I LOVE going out to eat. I mean, who wouldn't? You don't have to cook or clean up afterwards!
However, going out to eat takes up a large amount of some families' budgets. While going out to eat can be convenient, it can also be expensive. Thankfully, there are ways to cut the expense. Whether you make going out to eat special or look for restaurants where kids eat free, you can save money. This is how we cut our going out to eat budget.
Make Going Out to Eat Special
It's easy to get into the habit of eating out all the time. Many families eat out at least two to three times a week. Sit down and come up with easy meals that can be made even on the busiest nights (or even make freezer meals ahead of time). This will allow you and your family to eat at home more often. You can then choose one night a week (or month) that is reserved for going out. This makes eating out much more enjoyable.
Couponing isn't only for groceries and household items. You can find a number of coupons for restaurants. If you sign up for the newsletter from your favorite restaurants, you'll usually get awesome deals delivered straight to your inbox (and maybe even a freebie for your birthday). This can save you so much money. Another great tip is to download the restaurant's app. For example, McDonald's has an app that lets you save on your favorite foods.
If a restaurant has a loyalty program, sign up for it even if you don't eat there on a regular basis. You never know what savings you can build up over time.
Choose Appetizers OR Dessert
When you do go out to eat, don't feel that you need to go all out. Instead of ordering appetizers and dessert, choose one or the other (or none). This can cut your bill dramatically. Appetizers usually cost $5 to $10 each and desserts are around $5 each. With a family of four, you can quickly decrease the total of your bill by choosing one or the other.
At over $2 per drink these days, just having a soft drink with your meal can be killer on the budget. We typically drink water with our meals at restaurants, which is a savings of over $8 for our family of 4 (and better for us anyway!).
Split an Entree
Many restaurants have huge portions that are loaded with fat and calories. Instead of letting part of the food go to waste, or taking it home to put in the fridge to only throw it away later, split an entree. If your kids are very small, they can usually split their entree without issue.
Look for Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
Last, but not least, seek out restaurants that let kids eat free. A number of buffet restaurants let kids eat free. While kids meals aren't as expensive as adult entrees, this can still cut your costs, especially if you combine this tip with the ones listed above.
You don't have to spend a lot of money eating out each week. There are so many ways to cut your expenses. Whether you find restaurants where kids eat free or clip coupons, you can save money.