Americans love to eat out. It has as much to do with the social aspect as it does with the great taste of food you (as the cook) did not have to prepare!
Here are some simple tips for eating out at your favorite restaurants affordably either with your friends or family:
Look for “Kid’s Night” Deals
Many families are going back to the more traditional “one income” situation, so “Kid’s Night” deals are critical to being able to take the kids for an evening out. Most restaurants have a special kid’s night—where kids under a certain age (usually 12) eat free or at a reduced cost.
Share larger entrees
Entrees are growing, along with our waistlines and cheques at the end of the night. To decrease all of the above, share an entrée with a friend or family member. This will ensure both of you receive your fill, pay less, and walk out a little lighter than you might have if you had tried to eat the entire portion.
Many new (and even existing) restaurants in your area send out coupons (buy one entrée, get second at half price). These are designed to get you to try their new menus, and then hope to garner your return business without coupon. Regardless, this is a great way to eat at your favorite new restaurants and save money.
Not always the most healthy option available sometimes; however, can be a way to enjoy a night out including miniature golf or a movie without spending as much on food. Some of the healthier options include Subway, Taco Bell, Blimpie Subs, Chinese fast food, and even salads from McDonald’s or Wendy’s.
Pizza restaurants always have special deals, and you can look for additional coupons in your weekly paper. This is not only a money saver, but a time saver as well for those Friday nights in which you don’t wish to go out, but would rather kick back and watch a night of videos.
Plan your budget
Many people spend too much money on eating out because they eat out too frequently and don’t plan it into their week. Pick one night a week or every other week to go out, decide in advance which restaurant you want to go to, and even pick up a menu in advance of that night. This will help you plan how much you will spend that night, as well as choosing your food in advance.
Appetizers and Desserts
These were designed with one idea in mind—to get you, as hungry as you are, to order more food than you would ever eat if you cooked it, thus spending more money than you may have planned going in. In advance of your restaurant visit, determine whether or not you are going to order the appetizer as your meal (provided it is large enough) along with a small salad, or not at all. In doing so, you will save money and room in your stomach for after-dinner coffee. Having coffee at the end of the meal will also help you avoid the $7 desserts with the $2 portions. You will be full and won’t want dessert, thus saving you even more money and inches to the waistline.
Many restaurants now offer sides as ala carte items. Choosing 2 or 3 “sides”, such as a salad, a baked potato, or a side of steamed veggies will help you choose less expensive and potentially more healthy options.
Eating out is fun. It should remain that way, and can be done in such a way that everyone’s budget should be able to afford it on a regular, planned basis. Enjoy!