Consider that one time eating out can burn up half of your grocery budget for the week! Do that a couple of times and your budget is blown for the month! Here are 12 Tips to help you save money at a restaurant.
Split a Plate
Split a Plate. Seriously, fajitas for one are big enough for two! As are most entrees at any restaurant these days
Order off the Kids Menu
Order off the children’s menu. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told the burger is the same size, they just give you fewer fries (for about half the price).
Opt for Water
Remember the good ol’ days when an iced tea was $.75. Ya, those days are long gone. The going rate is about $2.75.Skip the cokes, teas, lemonade, juice, and coffee. Opt for water with a lemon.
Skip the Libations
Add booze and you’re not the only one who’s tanked- so is your budget. Cocktails can easily run $8-16 each! This will double your bill in a hurry!
Half-Size or Lunch Portions
Ask for half size or lunch portions. Restaurants don’t usually advertise this, but many restaurants offer half sized portions.
Take home your leftover. Yes, even that little dab of refried beans and rice makes a killer quesadilla the next day on those leftover tortillas. It’s also easy to make another pot of rice for that leftover Chinese, Thai or Indian.
Skip the Extras
Skip the upsell- appetizers, extra sauces, desserts, and as much as it pains me to say it, my beloved queso and guacamole . Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.
Watch out for that extra bowl of chips and salsa or plate of bread- most places don’t charge for it, but some do.
Avoid Delivery Services
Skip the delivery services. Sorry y’all, but by the time you add a delivery charge and tip, you could have had another burger. Seriously. Opt instead to go pick it up yourself.
Limit How Often You Eat Out
Limit the amount of times you eat out weekly-make this a separate line item in your budget. Keep a frozen pizza or burgers and fries in the freezer. These can really save your budget when you’ve had a rough day and just can’t muster to cook.
Ahhh the lovable, luscious, latte- how I adore thee. Here in the Northwest, there is a coffee shop on every corner and the slogan is “more espresso, less depresso” (in all fairness, winters are really dark and gloomy). Seriously, I have never lived anywhere more caffeinated. That said, it’s worth noting here. It’s a sneaky little devil that comes in at $3.75, which doesn’t seem like much. Tip, and it’s five or six bucks a pop. Do that daily, and over the course of a month that’s $150 bucks! Over the course of a year that’s $1800! Opt for coffee at home and save this one for a special treat. Your budget and your bank account will thank you!
Finally, when traveling, opt for all inclusive, eat the complimentary breakfast at your hotel, or meal prep and pack your own.
Added bonus- all of these tip help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep calories, fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol in check.
Menu Planning at Home
For me, meal planning is key! Each week I make a meal plan, shop in my pantry and refrigerator and then create a grocery list for fresh fruits and veggies and any other ingredients we need for the week. This takes all of the guesswork and surprises out of my week. I also plan when we will eat out. We typically reserve this for Friday night or Saturday.
If you need a menu planner or a budget template, check out the resources page on our website. Happy budgeting my frugal friends!
Jenna Dowell is the owner of Elevations Wellness & Financial Coaching, Nurse Exec, Mountain Girl, Dog Mama, Adventurer and Fellow Dreamer.