There are an endless number of reasons to dine out – the convenience, the delicious food, your home cooked not-so-delicious food…the list goes on. But while frequenting restaurants can be one of the great pleasures of life, the resulting bill tends to be far from it.
The price of dining out has been steadily increasing over the past two years, with the average American spending nearly $250 per month. That’s why we’ve put together 7 simple cost cutting strategies to help you enjoy your favorite restaurants without the extra helping of guilt.
1. Dine mid-week.
Avoid dining on weekends if possible. Many restaurants try to entice customers to dine on slower days with mid-week specials that can save you up to 50% off your entrée.
2. Dine out for lunch.
If you’re able to take a leisurely lunch you could rack up some great savings. Lunch menus are often similar to their dinner counterparts, but are 25% cheaper on average.
3. Go for quality
Dining at one good restaurant will generally end up cheaper than going to two mediocre ones. Splurging for a night out at the best place in town can actually save you money and keep eating out feeling special.
4. Share a large entrée.
Many restaurants are stricken with the fear of leaving a customer hungry. Take advantage of the resulting huge portions, and split your entrée with a dining companion.
5. Ditch the entrées altogether.
Chefs expend a good portion of their creativity on the appetizer selections. Being freed from the protein-starch-veg-sauce equation expected of entrées allows them the leeway to create some amazing dishes. Take advantage by ordering a couple of small plates and enjoying the savings.
6. Beware of expensive cocktails.
Restaurants commonly mark-up wine by 300% and liquor by 500% over what you’d spend at the store. These prices can easily cancel out any other savings you’ve been frugal enough to achieve. Consider heading to a BYO restaurant or sticking to water to keep your wallet fat.
7. Search for discounts.
Websites like livingsocial.com, groupon.com and restaurants.com routinely offer restaurant gift certificates for 50% off. With a little bit of forward planning you can drastically reduce your bill.