We know, we know—it’s cheaper to cook your own food than to eat out. But you still deserve an occasional night out with your friends, or a Sunday lunch with your family. If you’re an entrepreneur, taking clients out is a necessary business expense. And for some people, trying out new dishes is a passion and a hobby–and as long as it’s within your budget, there’s nothing wrong with that either!Here are some money saving tips for eating out.
Choose what’s worth buying
A week’s worth of morning frappuccinos can get you a delicious dinner at the new Italian restaurant everyone’s been talking about. And instead of having a burger for lunch every day, you could bring food to the office and then splurge on a great steak on Friday, to reward yourself for a hard week’s work. In other words, if you’re going to eat out, might as well make it a conscious decision—a reward, a treat, a real culinary delight.
Most of us, though, buy food because of convenience, not because we really like the food we’re buying. Consider these cheap alternatives: instead of buying Starbucks, set the coffee pot on timer the night before, and have it ready when you wake up. Instead of buying overpriced, greasy food at the office canten, bring a microwaveable meal.
Check the websites of your favorite restaurants
Just run a Google search on the restaurant’s name. You may be able to find promotional offers, like discounts on certain days, or budget combos. You can also go to citysearch.com to find the bargains in your neighborhood. Also ask the restaurant I it has a rewards program.
Get gift certificates
Websites like restaurant.com lets you buy coupons and gift certificates for more than a thousand restaurants around the United States. You buy at a discounted rate (like $10 for a $25 gift certificate) giving instant savings no matter what your final bill is.
Go out for lunch instead
Meeting up with friends? Do lunch instead of dinner. Most lunch menus cost at least $15 less than the average dinner, plus the portions are healthier too. You also resist the temptation of ordering drinks, which are usually pricey.
Use your credit card rewards
Many credit cards have rewards and promos where you get discounts or freebies at affiliated restaurants. Check the website of your credit card, or read the inserts that come with your bill (yes, they are useful after all).
Get coupon books
If you like eating out, look for Entertainment or Happenings books that are used primarily for fund raisers for organizations. These usually give discounted rates for participating restaurants and even in entertainment venues like movie theaters, theme parks, museums, etc.
Photo from couchworld.wordpress.com