Eating out doesn’t have to be a luxury. You can enjoy your favorite treats AND save money at restaurants, all at the same time.
It’s Saturday night, and you’re eating Domino’s at home…again. Just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean you have to eliminate dining out altogether. There are ways to save money at restaurants, but you might have to get creative.
Ways to Save Money at Restaurants
Eat at cafeterias:
Sweet Tomatoes and other similar-style restaurants have given cafeterias a new lease on life. All-you-can-eat places used to be associated with early birds and the elderly. Now you can have soup, salad, five different types of bread, casseroles and a sundae bar all for under $20.
Buy an entertainment Book:
They’re usually sold by charities and are chock full of money-saving restaurant coupons. Most are buy-one-entrée-get-another-one-free. It encourages you to expand your horizons and try new places, at half the price.
Go out to lunch instead of dinner:
Not only will you save calories because the portion sizes are smaller, but you’ll also spend about half as much as you would at dinner. Instead of a $20 entrée in the evening, lunchtime meals usually cost between $7-$10. The food is the same; it’s only the plates that are smaller. People also tend to buy alcoholic drinks at dinner. Those are a whole lot more expensive than a $2 ice tea.
Visit the restaurant’s web site before you go:
You might find a coupon or a nightly special you didn’t know about. If there is a certain eatery you frequent about once a week; it would pay to get on their e-mail list. You’ll receive money-saving coupons and advance notice of special events.
Check the flyers you get in the mail:
Don’t throw away those money mailers. Local restaurants often offer big discounts on them because they want to increase their neighborhood traffic.
Make the appetizer a meal:
Appetizers are usually less expensive and less filling. But you still get the same great food. So if you’re not hungry and want to save money, order an appetizer and a salad. Your waistline will thank you and so will your pocketbook.
Take home a doggy bag:
With all the super-sized meals available now, you might find it difficult to clean your plate. Ask for a to-go bag, and you have one more meal ready and waiting in the fridge.
Finally, if you’re used to eating out all the time, consider dining at home and making a restaurant meal somewhat of a special occasion. You’ll appreciate it more and can have fun experimenting with some old-fashioned (inexpensive) home cooking.