There’s always room to save money dining out. Whether it’s picking up something quick in between meetings, forgetting your lunch at home and eating at the cafeteria, or enjoying Saturday night dining out with your friends, it can get very costly very fast. Because life is full of unexpected events, it’s not realistic to avoid budgeting for meals out. However, there are certain things you can do to save yourself some extra cash ahead of time. The CGS Team is sharing 9 tips for saving money when it comes to eating out.
Save money dining out by…
Do you have a weekly dinner date? Are Fridays reserved for drinks out after work? If you have certain routines already in place, you can plan ahead. Do your research to see what the cheapest happy hour options are. Are there any new restaurant openings? Call and ask for a complimentary appetizer or desert if you provide them a review after the service. When you plan ahead, you can give yourself an idea of what the cost will be, and how you can keep it as low as possible.
Checking Your Inbox
Sign up to receive coupons and email alerts from your favorite restaurants. Yes it’s another email in your never-ending inbox, but if it can save you $10 on your next visit, it’s worth it. Create a folder just for Dining Out and have all of the messages go there. You can peruse them when you have an upcoming meal out.
Buying Used Gift Cards
Raise is an awesome place to source through used gifts cards and purchase them for up to 20% off. You can get gift cards to Chipotle, Cheesecake Factory, and much more. Click these links to see what other options they have!
Skipping the Drinks
You can save a lot of money by skipping out on soda and alcoholic beverages. Take the opportunity to indulge in your meal, not the liquids. If you want both, consider an appetizer or small plate option instead of a full meal.
Opting for Lunch Dates
Not only is lunch often cheaper than dinner, but you can often shop from special “lunch menus” that provide complimentary soup or salad.
Shopping the Kid’s Menu
If you need to pick up something quick to give you some energy, shop the kid’s menu. The portions are usually large enough to give you some fuel, and you can ask to skip the toy for an extra side or larger portion.
Splitting Your Meal
Going out with friends or co-workers? Don’t be afraid to ask if anyone wants to split a meal. Someone may also be on a budget, or may not even be too hungry.
Avoiding Going Out to Watch Sports
Headed to a sports bar to watch the game? You are much more likely to spend and eat mindlessly while watching a 3-hour game. Instead, host a game-watching party at your place. BYOB!
Instead of wasting $10 a day during the week with greasy fast food meals, bring leftovers or quick meals from home. You can put that $10 pile up towards a nice dinner on the weekend (where there will likely be leftovers).
Related: 5 Waist-Friendly Meals Served at Most Restaurants
However you decide to set your dining out budget, make sure you stay within those limits of the budget by being mindful and following the tips above! Do you find yourself spending a lot of money on food or quick snacks? How do you control your dining out spending? Post a comment below to share what does (and doesn’t) work for you!