8 Clever Ways to Save Money When Dining Out
During this time of year, I will be eating out a lot. This upcoming week I will be eating out 4 of the 5 workdays. While some of those meals out will be paid by vendors or my company, for the ones I am funding, I’d like to keep as much money in my pocket as possible, while still enjoying myself.
Here at Lady Dividend, our focus on savings is always going to be on big wins rather than pinching pennies. So I’m of the opinion that it is unnecessary to cut eating out in order to reach your financial goals. Eating good food while enjoying the company of family and friends has to be one of the most underrated joys in life. So savour it, and instead try one of these eight clever tricks to save money next time you are in a restaurant.
- Don’t order brunch out – The fact that brunch has increased in popularity is a real pet peeve of mine. Most breakfast/brunch foods are very cheap and simple to prepare. Why are you paying over $10 for fried eggs, toast, cut fruit and homefries? Brunch is convenient to prepare at home. That’s the only place you should be eating brunch. You don’t even have to shower before eating! See #6, below, for the only exception to this rule.
- Order a few sides – This is not the same as ordering a few appetizers- those can add up to cost more than a main course! As a vegetarian I’m often forced to order side dishes, and I realized that two or three of them at $4 each, or $6 in a fancy restaurant, can be just as filling and cheaper than ordering a main.
- Choose soup – Soups are cheap, nutritious and filling. It’s very likely that a large soup will fill you up, in addition to being one of the least expensive items on the menu.
- With alcohol, be flexible – If you want a drink while out, my suggestion is to be flexible. I love red wine and usually you can get a glass for $7-$9. However for some reason, in some restaurants a glass of wine costs as much as a main course. If this is the case, look into beers. What are the drink specials today? Can you split a bottle of wine with the table and save money? If you’re flexible, you’re more likely to go home satisfied.
- Upgrade your appetizer – I often ask to order an appetizer as a main with a side. Usually staff will add a combination of potatoes and veggies to make my app even heartier. If you choose carefully, you can save $5- $10 compared to a main course, while eating something that looks like a main.
- Order breakfast takeout – Lady Dividend, didn’t you just say to avoid ordering breakfast and brunch? That’s true, in a restaurant. If you forgot your lunch and are ordering takeout or grab and go, it’s cheaper to order a breakfast sandwich than a lunch item. Most breakfast items save you money when you’re going to grab and go.
- Get 10-15% off – Join an association which will save you 10-15% on your meal. A fitness studio I frequented bit gives 10% off at my favourite restaurant when you show your key fob. I’m no longer a member but I keep my fob and display it proudly. You can get similar deals when joining CAA, your Vegetarian Association, or rewards points cards.
- Take half home – I learned this trick when I was following Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet. Her recommendation is to bring a container and put half your meal in the container when your order first arrives. This ensures you don’t overeat, and at the same time you’ll have something ready for your next meal.
This is the season to enjoy time with family and friends, and next time you are in a restaurant try one or two of these clever tips. If you can get a meal below $10, you’re winning in my book.
What are some ways you save money while eating out?