Fine dining can be expensive, especially on a tight budget. Read 5 great dining on a budget tips that let you have your cake and eat it too!
Everyone enjoys a good restaurant meal from time to time. The sights, sounds, and flavors can add much-needed variety to any night. Just add a few drinks and good company and you've got a nice evening in the works. But, as you probably know, eating out really can damage your personal finances. Here's a few ways to cut back on your tab:
1. Avoid the Appetizers
Appetizers can be more than a little tempting. When dining on a budget, these culinary delights, while tasty, are generally not worth the extra bucks. When shared between two or more people, they don't do much for you. On the contrary, appetizers can spoil your appetite if you're not divvying up the servings. If you're looking to get more munch for your money, order an extra entrée and share it with two or more people.
2. Opt for Water
You can save a lot of money by sticking to iced water. Unless you're drinking during happy hour, alcoholic drinks can be very expensive. Alcohol typically has the highest markup of all restaurant items. Steer clear of fancy cocktails, imported beers, and straight liquor. Even sodas, teas, and coffee can burst a dinner budget. If you do decide to order a beer, wine, or liquor, ask about specials. Order the house wine or share a beer. Mixed drinks often go down very quickly, so ask them to go light on the ice. And if you do purchase a liquor drink, limit yourself to one. But, nothing quenches your thirst and saves you cash at a restaurant quite like water.
3. Split Meals
In the words of Ritika Puri of Investopedia.com, "If you're visiting a restaurant with notoriously large portions, split your meals." Restaurant portions can often be too large for one person to consume—especially at chain restaurants. Try sharing a meal and a large salad instead of ordering two full entrees. If you're worried about not getting enough, order an extra side. Just make sure the restaurant doesn't charge a fee for the extra plate. You'll have an easier time controlling your portion sizes with less food on the table.
4. Take Advantage of Special Offers
If you're looking for other great ways to start dining on a budget at restaurants, be on the lookout for specials. Many chain and bar restaurants have big deals during happy hour, which typically occurs somewhere between the hours of 4 and 7. Also, try to go to restaurants where kids can eat free or get discounted meals, like a special kid’s menu. Some restaurants even offer senior discounts. Be sure to cut or print out any restaurant coupons for future savings at your favorite places.
5. Have Dessert and Coffee at Home
Much like alcohol, dessert can empty your wallet. Instead of spending 4 to 8 dollars on dessert, enjoy a few chocolates, brownies, or some ice cream at home. And the same goes for coffee—it's just another few dollars you don't need to spend. Have a pot ready to brew so you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee at home with your dessert.
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Puri, Ritika. "6 Easy Ways To Save At Restaurants - Investopedia.com." Financial Edge - Investopedia.com. 27 May 2011. Web. 16 Dec. 2011.
 Simpleorganizedliving.com. 7 Sept. 2011. Web.