Eating out is the ultimate luxury! We all need a break from kitchen duty and the hassles of the post meal clean up. Unfortunately, eating out can be an expensive proposition that few can afford on a routine basis UNLESS you follow the simple secrets of dining out “on the cheap”. Here’s how you can reduce your restaurant bill and still enjoy the pleasures of eating out:
1.Check your Sunday paper and mailbox for restaurant coupons. Many national chains offer dining out coupons which can save you a significant amount of money. These might include a free entrée with the purchase of another entrée or a certain amount off of your final bill.
2.Consider joining a dining club if your local area gives you access to one. Our local area has a Diner’s Club “two for one” which allows sponsoring restaurants to give you a free entrée when you order a second one. This is a great way to try new restaurants!
3.Choose water as your drink of choice as opposed to the overpriced soft drink or tea. Ask the waitress for some fresh lemon slices to add to your water. You
can even add a packet of sweetener and have instant lemonade!
4.Resist the temptation to order alcoholic beverages. These can turn a reasonably priced meal into an indulgence.
5.If you’re not hungry, consider ordering an appetizer or soup as your entrée along with a vegetable or side salad. You’ll spend less and still feel satisfied.
6.Resist the temptation to order an expensive dessert. A much less costly option is to stop for an ice cream cone or doughnut on the way home from the restaurant.
7.Don’t eat past the point of satiety. Entrees at restaurants these days can be quite large. Ask for a doggy bag and take home the uneaten portion of your entrée to have for lunch the following day.
8.Consider sharing an entrée with your dining partner, especially if the entrees are large. Caution! Make sure the restaurant doesn’t add a “split plate” fee.
9.Look for small, family owned restaurants and cafeterias that are off the beaten path for your next meal. These restaurants offer home cooked meals at a deliciously low price.
10.If you have children, look for restaurants that have a “kids eat free” policy. Your kids will never know the difference but your bank account will!
11.Cafeterias and fast casual restaurants where you order at the counter can be a real budget booster since you don’t have to leave a tip.
12.All-you-can-eat buffets, although not the healthiest choice, can be an excellent value. Often times, you can make it your meal for the day.
Put these tips into practice and you can spend less time in the kitchen and more nights eating out WITHOUT breaking the budget!