails with promotions, coupons and discount offers to customers on their mailing list. Joining your favourite restaurants’ email list is a great way to save money eating out.
Take Advantage Of Nightly Specials
Restaurants will often have nightly specials listed at the entrance of the establishment. Sometimes these options can be 15-20% off the menu price. Some restaurants may not discount the specials though, so make sure you check the price against the cost of the menu items before ordering.
Dine Where Kids Eat Free
Some restaurants might offer up to two free kid’s meals with the purchase of an adult meal. This is a great way to save money eating out. Try to eat at places that offer this. Do some research in your local area about which places will do it. A web search will be helpful. Alternatively, try calling some of your local restaurants and checking if they have a regular day when kids eat free and try to eat out on those days. Here are some sites that might help:
Share Meals/Portion Control
Now more than ever, the portions at restaurants have grown to be huge, and the majority of the food on the plate won’t be finished. Why not try sharing a dish with your dining partner? Instead of getting an entree for each of you, just get one to share. It will save you money and it will be much better for your waistline if you’re not stuffing yourself.
If you can’t finish your meal, ask the waiter to pack it up for you to take home, and eat it for lunch the next day. Extending your $15 dollar restaurant meal into two separate meals is a great way to save money eating out.
Have A Spending Plan
This is not the same as setting a budget, but you will need to have some idea as to how much you can spend when you eat out. Figure out how much you’re willing to spend on the total bill and try not exceed that amount. It takes discipline to do it, but you have to set limits before hand and stick to them.
We all love a night off from cooking and doing dishes, eating delicious food that we wouldn’t be able to recreate ourselves, and the relaxation that comes from eating out. Unfortunately, it usually comes with a hefty bill at the end of the night. However, if you follow some of the tips outlined in this post, you’ll be able to eat out without paying full price. Who wouldn’t love that?