Our budget buster? Restaurants. We eat out a lot for the convenience, great food, and because we really aren’t very good cooks. We also hate to grocery shop. Enough excuses already. If you dine out, it’s always good to save money. We have used some of the following tips lately to reign in the spending on our dining out expenses.
Eat for free at a “trial night.” When new restaurants go up, ask when the kitchen will do a practice run. We’ve eaten for free a few times the night before a new restaurant opens. Often there is a limited menu to give the staff a chance to practice, but it’s great food at an unbelievable price.
Try the buffet for kids meals. We recently found out our local Chinese buffet is only 99 cents for kids age 2. There are also restaurants that offer kids eat free nights; find them at Kids Eat Free.
Try family style restaurants. Since you’ll pass all the dishes, order one less meal than the number of people. There will be plenty to go around and you’ll save the cost of one meal.
Eat early or late. Sometimes restaurants offer discounted meals for dining during off-peak times. In addition to early bird and late night prices, try dining out for breakfast instead of dinner where prices are considerably cheaper.
Drink water. You’ll save by avoiding pop or alcohol. The restaurant business has a large profit margin on drinks, especially pop. Skip it and your wallet will thank you.
Stop somewhere else for dessert. If you must eat dessert, stop by a local ice cream shop on the way home. It will be cheaper and you’ll probably avoid having to tip.
Take the kids! Often the price of a kids meal is actually cheaper than a babysitter. Make it a family event.
Sign up for restaurant clubs. Clubs give free meals on your birthday, coupons and frequent dining card. Take advantage of them.
Ask about a half portion. Some restaurants will gladly make a half size meal for half the price. It will help cut out the extra calories too.
More great resources for dining out on the cheap:
I’ll share more of our budget busters this week, since Lynnae at Being Frugal shared her biggest budget busters and asked me to do the same.