Eating Out For Less
We used to eat out a lot, especially when we both had full time jobs. Today, our meals out are fewer and far between, but that doesn't mean we splurge when eating out.
Over the years we've developed some tried and true means for cutting dining expenses down to the bone. This makes me feel better about eating out. If we spend a little extra at an especially nice place, I know I've made up for it in other ways.
Greg loves his meals big and generous. I'm more conscientious about portions, unless we're talking chips and salsa. LOL! But we've learned how to work with our natural instincts to save money when dining out.
• Fill up on the freebies. That includes chips and salsa, or bread and butter.
• Eat the appetizer instead of an entree. I do this a lot. The portions are still huge and I almost always take some of it home.
• Drink water instead of soft drinks or mixed drinks. Not only do you really taste your food by drinking water, you skip the huge markup on drinks.
• Split a meal. This is hard for me and Greg to do because we tend to want different things, but breakfast is a different story. We often split breakfast because the portions are always huge, and he knows I won't eat much of it anyway. (I'm not a big fan of breakfast.)
• Sign up for their emails. I keep a separate email account strictly for spammy newsletters and promos. Restaurants and retail stores fall into this category. Surprisingly, they often have good deals, specials, and coupons. When I browse through my emails I check to see if there's anything particularly good coming up. I try to plan meals out around the specials.
• Some restaurants have early bird specials. Check their web sites to see if the ones you like are one of them.
• If you're over 55, always check for a senior menu, or at the very least, ask if there's a senior discount. You'd be surprised how many places offer senior discounts.
• Whether you eat out or eat in, see if you can go with only two meals a day. Most days we work so late in the day, there's no point in having lunch. We wait and have an early dinner.
• One last tip... Some restaurants offer an entree and two sides. I sometimes ask for a double portion of a side salad, and take the main dish home. I'm full and I have another meal for later. Sometimes I have to fight Greg for it, but that's another story. 😉
How often do you think you eat out in a week? Have you ever tried just ordering an appetizer or splitting a meal?
But the greatest money saver I've found...let someone else pay. Seriously, since neither of us need anything, when holidays come around I drop hints of favorite restaurants for gift cards. Those gilts always get used and I make a point of telling the gifter when we've had a nice meal out on them.
You are absolutely right. When shopping for someone who already has everything they need, a restaurant gift card is the perfect gift. Everybody's got to eat!