We love eating out, but as you know, it can get quite pricey and adds up quick! Ryan and I have always managed to eat out, even with our strict budget. I mean it’s hard to eat all 21 meals of the week at home. Plus with a little one, I prefer to not spend my time cleaning the kitchen three times (and more) a day. So here are several tips we live by to afford eating out. We spend roughly $150 a month on eating out and I’d say we eat out on average 15 times a month, some less, some more! We try to budget $100 for it, but usually spend more, especially in the summer when we’re both off!
Tips for keeping your “Dining” budget LOW:
- Buy an Entertainment Passbook. They are $20, but you can often find them cheaper and they have TONS of coupons/discounts for restaurants (fancy and fast food), as well as grocery and entertainment (i.e. golf). The first couple years of our marriage, we ate 9 out of 10 times with a coupon. Most of the coupons, especially to the fancier restaurants, are 50% off . So we’d go to a steak restaurant and get a $80 meal for $40!
- Look at the bottom of your receipts for FREEBIES – I never looked at my receipts after I purchased something, until Ryan showed me what’s on the bottom. Restaurants will have a giveaway if you fill out a quick survey online or phone (it’s automated so you don’t have to talk to anyone). The survey online usually takes 2 minutes, so totally worth your time. You can even collect all your receipts, stash them away, and fill them all out when you have some free time or are watching TV. A lot of times we get free desserts, drinks, or entrees!
- Sign up on restaurants email lists – When you dine out, look on the table for an email list sign up. This is a GREAT way to get free dinners. One of our favorites is Texas de Brazil. We signed up a few years back and every year on our birthday, we get a free meal (BOGO). They usually give you a time frame you can use your birthday giveaways, so you can usually enjoy more than one meal for free! Chili’s is always sending us coupons for free items.
- Find the weekly deals at your favorite restaurants so you know when to dine – Restaurants often advertise deals during the week when most people don’t visit. There’s nothing better than dining out during the middle of the week to keep you going. One of our favorite restaurants, Cristina’s, has $8.99 fajitas on Wednesday nights. We always share a fajitas for one anyway, so this works prefect for us! We usually get queso, fajitas, and a dessert for $25 after tip!
- Drink water when you dine out! Water is free! Especially if you have kids, those little $2 drinks can add up. I do NOT like this tip, as I really like to get tea or a Diet Coke when we eat out, but it sure does save money! If you’re picky about your water taste (which I am), ask for a lemon to squeeze in your water!
- Share a dessert if you choose to get one! There is no need for each of you to have your own dessert. Although I could eat my OWN apple pie from Cristina’s, I shouldn’t anyway!
- Don’t order alcohol – Yes, I know most people will “pshh” this tip, but we don’t really drink alcohol so this tip really saves us big. When Ryan was playing ball, his teammates would blow their paycheck so fast on alcohol. Ugh…to me that’s such a waste of money! I know we’re in the minority here, but I’m so thankful my taste buds HATE the taste of beer and wine! We save so much money without drinking. And yes, believe it or not, we still have fun! Restaurants often hike up the price on alcohol, so save your drinking for home. Plus it’s much safer!
- Limit your eating out to places that require a tip. That tip is sometimes an extra meal!
- Keep a “cash system” for your Dining Budget! If you budget $100 for dining and put that cash in an envelope, it’s pretty easy to see how much you have left. And when you’re done, you’re done. *We don’t do this!
- Look at your plate when you’re done with your meal! If you always have food left on your plate, scale back next time you eat out! Unless you plan to eat half your meal and save the other half for lunch the next day. It’s always fun to have restaurant food for lunch the next day!
|My 27th birthday. Eating at Cacharel…discounted!|
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The Copeland Family says
Love this post! We get water EVERYWHERE we go, it saves us at least 8-10 dollars, it's free and healthier. We're not alcohol or coke drinkers anyway, but don't judge those who are or anything We joined up on all our favorite places, birthday/anniversary email club…we love it. We love Grimaldi's Pizza and they send us a free, large pizza every year for our birthday. I am going to have to try BOGO! 🙂 And, it's funny that you mentioned looking at the bottom of the receipts as I just filled out McAlister's survery for three dollars off…they give 99-cent kids meals every day of the week, too! Okay, enough rambling on my part, thanks for sharing your tips.
Yea water is such a money saver. I hate drinking water all the time though. The last couple of years we don't think twice about ordering water – we just get what we want, but I'm sure we'll be back to water now that I'm staying home. 🙂 We get the same deal at Grimaldi's. Good to know about McAlister's…$0.99 for a kid's meal is pretty good. Thanks for the tip! I'm sure I'll be staking out all the kids deals once we have more and they're older!
Rebecca Faulkner says
Thanks for all the tips!!!