If you’re trying to save money but you still want to be able to take your family out for a meal once and a while, your choices aren’t just limited to fast food joints. If you take the time to change some of your habits and become more intentional about the way you eat, then you can still manage to dine at some of your favourite establishments without spending over your budget limit. Here are some frugal tips to guide you through those changes.
Change What You Drink
Often the highest portion of any restaurant bill comes not from what people eat but from what people drink. Many restaurants will keep their food prices at a reasonable level, but charge much more for drinks, since drinks (especially alcoholic beverages) are an easy way for restaurants to make money. Imagine how much you could save if, instead of spending upwards of $15 to $20 on beer or wine for yourself and your spouse, you drank water or soft drinks instead.
Change When You Eat
Sometimes the key to dining out and saving money is not changing which restaurants you go to, but changing what time of day you go to those restaurants. If you’re used to going out for dinner, try scheduling your time so you go out for breakfast or lunch instead. Most restaurants have different menus for each meal of the day, and they will always charge the most for dinner since it’s the most popular time to go out. On a weekend, going out for brunch can be a great alternative to going out for dinner, plus you can get the most out of your dollars by having two meals in one.
Change What You Eat
Another alternative to changing where you eat is to change what you eat. Often, you can still enjoy the experience of dining out without eating a full entree. Sometimes all it takes is a little snack beforehand so you’re not too hungry when you order your meal. Then you have the option to go for a smaller plate, or even share an entree with someone. Another good option is to go out for dessert instead of dinner. Have a quick meal at home, and then enjoy spending the rest of the evening lingering at a restaurant treating yourself and your family to some choice desserts and maybe even a drink or two.
Look for Deals
Most restaurants will offer deals like coupons, midweek specials, and social media promotions, especially during times when they’re less busy. If you’ve willing to be a little bit flexible, these deals can be a great way for you to reduce your restaurant bills. A great way to find deals is to be social media-savvy: Follow you favourite establishments on places like Facebook and Twitter, and you’ll be one of the first to know about their latest promotions and coupons.
Sometimes, saving money just means changing the way you think about certain activities. The reason that most people spend a lot on dining out is because they simply go out whenever they want and eat whatever they want. If you’re willing to plan ahead and make a few changes, you could end up having just as much fun, and eating food that tastes just as good, but for a far lower price.