Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an occasional dinner out at your favorite restaurant every now and then. If you’re careful and plan ahead, you can eat and drink relatively cheaply at many different restaurants. Here are five tips to help you save money when dining out so you can indulge in a nice meal without breaking the bank.
Choose A Chain Restaurant
Going to a family-owned local restaurant may make you feel good, but it won’t make your wallet feel good. You’re unlikely to find cheap prices at these restaurants. It’s not their fault, they just can’t buy the ingredients as cheap as their bigger competitors. While neighborhood restaurants are wonderful as well, chain restaurants usually offer easy-to-find discounts and specials.
If you want save money on dining out, choose to go to the big name restaurants instead. Chain restaurants often have inexpensive specials that help keep costs down. The choices change frequently, so each time you visit the restaurant you can get something different. Also, chain restaurants are known for offering coupons to customers who sign up for email newsletters or join special insider clubs. Some have a rewards program that give you free food if you accumulate enough points.
Avoid Dining During Peak Times
Most restaurants offer mid-week specials but never do weekend deals. Each restaurant is different, but you can typically find certain meals or appetizers for as much as half off on a Monday for example. Other restaurants may have kids eat free Tuesdays for example. The mid-week specials are meant to attract customers during slow days. Take advantage of these specials to enjoy your favorites at incredible savings. You’ll also feel less rushed during the week when the restaurant doesn’t have a line of people waiting for your table.
Another good time to visit a restaurant is during happy hour. You don’t have to get booze to enjoy the discount though. Just sit at the bar area (there are usually tables there, not just bar stools) and order an appetizer to enjoy the discount. You can typically find appetizers at half off during happy hour. The food is the same, you still get a waiter/waitress. The only difference is you sit closer to the exit.
Consider Take Away
If you live close enough to the restaurant, or if it’s on your way home from work, curbside take away is a great option. If you don’t care much for the atmosphere of being in a restaurant, but you love the food, then takeaway may be right for you.
By ordering take out rather than dining in, you save money on the tip as well as beverages. You also get to enjoy your favorite fare in the comfort of your own home, rather than in a loud, crowded restaurant. Pair your favorite restaurant meal with a movie from Redbox and you have an inexpensive at-home date night.