Most of the time, people go out to eat, not just for the food, but for social and entertainment purposes. These six suggestions will help you get the experience at a “discount”.
- Order water – In the US, you’ll usually pay $1 to $3 for a soft drink with your meal. Water is healthier and can often reduce the cost of your meal by 10% to 20%.
- Go out for lunch – Many places charge more for the evening meal than for lunch. Sometimes the evening portions are bigger, but this isn’t always the case. If you go out for lunch you’ll often save 35% to 50% on your meal. (This seems to be particularly true for Chinese restaurants.)
- Go out just for dessert – Eating at home and going out for dessert can be a good option if you are just wanting to get out of the house. One advantage of this is that you can splurge and get something fancy without completely blowing your budget.
- Take home leftovers – If the money you paid for one meal feeds you twice, you’ve made it much more cost effective.
- Order toward the low end – Many times a $12 entree and a $35 entree don’t differ substantially in quality of taste. Most of the time the more expensive items simply reflect the additional cost of bringing in food from outside the country. However, restaurants will sometimes mark up an item more just to get a nice range of prices–someone will order the more expensive products thinking it is better.
- Share an Entree – In most US restaurants the food portions are enormous. Sharing an entree can be a good way to keep the cost down and eat portions that are more healthy. My wife and I have found that in most places we have to share an entree in order to have any room left for desert.