Eating out is practically ingrained in American culture. A typical family eats out at least twice a week, and most people find themselves celebrating everything from birthdays to the end of the workweek at a restaurant. The cost of all those meals can really add up. Try these tips to lower your bills.
1. Eat breakfast or lunch.
At most restaurants, breakfast and lunch menus cost a lot less than dinner. At upscale establishments, there is rarely a minimum purchase amount at lunch, so you can save a lot of money and still get to eat at your favorite places.
2. Avoid holidays.
Eating out on Father’s Day or Thanksgiving is a tradition in a lot of families, but there are a lot of reasons to avoid these days in restaurants. To start, they are almost always too crowded, meaning long waits to get a table and then long waits for service. Secondly, most establishments take advantage of the holiday to increase their rates. Buffets will typically add a special dish or two and then increase prices by a few dollars a person. Other restaurants will offer special holiday menus that allow them to disguise their price increases. Save money and time by celebrating the holiday a day or two earlier.
3. Look for coupons.
Many eateries offer coupons, but you have to know where to find them. Look for deals in your local newspaper, through apps on your smartphone, and online. If you regularly eat at several different restaurants, keep the coupons in your glove box in your car so that you’ll be able to access the coupons when you make a last minute decision on where to eat.
4. Skip drinks.
Beer, wine, and mixed drinks are some of the most profitable items for most restaurants, meaning that they have the highest mark-up. Even the prices for sodas can add two to five dollars per plate. Order water, and you’ll save calories and money.
5. Split an entree.
Let’s face it, most orders at a restaurant are just too big for one person to eat. Instead of leaving most of it behind, ask a friend or relative to split it with you. Most restaurants will even put your order on two separate plates if you ask your server.