Going out to eat is fun. I enjoy not having to cook and clean once in a while and it is even better when we can score a good deal when we go out. There are some things we have done that have helped us stay in our $50 budget for going out to eat each month.
1. Drink water. You can buy a 2 liter bottle of soda for less than one glass of soda. If you really need to drink soda, do it at home before or after you go. Don't spend your money on expensive drinks when you go out.
2. Go out for appetizers or dessert only. For us, it isn't the food that matters too much but the opportunity to get away from home and spend some time together. You can even split an appetizer. Sometimes appetizers cost less than meals.
3. Split a meal. There is always more food served than you really need. It is too much to eat it all in one sitting. We try to split a meal at times or eat part of the meal and take it home to enjoy for dinner or for the next day for lunch or dinner.
4. Go out to lunch instead of dinner. Prices usually are less and many times they offer lunch menus that have great deals. Also, we have found that going out to eat Monday through Thursday is cheaper than the weekend. We can get all you can eat soup or salad, bread and an entree for about the price of a MacDonald's value meal. Plus, it tastes better, is healthier and it is enough food to last two meals.
5. Check out the specials of the day or current specials that are offered before going. We check the internet or call the restaurant before hand and find out if they have any specials.
6. Use coupons. This is much easier when you are married instead of when you are dating or going out with friends. Some people look at this at being cheap. I put a post up earlier this week about the free meal at IHOP when you sign up, plus one for your birthday and the one year anniversary of signing up for their e-mail club. That is a great deal. Many restaurants off deals like that.
What are some of the ways you save money when you go out to eat? Do you know of any restaurants or fast food places that offer free meals or something when you sign up? We would love to hear!