Wednesday, December 8, 2010
When the family budget gets cut (as it likely has in this ongoing economic recession), eating out is often one of the first things to go. It is simply more financially sound to stretch your every dollar by shopping at the store, buying in bulk, and making family meals for pennies per person that can be eaten again as leftovers. But there are certainly special events (or long, hard days at work) that will warrant a night away from the kitchen. So on these occasions, it may benefit you to know that there are a lot of ways to save money on dining out (and not just by opting for Denny’s, IHOP, or other bottom-of-the-barrel sit-down restaurants). Here are a few ways to have your cake and eat it, too (without having to wash the dishes afterwards).
Coupons and clubs. Instead of tossing discount mailers in the junk pile, peruse the pages to see if you like any of the restaurants listed therein. Many offer discounts up to 50% off or even buy one get one free deals. This can drastically cut your bill when you take the family out to eat. For chains, you can often get coupons online by taking a survey, signing up for a club, or opting to receive email notices of upcoming deals. An entertainment book is another option, although you will have to pay for it. And if you’re an AAA member, you may be surprised by how many restaurants will give you a discount.
Share a meal. Many establishments bring you a huge plate of food (with an oversized price tag to go with it). Since most people can’t finish these too-large portions, perhaps you should consider splitting something with your spouse or kids. This way you can all have a great meal, avoid overeating, and spend a lot less.
Go for family style. Some restaurants offer family-style dining as well as individual portions. For example, an Italian eatery may offer a plate of pasta, a bowl of salad, or a meat dish that is made for four (or more). You will certainly pay more than single-plate options, but since everyone will eat the same fare, you’ll only have to order one or two dishes to feed the whole crew.
Kids eat free. If you’re looking for a place that’s kid-friendly (as in, they have food that appeals to both the adults and the children in your party), you might as well seek restaurants in your area that also offer a night for kids to eat free. Many places have one night a week where kids under a certain age can order off the kids menu for free (during certain hours). As a way to get out of the house and eat for less, you could do worse than to get free food for half of your party.
Order lunch. Generally, the lunch menu is only available until late afternoon, but if you can swing by a restaurant early in the day, you can place an order and take it home for later. This is beneficial in a couple of ways. First, you get smaller portions, which means you don’t end up paying for a lot of extra food that tastes terrible reheated. An additional savings comes from the fact that you don’t have to add a gratuity to the check when you order takeout.
Kyle Simpson writes for Cheaper Car Insurance where you can compare rates and the find the best deals on auto insurance.