Dining out is a lovely treat, but the cost can really add up. The food itself, drinks, possibly transportation to and from the restaurant (if you plan to have cocktails) and the cost of a babysitter if you plan on leaving the kids at home. You’re looking at a pretty big hit to the wallet, and it’s something that many families see as too much of a luxury to justify. But whether you want to dine out at restaurants more often as a family or start going on more date nights with your partner, there are things you can do to keep an eye on the cost. Read on for tips for dining on a budget!
Check The Menu and Prices Beforehand
A bit of forward planning can save you a lot of expense. Before you book a table, look online for a menu (most restaurants will have these on their website) and check out the prices of the food and drinks. This saves you from sitting down and getting a nasty shock where everything is a lot more expensive than you thought.
Look For Coupons and Offers
As a general rule never dine out without a coupon! While you’re on their web site, see if they have any coupons or offers available. Sometimes subscribing to their emails or Facebook page is a source for coupons as well. It might be cheaper to dine on certain days or between certain times, or there might be vouchers that you can print out and hand in when you pay. For a quick overview of prices at many of the well-known chains check out a site like Restaurant Meal Prices where they list menu prices and you can search for coupons and offers.
Order Water Instead of Soft Drinks and Alcohol
Most restaurants will make their money on the drinks rather than the food. So even if you go into an inexpensive or mid range restaurant, you can find you’re hit with a big bill at the end due to drinks. Alcoholic drinks especially will be much higher than elsewhere, and so avoid these completely if you’re looking for a less expensive meal out. Instead of ordering wine or soft drinks, ask for a jug of tap water instead. Alternatively you could order one drink to begin with, but go with water afterwards instead of a refill. That way the bill doesn’t get out of hand.
Choose Cheaper Food From The Menu
Is there anything you like that costs a little less? You could go for a smaller or less expensive cut of steak, or choose a meal that’s priced slightly lower. The whole point of going out is to enjoy a delicious meal and so don’t choose something you don’t want just because it’s cheaper, but do scour the menu first as you might be able to make a switch that saves you some cash. Adding starters and desserts onto your meal too will also bump up the cost massively. Restaurant dishes are usually so large you really don’t need to buy extras, you’ll waste less food this way and save some money too.
At first these tips might seem like a damper on the fun but remember…dining out is also a chance to spend time with someone. And if you can save on the bill it will be so nice to see more cash in your account, you won’t fondly recall overeating!!!