Dining out on a Budget

In tough economic times, most everyone is trying to cut back in spending some way or another. One area that people tend to cut back on is dining outside of the home. Indeed, dining out frequently can put quite a strain on a budget, but there are plenty of ways to save a substantial amount of money while enjoy a meal with your family or by yourself at a restaurant. 

Birthday/Anniversary Coupons

Recently, my wife and I have been signing up on the mailing lists of several of our favorite restaurants. As a result, those restaurants will periodically send out coupons in the mail or e-mail. Some of these coupons may be for a free drink, entree, or dessert but some of them are even better. One restaurant in particular sends a coupon almost monthly for “Buy One Entree, Get One Free”. In addition to these periodical offers, many restaurants will send out coupons for you on your birthday or anniversary. Most of these are free entrees or desserts. They may not seem like much, but this is a great way to save a lot of money without cutting out a luxury. 

Coupons From the Newspaper

For the longest time, people would completely ignore the Sunday Newspapers on a weekly basis even though most of them contained hundreds of dollars worth of coupons, but people have quickly turned back to cutting coupons. The great thing is that  many of those offers are coupons from most restaurants, ranging from all the fast food restaurants to nice sit-down type restaurants. It is not unheard of to spend less than $5 on a complete meal for a couple and have plenty of food because of these coupons that are available. Don’t neglect the coupons that you find in the newspapers.

Share an Entree and/or Dessert

An easy way to save money while dining out is to share a meal. The portion size for most sit-down restaurants have long been a source of debate because of health concerns. So, why not save some money and calories by sharing a meal. Order a regular entree and ask for two plates and share the meal with each other. Chances are that there will be plenty of food for two by doing something like this. 

Drink Water

Another way to save money and be healthy while dining out is to drink water instead of soda, tea, or alcoholic beverage. There is a clear understanding that the mark-up on these other drinks is absurd, especially alcoholic beverages. This is one of the big ways that restaurants make tons of money. Water is not only much healthier, it is free (in most cases). There are some restaurants that now charge for water, especially bottled water, but chances are, most restaurants where you eat are not going to charge you for it. 

Although dining out can be a budget buster and should definitely be cut back some during tough financial times (and maybe even altogether in extreme cases), but it is entirely possible to eat very well on a tight budget by using the previous tips. However, this is not an exhaustive list of tips to use in order to save money.

1. 22 easy ways to eat out on a budget – Save the Student
2. 6 Ways to Dine Out on a Budget With Kids | Real Simple