It’s been a long day and as you pass your favorite restaurant, you realize that the last thing you feel like doing is going home, hauling out the pots and pans, and figuring out what to fix for dinner. Or maybe it’s Sunday, church has just let out and some good friends say, “Hey, let’s all head over to the Olive Garden!” and your kids start begging. Or you’ve spent the day watching a sporting event and it’s now 6pm. Your buddies want to stop off for supper and you haven’t been able to print your Restaurant.com gift certificate.
So you cave in and decide to go ahead and go out to eat, doing some mental calculations … hmm, $12 for me, $12 for my spouse, $12 for my sixteen year old and her fifteen year old sister, $6 for my son, plus beverages, plus tax, plus tip … $70 – $80 plus for lunch. Wait, did I do that right? Ouch. Talk about a budget buster! And then there’s all that uneaten food on the kid’s plates. Sigh.
There are a few ways to lessen that restaurant bill:
1. Eat an appetizer as an entree
Appetizers are usually cheaper than entrees because they don’t have all the side items that accompany entrees. That can mean less food wasted. Just watch out for all the fried stuff.
2. Split meals
My wife and I have started splitting meals. Since most restaurants have portions large enough for an NFL middle linebacker, splitting a meal is relatively easy, though it can be a challenge if one of you has a preference for spicy foods and the other thinks that Doritos are too spicy. Add a side salad and a loaded baked potato as side items and you’ve actually got two meals for the price of one.
3. Kids eat free
Check out My Kids Eat Free and make use of their research on restaurants that are family friendly and allow your kids to eat for free! Other sites you should check out include Kids Meal Deals, and Kids Eat 4 Free.
4. Drink water
Beverages in a restaurant setting are exorbitantly expensive. I regularly see iced tea for $2.99! Multiply that by my family of five, add a 15% tip and 9% tax, and I’ve spent about $18.50. We’ve moved to the free option – ice water with a wedge of lemon. Add a little sugar to it and you can make a weak lemonade for picky kids who “don’t like the taste of water.”
5. Eat soup
A bowl or even just a cup of soup with some hearty bread can save you some big bucks. Plus many restaurant soups get overlooked even though they’re very good!
6. Eat lunch not dinner
Not all restaurants are cheaper at lunch, but many still are. If you can manage to go out for lunch (or even breakfast) rather than supper, you can also save.
7. Make it at home
If you just have to get your restaurant fix, consider making the same recipe at home. How? Check out:
Help me out!
What other ways can you and I lessen our restaurant bill?