3 Easy Ways to Save Money Dining Out

Freda A. Nix

Going out to eat is fun, and is a real treat, but many times the cost is much more than what you could make the same meal for at home. True, you have someone else to do the preparation and the emenu restaurant dishes, but the tradeoff is money, sometimes lots of it. I understand that restaurants are in the business to make money, they have costs, etc., but when you need to watch your outflow of money, here are some things to keep in mind.

Just by rough calculation, a dinner of grilled fish, rice and steamed vegetables that costs you $14.95 at a restaurant can be made at home for about one-third to one-fourth the price. That means that same grilled fish dinner costs you about $2-$3 at home. Multiply that price by the number of people at your table, and you will see that the savings add up quickly. Even “cheap meals” at any restaurant follow the same cost rule.

If you do want to splurge and go to a restaurant for a change of pace, try going at lunch, where the meals typically are less costly. Or, you might check and see if you can get a discount coupon in the local newspaper or discount book. Yes, it is a little hokey, but saving $5 or more on a meal overcomes hokey any day. Use that money you saved to buy something that you really want or put it toward a bill.

Another thing that you might try with a food ordering system when you just have to get out is to order a couple of appetizers and split them with your date. We did this the other night and it was great! The restaurant was very pricey, but they had unlimited trips to their fabulous salad bar and some great appetizers. We ordered salad bars and one appetizer each. Our bill was far less than the usual charge for one meal. The food was delicious and it was a relaxing and fun date for us! Good food and no guilt when the bill arrived.

My girlfriend and I like to meet for lunch occasionally. When I am short on cash I just make an easy meal at home and have her over instead of meeting somewhere. It is a little work on my part, but she loves tto home cook and I don’t feel guilty about spending money I don’t have. Next time she can invite me over or maybe we will do something different. Once I met her on her birthday at the park with a blanket and a picnic basket full of fried chicken and the works, even birthday cake. She still talks about it. The funny part is that it turned my day completely around: I had been feeling sorry for myself because I had no money to take her to lunch. She never knew that is why I opted for a picnic on that beautiful day. Being creative with meals is fun! You come out looking clever and you will feel good too.

Going out to eat is enjoyable, but if you are trying to watch costs, just go out occasionally and be creative and enjoy low budget meals the rest of the time!

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