In general, we all know that there are economic benefits to cooking your own food and not going out to restaurants. It comes as a surprise to no one that eating out can become a significant strain on your wallet. Still, in today’s fast and hyperactive world, it’s unrealistic to expect never to go out and enjoy a nice restaurant. Sometimes this is due to speed and convenience, in order to get something quick when you are going from one engagement to the other with little time in between. Here are a few tips that will save you money when eating out.
Read Also: How to Splurge Without Feeling Regret
Ask About Deals
First of all, most restaurants you go to will have specials and deals going on that give you access to a considerably cheaper meal. This goes for everything from a nice dine-in spot to a fast food joint. This is a habit that can help you get more bang for your buck. As an added bonus, it’s a great way to try new things and get menu options that you may not otherwise think of eating.
Utilize Happy Hour
If you’re looking for a quick bite after work, then happy hour can be your best friend. Lots of bars and restaurants offer great deals on drinks and meals between the hours of 5 and 7 (generally referred to as happy hour). If you’re up for a relatively early dinner or want to unwind with some coworkers after a long day at the office, then happy hour is a highly affordable avenue to do so.
Certain types of restaurants, such as Italian, Mexican, and most Asian-cultured places, will family-style dining options. Instead of everyone getting their own specific meal, several large portions are placed around to be shared with everyone at the table. This is a terrific option to save money if you are eating with your family or a group of friends, as the prices for those large portions will actually amount to less than if everybody ordered their own entree.
Go During Lunch
If you’re picking a meal during the day to eat out, consider going during lunch hours. Oftentimes, specific restaurants will have cheaper lunch specials that are only available during the day. Typically, dinner hours are more expensive and have fewer specials to offer patrons. As an added bonus, if you get a meal with larger portions, you can save the rest for dinner, later, potentially giving you a 2-for-1 on your meal.
Go to Places that Give You Points
There are a variety of different ways that continuous patronage to a specific restaurant can pay further dividends. Some places offer points to people who come regularly. Another common way to get points at specific restaurants is to check if your credit card gives you rewards at those establishments. Some cashback cards will provide you with 1-2% back on specific purchases. Even if that seems like a small number, using it on a special occasion where you decide to splurge can help make it a little more tolerable for your wallet.
Plan When You Splurge
One important thing to remember is that financial planning does not mean forced austerity. Indeed, you should plan for there to be times when you splurge on something nice for yourself and your significant other. The key here is that splurging doesn’t really hurt your pocketbook because you’re aware of that expense and have readied yourself for it. As such, when you want to go out and get yourself a nice dinner and some craft cocktails, you don’t have to feel guilty about it if you actually plan it, beforehand.
Look for Coupons
Coupons are still a major tool that restaurants use for marketing. They appear online, in magazines, in newspapers, and in mailers. Keep your eye peeled for coupons that give you the biggest bang for your buck, such as buy-one-get-one-free or anything half-off. Just by being aware of these coupons, you can cut out a significant fraction of the cost of eating out.