Eating at restaurants has become an ingrained ritual in our culture. All of our good or bad experiences are usually followed up with a meal out somewhere with friends and family at our latest favorite dining establishment. Or sometimes it is just because the new place on the corner opened up and we want to try it out right away! So, part of our dining out experience is social and part of it is for the food we love to eat. But in recent times we have all been trying to stretch our dollars further and going out for dinner or lunch is one of the places we can get creative and save some precious dough (pun intended).
Here are some points to ponder when making your choices:
Just like the sage advice of having a snack or meal before you go do your food shopping, you could also go to the restaurant with regular hunger and not ravenous starvation. Usually when we plan our favorite meals out; we make room for “enough food for a small army” but we don’t have to do that, we can still have our favorites without ordering half the menu and regretting it when the bill comes. Also, that means we can frequent our favorite places more often and not deprive ourselves with the binge and purge method of dining.
Alcohol, specialized coffees and drinks, desserts (unless you are going out for dessert) or any specialty items are going to break the bank if you are not careful. Again, if you are specifically going out to have these items then so be it; but know going in that the marketing professionals have marked these items higher because they are usually impulse purchases. Just be clear on getting more value for whatever you have in your budget.
Knowing when to say no is crucial because every time you get with different people they are always going to suggest to meet them at the corner diner or the steak house on the east side of town. Pretty soon you have eaten out in restaurants 12 times this week and it’s only Wednesday! Choose your social occasions wisely or ask your people to join you at your house for a barbeque once a week. You can also set up a system where you all order a certain dish or food and split it up so you can get variety and also save cash.
To go completely cold turkey and not dine out would probably throw me into shock mode; so I have had to come up with these ideas so I can still enjoy my meals without any remorse when I do my checkbook!