The rising cost of eating out has outpaced the increasing cost of groceries according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means families who often eat out lose a hefty chunk of change over the course of a year, which most families could use for other things or even bank.
So how can families significantly reduce their eating-out expenses without giving up its ease and convenience? You’ll be happy to discover that it isn’t an impossible feat. Here are 7 ways to save money eating out.
Eliminate the beverages.
Beverages add up to 10-30% of the cost of dining out. So, order tap water to drink instead. Not only will you save money, it’s also healthier for your family, especially considering the average person doesn’t drink nearly enough water.
Rather than dining in, your family can have their selection of beverages from home. You’ll also save on tipping, which tacks another 15-20% onto your bill. For eating on the road, keep a supply of soda or bottled water in a cooler in your vehicle so you can avoid ordering beverages when you’re on the go.
Eat an early dinner.
Look for restaurants that offer special lunch-hour pricing that extends late into the afternoon. Then take advantage of it by going out for an early dinner shortly before the lunch pricing ends.
Kids eat free.
Some restaurants offer “kids eat free” deals when they’re dining with adults. Look online or call around to find local restaurants that offer this deal. Be sure to find out whether there are specific days and times or any particular requirements for this deal.
Go to a happy hour.
Many bars and grills offer appetizer specials during happy hour. Depending on the appetizers, they can often suffice as a meal.
Watch for restaurant coupons in your mailbox or newspaper. Also, visit restaurant.com, where you can buy restaurant certificates for 50-80% below their face value. Groupon is another option with similar restaurant deals. You might also want to order your city’s entertainment book at entertainment.com. This thick book is packed with restaurant coupons among coupons for many other forms of family entertainment.
Look for big servings.
By eating at restaurants with heaping servings, your family can order fewer plates and share them. Another option is for everyone to order their choice of dinner. Then plan to take half of your meals home, so you get two for the price of one.