Eat Out and Save

>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We have talked about some ways to avoid eating out in an attempt to help the pocket book, but there are times when we enjoy and look forward to a meal with a spouse or friend that we didn't have to cook or do the dishes. Here are some tips to save a few dollars anyway.

Clip coupons: Most fast food chains and many family style restaurants have a series of coupons they mail out or that can be found in the weekend paper.  They offer savings to the wise, so gather them in one place and refer to them when planning your outing. You may want to keep them in the car if you don't usually plan ahead. You can also get a yearly Happenings book for many cities or visit restaurant.com for discount meals.

Drink water:  If there are just two of you and you each order a simple lemonade, you have probably added about $6 to your tab.

Share the food: Once when I went out to eat with a friend, she ordered her meal and a take out box at the same time.  When the meal came, she immediately separated half of it into the box, then enjoyed the half remaining on her plate.  She left with a second meal for her fridge, and she had practiced portion control.  We can apply the same principle by sharing an entree or a dessert with a spouse or friend.

Use the drive-thru: In our area, a tip is not expected at fast food-type restaurants, so often in the warm months, we order at the drive thru and take our meal to a park to eat under a tree. We get a nice visit and scenery for less cash.

Just desserts: Sometimes, for our date night, my husband and I will have a simple meal with the children and then go out for an activity and dessert at a fun restaurant.  I get the eating out experience in a whole new way, as I'm usually too full to try a dessert if we have already eaten an entree!

Soup or salad: My husband will often order a bowl of soup.  It usually comes with a type of bread and he gets his meal for pretty cheap.  The same idea usually holds true if you try a salad.

Consider your situation:  If you are choosing a restaurant, think about why you are going.  To visit? Avoid the noisy sports-bar type places.  To have a new culinary adventure? Ask around, do your homework.  Enjoy every dollar you spend to have that experience. Many restaurants have a menu to view online and some information about what you can expect there.  Don't forget to look for a coupon, or try the daily special,  it usually will be tasty and either a few dollars off, or a something-nice thrown in.  Don't scrimp by not leaving a tip where it is called for! That is not  the way to save a few dollars. Be aware of week day specials, for instance, Village Inn offers a free slice of pie on Wednesdays when you order any menu item.  I love free pie!  If you have other ideas to share, I'm always looking for a good one!
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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

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