Do you enjoy going out to eat but hate the gut sinking feeling of seeing the huge bill at the end of your meal? If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Going out to a nice restaurant with family and friends is a favorite of many people. Besides, no one should be forced to eat macaroni and cheese at home every night. How can you enjoy eating a nice meal on the town without breaking the bank in the process? With a little preparation and flexibility on your part, its very feasible to eat out and not spend much more than making a home cooked meal. Let’s take a look at some tips.
Get on the List!
Many restaurants offer e-mailing lists or smartphone apps which often have weekly or monthly deals. Occasionally I get emails from some of my favorite restaurants with $5-$10 discounts off an entree if I bring in the phone and show a waiter. If you don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, this opens up the possibility to get a nice plate for a pretty reasonable price. Some restaurant’s mobile apps give users an incentive just for downloading it – like a free appetizer or drink.
Avoid too much Alcohol
If you’re going to get a cocktail or beer, keep it to one or two. Alcohol is how restaurants make a lot of their money, getting just a couple drinks could easily double your bill. Never be afraid to order a water!
Pick the Right Time
Instead of going during the dinner hour, be a little flexible. Restaurants attempt to entice hungry diners to come earlier by offering lunch specials. The same plate you could get at dinner time may cost 4 or 5 dollars less in the middle of the day. Similarly, it seems just about everyone is offering some sort of happy hour specials these days, so make sure to ask your waiter about them. You will often find great deals on appetizers and drinks during these times! Going after the dinner rush will also net some sweet deals – some of my favorite places offer half price on certain items during their after prime time hours. Lastly, if you go out during the middle of the work week you may find some midweek prices to be a tad cheaper than Friday-Sunday.
Watch for Online Specials
Various online sites along with some local organizations offer a type of money saving certificate that eases the sting of larger dinner bills. While not exactly giving you a meal for free, you may be able to purchase a $50 dollar gift card for a reduced price ($35 for example). Do some digging around, you just might find a few of these types of deals that can be used in your local area.
Sharing is Caring
Think about sharing an entree with someone at the table. You get all the pleasures of eating out, for half the price! If you have to eat a little snack beforehand to get your fill, it’s still worth it for the amount you will save on a big entree.
Kids Eat Free!
We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but tell your kids that! Look for restaurants that let children under certain ages eat for less (or free!). With less mouths buying meals, your bill should look a few digits cheaper.
Look for Coupons
Going couponing is another great way to save money. Monitor your local Sunday newspaper or search online for deals for some coupons offered by your favorite places to dine with and combine them with other tips shared above for a great deal! Bon appétit!