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Eating out on a Budget

January 25, 2012

The Frugalette shared her top five tips for eating out on a budget.  She listed the following:

  1. Decide how much you will set aside for eating out each month. Budget!
  2. Decide what to order before you get to the restaurant. Menus can be viewed online.
  3. Eat before you go and/or order appetizers instead of a full meal.  You get the dining out experience without the full price.
  4. Pay in cash.  This will prevent you from ordering extras.
  5. Have half your meal boxed to-go before it’s brought out.  Saves money by giving you two meals in one AND prevents you from overeating!

While these are all great tips and strategies, I actually would like to amend and add to this list! My top five tips are as follows:

  1. Make an overall food budget for the month – or even the week – groceries and eating out included. Seeing how much money you’re spending for eating out for a large amount of groceries may help you make smarter choices on how you spend your hard-earned cash!
  2. Check comparable restaurants for coupons, deals, specials, and prices. If you’re looking at Applebees and TGI Fridays, and the free loyalty club at TGI Fridays just emailed you a 50% off one entrée coupon, that’s obviously the best deal!
  3. I actually recommend against ordering appetizers and go for the meal instead. Appetizers are one of the highest marked-up items on the menu (along with dessert), and you get very little for the price of the items. Good luck finding an appetizer under $5, even if your entrée is only a few dollars more! Try making an appetizer or having a drink at home first.
  4. Calculate the full price of the meal – including drinks and tip when budgeting.  Sodas can be $2 each – 4 of those will add $8 to your meal! Tip should also be 15-20% of the bill.
  5. Try and order what you can’t make yourself just as well, or food that’s worth the price you’re paying. And follow the same rules you have at home – eat slow, and enjoy your food, so you can take some of that spectacular meal home!

From → frugal living

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