It’s the simple pleasures in life that often make all the difference. They can turn an ordinary week into a mini celebration – like a dinner out with a friend or significant other. In fact, Americans spend nearly half their food budget on eating out. In order to enjoy eating out without spending too much of your budget, try these tips:
1) Take advantage of happy hours and daily specials. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, most happy hours include food deals. Sure, they may be appetizers, but splitting a couple of appetizers can be just like tapas (Spanish small plates)! If you do enjoy a drink, you can save big during scheduled happy hours, as alcoholic beverages often make up a big portion of the bill during a dinner out. There are even numerous phone apps to help you find local happy hours. Make sure to check the specials at your favorite local restaurants and drink responsibly if you choose to indulge.
2) Enjoy free birthday meals. Many restaurants offer free meals on your birthday, so get everyone in your family to sign up (most require you to be a member of their club, which is free as well).
3) Use coupons. Restaurant coupons are abundant. You can often find them in mailers and even on the back of grocery receipts. You can also find them on online coupon sites. From free desserts or appetizers to killer discounts, coupons are a great way to save.
4) Go to breakfast or lunch instead of dinner. Breakfast and lunch both tend to be cheaper than dinner, so mixing up your routine can be a way to save. Lunch can become romantic when paired with a beautiful view or lovely weather on an outdoor patio. A weekend breakfast or brunch can also be a great way to enjoy an inexpensive meal out.
5) Skip the alcohol. NPR reports that for every $100 dollars consumers spend, $1 goes to alcohol. That really adds up. If you’re not hitting a restaurant during happy hour, you can save by skipping an alcoholic beverage. Some restaurants will allow you to bring your own bottle of wine with a corkage fee, which is another option for savings.
6) If you’re dining with kids, let them eat free. Many restaurants offer special deals and even free meals for kids. So if you’re bringing the grandchildren or other youngsters, check online to see where you’ll find the best deals.
7) Pick where and what you eat wisely. Of course, choosing restaurants with lower price points and ordering items on the menu that are the best deals (or splitting a meal) are also great ways to save.
With these tips in hand, you can enjoy meals out without over-spending. That’s worth raising a glass to!