Dining out with friends and family is a fun and relaxing but, unfortunately, quite expensive experience not everybody is able to afford. You could probably manage to take your family out to a nice restaurant once every month or even two or three, but wouldn’t it just be great it if you could do it a bit more often? Well, it definitely would and you definitely can do that – if you know how to save, that is. So, here are some things you might consider doing:
1. Chose a Nice but Not Overly Fancy Restaurant
Fancy décor usually means you’re going to suffer a minor heart attack when you look at the prices in the menu, plus, the food may turn out to be less than what you’ve expected. So pick a nice, local restaurant that’s going to make you feel comfortable – the experience might not be the one you’d get from sitting in a glitzy dining hall but the portions are probably much larger and they cost considerably less, too.
2. Check the Size of the Portion
Read the menu carefully or ask the waiter how many grams of meat the portion you’re about to order contains. You can’t eat 300 grams of meat, now, can you? That’s about the size of two, maybe even three hamburgers!
3. Share the Food
My fiancé and I share everything from entrées and salads to the actual meal. So, if you realize the portion you’re about to order is too big, ask the people you’re dining out with to split it. In most smartly picked restaurants one portion is big enough for two people.
4. Ask for Specials
Most restaurants offer special lunch menus so, if you’re looking to save, it might not be a bad idea to plan your outings with this in mind. Just think about it – arriving one hour earlier means you’ll still be able to take advantage of their special lunch offer.
5. Skip Drinks… or Not?
Drinks are quite expensive when ordered separately. Just think about it… sodas for the kids, a beer for your husband, a glass of vine for you and there you have it – you’ve already spent a considerable amount of cash. Why not order a mineral water and sip on that, for example? If you are visiting a traditional restaurant, it might be a good idea to check the menu more carefully or ask if they have some traditional drinks. Most taverns here do have their own wine which is quite cheaper than the bottled one and tastes very good.
Most restaurants will pack your leftovers if you ask them to do so. So, don’t be shy and don’t wait to see if the waiter will suggest this – sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t which, of course, doesn’t mean you have to let all that unfinished food waste. You paid for it and it’s going to save you the trouble of cooking the next day!
7. Use Coupons
You can find the in the magazines, on the internet or even get them as a bonus, for purchasing something. My favorite pizza place, for example, always gives away 50% off coupons and I must admit they come pretty handy sometimes. Coupons are actually a great thing because you’ll be motivated to visit restaurants you would have never visited before.
8. Control Your Sweet Tooth
Sweets are just one of the many expensive things on every restaurant’s menu! If you really want to save, don’t order them at all – make your own sweet before you go out and inform your family members that the sweet is in the fridge and will be served after you all come back home. If you really must order a sweet, use the sharing strategy again. You’ll cut down on both – the calories and your bill.
9. Enjoy Free Stuff
Some restaurants give free breadsticks, some offer spicy, grilled bread or dips and sometimes, you’ll even get a sweet after you meal, on the house. It’s probably not going to be a delicious looking tiramisu you were eyeballing but some fruits with honey or a scoop of ice-cream instead. However, these things usually turn out to be a very good, quite filling way to either start or end your meal and they don’t add to your bill at all.
How do you manage to cut down on your restaurant bill? Are you ready to settle down for one exquisite night in which you can order anything you want or you prefer to save a bit in order to make your outings more frequent?
Top Photo Credit: kozumel