How to dine out for less

How to dine out for less

Who doesn’t love to go out on the town and eat a great meal? It’s one of America’s favorite activities! But the cost of a “Night Out” can be outrageous!

Photo Credit: Copernicus Johnson
By K Sprang

Eating out means a break for the whole family, especially for the cook in the family! There is no cooking required, and no table to clear, and no dishes to wash afterwards. That means that you and your family can dine out and spend some quality time together without any work involved.

The only problem with eating out is… the bill. Depending on the menu of the restaurant you visit, your family’s choice of foods, and the size of their appetites, the bill could easily reach fifty dollars or more on just the main meal. Add in appetizers, side salads, drinks, and desserts all around the table to top off the meal, and those could add another fifty percent to your bill. And, finally, to figure how much a dining out experience will totally cost you, add in the applicable taxes and a fifteen to twenty percent tip for the waiter or waitress!

Don’t let these numbers scare you, though. Because, you can still afford to take your family to a restaurant as long as you’re a wise consumer. A “wise” consumer follows these tips in order to make your family’s eating out experiences affordable, and fun for the entire family!

Tip 1 – Use Coupons Whenever Possible
You can find money saving restaurants in many places. They are often in your local newspapers, in a restaurant itself, in phone books, and in packages of free coupons you get in your mail box. Restaurant coupons can often be found on products that you buy at the grocery store too.

The best coupons offer you a free food or a “Buy One, Get One” Offer.

Also, take advantage of “Entertainment Coupon Books” if they are available in your area. These books usually cost around twenty dollars or so. But, the savings they can bring you can be as much as a couple hundred of dollars! Be sure to check with your local chamber of commerce office to see if these coupon books are available for you.

Tip 2 – Eat Dinner Earlier in the Day
Most restaurants offer “Lunch Specials” that are good until four o’clock. The difference between a lunch special and an evening dinner can sometimes be five dollars or more! So, gather up the family in the afternoon and dine out before the prices go up in the evening hours!

Tip 3 – Consider Sharing Large Orders
Have you noticed that oftentimes a “single order” at a restaurant can be an entire platter full of food!
And then you find yourself sitting there trying to stuff it all in your mouth! Or, you find yourself asking the server for a doggy bag so you can take it home and reheat it later. Instead of going through this hassle, why don’t you order just one meal for two people? Most restaurants will be happy to oblige you with one meal and two plates. Not only will this tip save you money, but it will also save your waistline!

Tip 4 – Choose Restaurants That Offer Buffets
A restaurant that offers a buffet to their diners has to be one of the best inventions in the culinary world! Not only can everyone pick and choose what they want to eat, but the main courses, the appetizers, the salads, and the desserts are all available for just one price!

Since a buffet is set up so you and your family serve themselves, there’s no need to leave a tip for a waitress or a waiter. And, sometimes, buffet style restaurants let kids under a certain age eat for free!

When you’re choosing which restaurant to eat at, remember that a buffet style restaurant is always filling and affordable for you and your family!

Tip 5 – Watch for Family Night Specials that Restaurants Offer
In the world of restaurants, as in other industries, there are peak periods and there are slow periods. Therefore, in order to draw in you and your family during a slow period, a restaurant will offer a
“Family Night.” (Since Mondays and Tuesdays are often slow periods for a restaurant, this night will often be one of those two days.) On this night, you might be able to take advantage of a special such as, “Buy a regular meal and get a kid’s meal for free.” Or, maybe you’ll get a free dessert for every meal you order.

Finally, dining out can be a great experience for you and your family! It can provide some quality time that you all will be able to enjoy… and afford!

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