Five Tips for Eating Out on a Budget

eating out on a budgetEating out is a blissful way to de-stress and live life to the fullest, filled with drinks, great food, and a social setting that produces some of our best memories to be formed. On the flip-side of things, however, dining out can also prove to be excruciatingly expensive, existing as a money-swallowing social habit that can lead to some serious bummed-out vibes upon checking the status of your bank account.

Rather than giving up restaurant ventures altogether, we’ve provided a slew of helpful tips for enjoying a night out while not leaving you penniless by the end of the evening.

Pay attention to the nightly specials

As easy as it is for your eyes to skip right past the enumerated specials on the menu, make a bold attempt to give the list more than a passing glance. Sometimes restaurants will offer throwaway specials on desserts you don’t want anyway, but other times you’ll find that restaurants desperate to draw business or attention from critics will highlight fantastic entrees and appetizers with eye-catching buy one, get one❠deals or budget-conducive reduced prices. Furthermore, consider coupon applications and websites like Groupon to be your new best friend for eating out â“ deals can range from half-off❠specials to, on a rare occasion, getting an entire meal (or at least a drink) free of charge.

Take restaurants for a test drive

If you’re dying to check out a new restaurant, try checking it out without throwing large sums of cash out the window if you just want the experience.❠Keep in mind that, unless you stumble upon an uncannily grumpy restaurant owner, no one is going to throw you out of the joint for only ordering a beer and an appetizer. Keep your goals in mind when going to a restaurant, and try picking your new favorite places by dabbling with the menu rather than ordering a feast for five. Better yet, upon finding these places, establish yourself as a regular â“ who knows, you might find yourself with a cheaper bill one night than you deserve or a free dessert to top off your meal.

Check out the lunch menu

Though there are portion differences, there are also marked price differences. A smaller portion of the entrée you desired for a lower price is more than an acceptable compromise for being able to afford eating out. You also gain the benefit of receiving better service, as most servers are fully aware that someone ordering a lunch special is ⓠmost likely ⓠon their lunch break and in a hurry to get back to their place of work.

Don’t let your drinks cost more than your meal

Large drink tabs can overwhelm a bill total, which is generally the basic business idea behind a bar/restaurant. As a solution, if you plan on drinking more than one alcoholic beverage during your night out, plan to follow-up your restaurant experience with a trip to a local bar that boasts some pocketbook-friendly drink specials. You’ll be happy you did when you find that you haven’t wasted more money on your drinks than you intended to spend on your entire three-course meal.

Avoid splitting bills

If your friend or business associate declares that you can both split the bill, talk your way out of it by suggesting the server bring back separate checks. There is no need to deal with the extravagant meal expenditure of your company if you only ordered a BLT and a cola. Also plan to pay the tip based on the calculation of what you ordered, rather than allocating the entire tip to one person.

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