With lean economic times seemingly the norm these days, many people are searching for ways to save money. In an effort to save money, some families have eliminated or lessened the frequency of their restaurant visits. As an accounting graduate and someone who has lived a debt-free lifestyle for a couple of years now, I know the importance of sticking to a budget and saving money. However, I also like to eat out regularly. Not willing to give up my occasional night dining out, I’ve learned a few common sense ways to save money at my favorite restaurants.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Some people enjoy their beverages when dining out more than they enjoy their food. However, a restaurant beverage is usually one of the most marked up items in price on the menu. For example, that glass of tea that you pay a couple of dollars for probably costs the restaurant a few mere cents to make. If one person switched from drinking tea to drinking water when dining out three times a week, then he or she would most likely save at least 25 dollars a month. Using this estimate, a family of four could save $100 a month.
Many popular restaurant chains and local eateries offer deals for patrons who dine early for dinner. The portion sizes for the early dinner options are usually smaller than the regular dinner entrée portion size. However, these early dinner options can save the consumer a significant amount of money. I regularly save four or five dollars for a seafood dinner by dining early at one of my favorite local eateries. While all restaurants do not offer early savings on a dinner entrée, some restaurants will allow a consumer to purchase a meal off of the lunch menu late into the afternoon or even at night.
Take Advantage of Promotions
Restaurants often offer a variety of promotions to get customers in their doors. Many restaurants offer at least one special for the day on their menus. For instance, a restaurant’s $20 steak dinner might be offered for $15 on Friday nights. In addition to specials, restaurants frequently place coupons in newspapers. Restaurants also like to sell gift certificates at discounts. You might be able to purchase a twenty-five dollar restaurant gift certificate for $20. This option can save families a lot of money over time if they regularly attend certain restaurants and don’t lose the gift certificates. Nowadays, there are several on-line sites that offer coupons and special promotions to restaurants such as livingsocial and RESTAURANT.COM.
Take Leftovers Home
Imagine leaving money on your plate when you leave a restaurant in addition to leaving a generous tip. Unfortunately, this is what you’re doing when you leave food on your plate at the restaurant. When you pay your hard earned money for a meal, you might as well eat all of it. Large restaurant portions can sometimes be hard to finish and certainly unhealthy to finish depending on what you order. Ask for a box to go and eat your leftovers at another meal or for a snack. Some people ask for a box to go when their meal is first brought to them. In doing so, you can box up half or a portion of your meal immediately and save money and save yourself from overindulging.