I know a lot of savings tips include the age old “Don’t eat out” tip, which as helpful as this tip is, it is not always practical and to be honest, just isn’t much fun! I like to eat out, I like to have someone else cook for me, I like to try new things that I may never have thought to cook at home, and I like to have someone else do the washing up afterwards! So with all that being said, my husband and I like to eat out once in a while (with or without the kids), and so it is always my mission to enjoy ourselves without spending a small fortune! Listed below are the tips and tricks I have come across that help us to stretch our dollar a little further and truly enjoy our evenings out!
Find places that offer ‘kids eat free’
When eating out with the kids it makes sense to take advantage of restaurants that offer a “Kids Eat Free” special. Generally these are on specific nights of the week, so make sure you do some research first and go on a night when this deal is offered. Most restaurants have the stipulation that it is one kid’s meal for every adult meal purchased, so this deal provides the most value when 2 adults and 2 kids are eating out. There also may be age restrictions, such as the deal only being applicable for kids under 12, so be mindful of this also. As we are a family of 5 this works perfectly for us, as we have 2 kids under 12, and so we order an adult’s meal for the eldest and the 3 of them share between them (I don’t know about your kids, but mine eat a lot more than some of the tiny kids portions that are served!).
Share a dessert with a loved one or friend; eat less, spend less
So you have filled up on your delicious main, but can’t bear the thought of not trying that Lemon Meringue Pie you spotted in the desserts cabinet? Rather than buying a whole slice just to get yourself a taste, why not split your dessert with a friend? That way both of you can have a sweet treat for only half the price, and most restaurants are more than happy to provide you with two spoons!
Drink only tap water; focus your money and taste on the beautiful food
Restaurant drinks are crazy expensive! $5 for a glass of lemonade? $8 for a glass of house wine? OUCH!!! One way we bring our restaurant bill down is to drink water with our meals. All restaurants must provide free tap water to their customers, so take advantage of this and save your money for something more worthy – like dessert! If you don’t like the thought of drinking only water with your dinner, you could try swapping every second drink for water, thus halving your drinks bill.
Eat out during the week; it’s cheaper
Another great way to help lower your dining bill is to eat out during the week and take advantage of the specials that many restaurants offer. Pubs are notoriously known for offering a cheap ‘Pot and Parma’ on a Thursday night, or “Ribs and Wings” Mondays, or the ever famous “Porterhouse Steak” Wednesdays. As you can see all of these specials are offered during the week and can add great value to your dining experience (as long as you stick to ordering the special of course!).
Check out group buying sites for restaurant inspiration / deals
Websites such as Groupon and Living Social can offer some amazing dining discounts – sometimes up to 70% off! I was recently on the lookout for a deal so that I could surprise my husband with a delicious Teppanyaki dinner for our wedding anniversary, and thanks to Groupon I was able to buy us a voucher at an outstanding 52% off! Now please be very mindful of the terms and conditions when it comes to purchasing and redeeming vouchers on these sites, as they do come with strict expiry dates and other conditions such as block out periods, but if you do your homework there are some fantastic savings to be had!
Buy an ‘Entertainment Book’
I have been buying our family an Entertainment book every year for almost ten years now, and can personally vouch for the amazing potential value you can get from these little gems! Entertainment books (and now the phone app) are only purchasable through charities and fundraising organisations, as they are a great way for them to raise money whilst providing value to their supporters. The book is available in several different editions depending on the state you live in, and contains hundreds of vouchers. These vouchers range from a percentage off of your total bill at a fine dining restaurant, to buy one get one free at the big food chains. They also contain many other non-food related vouchers. Personally I would think our family would make back the $65 purchase price after redeeming 2 or 3 vouchers, and then anything after that is just a bonus! You can find more details on the Entertainment book by doing a quick Google search.
How do you save money when dining out?
Do you have any tips or tricks that aren’t listed above?