Let’s face it, it’s expensive to eat out these days. I like to eat out just as much as the next guy does. My budget, on the other hand, doesn’t always allow me to.
If you’ve been hanging around here any amount of time, you know that I encourage you to be on a budget. So, like any other budget category, I encourage you to set an amount for your eating out and stick with it. If you’re ever going to attain your financial goals, you must live within your means. There have been many times when I have had to decline dinner or lunch offers because I didn’t have the cash. So, I’m not asking you to do something I haven’t done myself. Sticking with a budget isn’t always easy but it’s worth it when you attain your goal.
I have some friends that use the envelope system with the eating out portion of their budget. They stick their cash for the week in an envelope and when it’s gone they don’t eat out until next week. It’s proven that you spend less when you use cash.
The girls at work know that I only eat out once a week and bring my lunch the rest of the time. There have also been times when our dining budget has been low and Trent and I made it a game to see who could eat for the cheapest. Challenge yourself and make it fun.
Here are a few tips that can help you save when eating out on a budget.
- Look for Coupons – Many restaurants offer coupons. We frequently get coupon books in the mail. I place these in my car so that we will have them when we go out. If you know where you’re going beforehand, check their website for coupons. Restaurant.com is also a great site to get coupons in your area.
- Eat Out on Tuesday Nights – This is the slowest night of the week for restaurants and they offer great deals to get people in the door.
- Drink Water – Most restaurants charge $1.50-$2.50 for drinks.
- Share a Meal – Portion sizes for most entrees are usually enough food for two people. If you add a side salad, you’ll have plenty.
- Sign up for E-Newsletters with Your Favorite Restaurant – As always, beware of junk mail and sign up using your deals email. This is a great way to know when they’re having specials. They also send deals on your birthday or the anniversary date that you signed up.
- Get Carry-out – For some, the idea of eating out is great because you don’t have to cook the meal yourself. Getting carry-out enables you to not have to cook dinner, plus you don’t have to tip as much.
Being thrifty does not mean you need to be stingy. Food service is hard work so always remember to leave a good tip. If you’re using a coupon or discount, you should always tip on the amount before the coupon.
What other ways do you save on your eating out budget?
Using the buy one get one free coupons – and splitting the first meal with my husband and splitting the second meal with him for lunch the following day. I'll usually add another vegetable item or a salad and we always go carry-out! Great Tips, Thanks!
We rarely go out to eat and if we do it's likely a special occassion or because it's free (gift card, coupons, etc) :) We always order water with our meals. I also take my lunch to work or go home and grab a bite. Eatting out can really take a chunk out of a budget!
Nancy, I love the idea of the bogo and sharing meals!!! Thanks for sharing.Jamie, My husband loves to eat out so there's no way I could not have that as part of our budget. Plus, I don't have to cook. Corrin, You're exactly right. I never thought about it giving you an extra meal a month. That's a good point.
It's amazing how much you can save just by ordering water. We love to go out to eat, and cutting out the pricey fountain drinks lets us eat out an extra meal every month.