As much as I advocate for eating at home in order to save money, sometimes I like to eat out whether it’s with my partner or a group of friends. Not all the time or even frequently because otherwise not only does it become very expensive quickly but it has a tendency to loose it’s novelty value. The fact that it’s a novelty is one of the reasons I enjoy the experience so much.
Now depending on your situation and where you live, there are a myriad of options and ways to reduce the cost of restaurant dining and the below are a few of my favourites!
This one is a little cheeky, but sometimes if a restaurant I like has a lunchtime special I’ll buy the special at lunch as a takeaway and re-heat it at dinner. I’ve experienced that sometimes virtually the same dish a dinner can be almost half the price at lunchtime (even though it may be ever so slightly smaller). This is often the case because a lot of restaurants simply do less trade at lunch than at dinner and they want patrons through the door and they are willing to offer a reduced price in order to put bums in seats. Take advantage of lunchtime specials wherever you can for significant savings on exactly the same food!
In Australia, we have something called the ‘Entertainment Book’ and each year this can be purchased at a cost of about $70 and is a thick book full of discount vouchers for various restaurants, takeaway places and also experiences and activities (you only need to use a couple of vouchers to earn back the cost of the book). To put this is perspective just the other night my boyfriend and I visited one of our favourite restaurants where we had a voucher for buy one get one free (a saving of $13.90) and resulted in a cheap night out for the two of us whilst also enjoying one of our favourite meals. Most vouchers offer a certain item free or a discount of $25% off the total bill up to a certain value.
3. Discount Codes
I don’t think we’ve ever bought pizza without finding a voucher code online first in order to save at last $5 per pizza. If you are going to order a takeaway it’s definitely worth a quick internet search beforehand to see if there are any current and valid discount codes. If it’s something you are going to buy anyway eve a 10% discount is worth a few minutes of searching- you never know what you might find. Sometimes making a reservation through a certain website can mean you are entitled to a certain percentage off your final bill.
4. Eat Half
Most restaurants these days serve obscenely large meals and rarely do I ever finish what I order. As a result, sometimes I deliberately eat half my meal and ask for the remainder as a takeaway. That way I can have the leftovers for lunch the next day, thereby halving the cost of my meal. I’ve also found this beneficial as I don’t lave a restaurant feeling bloated and overly full. It’s both financially savvy and easier on the waistline. I would like to emphasise that I don’t let myself g hungry in order to do this and nor do I feel deprived.
5. Drink Water
Very rarely, if ever do I order a drink at a restaurant. I’m not even talking about just alcohol, but ordering a fizzy drink can easily add $5 to the cost of your meal. Order tap water, it’s free!
6. Don’t head out Ravenous
Never go out to a restaurant feeling ravenous, the hungrier you are when you arrive the more likely you are to order more. As a result, not only are you consuming food you don’t need, it’s more expensive! I like to have a small snack before heading out so I don’t feel the need to order the entire menu and break the bank. I also have a tenancy to avoid entrees and desserts and stick to mains only.
It is definitely possible to eat out without hurting your hip pocket especially if it’s not a frequent occurrence. There are so may creative ways to reduce the cost of the bill whilst still having an enjoyable experience. If you have kids it’s definitely worth checking out what restaurants in your area offer ‘kids eat free’ or if anywhere has a cheap daily special.
What are your tips and tricks for eating out for less?