Many people try to save money by preparing their meals at home. But home-cooked meals require extensive planning and time. First, you have to decide what you want to cook, and then you have to go to the store and buy all your ingredients. Then comes the task of actually preparing your meal, and when you’re done there’s usually a ton of dishes to wash.
Cooking two or three meals at home can be especially difficult if you have a full-time job or work different shifts. It’s virtually impossible to achieve without careful meal prepping. So, occasionally you can give yourself a break from cooking and enjoy some fine dining at your local restaurant. Statistics show that many Americans prefer eating out to home cooking. They annually spend around $825 billion in restaurants.
Thankfully eating out doesn’t have to be a luxury you can’t afford. Just follow our eight simple tips and you’ll save money on your meal at restaurants.
Drinks are usually pretty expensive at restaurants. Although you might be tempted to order a soda, cocktail, or other alcoholic drink it can end up costing you a pretty penny. The cheapest drinks at a restaurant usually cost around $5. So, if you’re paying for drinks for a family of four that could add up to $50 to your bill. However, most restaurants offer free water with your meal. So don’t be afraid to ask your server for a glass of water the next time you eat out. Apart from being free, it’s also much healthier to drink water than soda or alcohol.
Look for Discounts
Thanks to the magic of the internet you don’t have to spend hours searching for the best deals on your dining. Most big restaurants have weekly events where they sell food at discounted prices. If you have a favorite restaurant, follow them on social media like Facebook or Instagram and you can get notifications on their newest deals. Eating at discounted prices can help you save hundreds of dollars on food each month.
Dine With Your Family
If you have children you don’t have to leave them at home when you go out to eat. Almost every restaurant has a kids menu with discounted prices. Some restaurants even let kids eat for free on certain days. This way you can enjoy a night of fine dining with your whole family without breaking your bank.
Replace Entrees With Appetizers
Ordering a full entree may seem like a good idea when dining at a restaurant. But if you think about it, entrees have roughly the same amount of food as an appetizer, at double the cost. You can also order a few side dishes or salads to turn your appetizer into a complete meal.
Split Your Meal
Americans are well known for supersizing their food. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that portion sizes have tripled over the past 20 years. They suspect that this is the main cause of the obesity epidemic plaguing the US. So, if you want to save money and watch your weight you can split your meal with a friend.
Take Your Leftovers Home
Due to the huge portion sizes in restaurants, you may have trouble finishing all of your food. Don’t be ashamed to ask your server if they can pack up your leftovers so you can take them home. Most restaurants will gladly fulfill your request. This way you can enjoy your delicious food and have another meal at home. In case you do get a doggy bag, remember to tip your server generously for their help and effort.
Get Your Food to Go
Most people get a kick out of sitting down at a restaurant and enjoying the atmosphere, as well as their food. But sitting at a table can cost you a ton of money. Instead, you can ask the restaurant to pack up your food to go. The food is usually much cheaper this way, and you can save money on tipping your servers.
Eat During Happy Hour
Restaurants usually have specific times during the day when they sell food at discounted prices. So, once you go to a restaurant you can ask your server if there are any special discounts or deals on certain food. Your friends can also be a great source of information. But, most importantly remember to frequently check for happy hours on social media. This way you can plan out your meals and enjoy delicious restaurant food every day of the week.