Eating out is one of those activities which most people love to do and wish that they did it more often. There is nothing quite like a quality meal at your favorite restaurant with a group of friends or family.
For me, fine dining is something that I thoroughly enjoy and earlier in the week I had the pleasure of taking my wife to dinner with family and friends. As it was my wife’s birthday she decided to dine at her favourite French restaurant – Baguette.
Having been a patron of this restaurant on more than one occasion – I was well aware that while the food is exquisite, it is certainly not the typical type of restaurant that one attends if they are trying to save money.
Eating out at restaurants is never a good idea if you want to save money. In fact, if you can avoid it all together you will be far better off financially. The obvious alternative to dining out is to cook your own meals at home each day. I am of the belief that it’s OK to loosen the purse strings every once in a while for special occasions, provided it is done in a controlled manner.
There are many different options available to diners, which enable you to save on the bill without too much effort.
Set an Upper Limit
Let’s start at the most important part of eating out. Set a maximum amount of money that you want to spend on your outing. Do this prior to deciding on the restaurant you want to go to as things can get very expensive if you decide on a restaurant which isn’t within your budget.
Restaurant Discount Vouchers
Restaurant discount vouchers are a great way to minimise your dining expenses. Sometimes restaurants provide some really great deals to try and entice customers into their store.
It’s worth checking out websites and coupon booklets to see which restaurants in your area are providing deals. Normally most deals are simple get $10 or $20 off the cost of the meal, but occasionally you can find one that will do a buy 1 get 1 free offer.
No matter how good the deal on the voucher is, be sure to shop around. In some cases the restaurant with a discount voucher will still be more expensive (for a similar meal) to one without a voucher.
Check the Menu before Eating Out
If the restaurant has a website, check out their online menu to get an idea of the price per meal. This will give you the best indication of how easily you will be able to stick to your spending limit. Sometimes it is worth shopping around with some restaurants charging significantly more than others for the same meal.
Desserts at restaurants are quite often highly over priced. If you are still hungry at the end of your meal – head down to the local ice creamery and enjoy something there. You will most likely save quite a bit of money by doing this.
Pick your Day
Many restaurants have deals for people who dine with them mid week. The reason for this is due to the lower patronage when compared to a busy Friday or Saturday evening.
The mark-up on drinks can be almost criminal when compared to prices from your local bottle shop. The best ways to combat this is to only order 1 or 2 drinks, or stick to water. Alcoholic drinks are normally the most marked up with some drinks being well over double what you would pay at your local bottle shop. Many people enjoy having a glass or 2 of wine with their dinner and most restaurants will have a wide range to choose from. If you have a couple of people interested in drinking wine, a good way of reducing the cost is to buy it by the bottle rather than per glass.
- Set the maximum amount of money you want to spend
- Don’t go over your budgeted amount
- Investigate restaurant discount vouchers
- Look at the overall expected cost
- Check prices on the menu before selecting a restaurant
- Have dessert at home or at a local ice cream shop
- Dine mid week in preference to Friday and Saturday nights (if deals are available)
- Stick to water or only 1 or 2 drinks
- If you are a wine drinker, it is often cheaper to buy a bottle of wine and share it with others at your table than to buy it by the glass.
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