Although I love to dine out, this is also one of my favorite cost cutting topics...here are some thoughts and suggestions of restaurant savings ideas I have experienced personally.
1. Eat at home more often.
This is a rather obvious one, but in today's hustle and bustle lifestyle, eating out at restaurants has become much more common.
Unfortunately, this is also very costly for the average family, making restaurant savings an extremely important subject. It usually costs anywhere from $50-$75 or more for a family of four to eat out at a decent family restaurant. Rarely, can a family of four each fast food for less than $20 or $25.
Eating at home is not only much less expensive, but it is much better for you (assuming you are at least somewhat health-conscious).
2. Try eating carryout instead of at the restaurant.
If you decide to eat out, although it will not make the waiters and waitresses happy, pick up your food and bring it home instead of eating out. This will save you sales taxes, tips, and oftentimes drinks, resulting in significant restaurant savings.
Assuming the meal alone for a family of four costs $50, the drinks cost approximately $2 a piece (assuming they are non-alcoholic), sales taxes are anywhere from 5% to 10%, and the tip is usually 15% to 20%.
So, by the time you're finished paying for drinks, sales taxes, and tips, your total meal cost is now closer to $75.
3. Look in coupon books, shopping guides, newspapers, and internet for discount coupons at restaurants.
Around here, many restaurants have coupons for significant savings at their restaurants.
A lot of times, these restaurants offer buy one get one free deals, where you get a meal free with the purchase of a a meal of equal or greater value.
Sometimes, they also may offer deals where kids get to eat free.
The restaurants want you to use these coupons, as they pay a lot of money to distribute them, so don't be afraid to use them.
4. Drink water.
If you really feel you have to eat out at a restaurant, try drinking water with your meal instead of a soft drink, milk, or an alcoholic beverage.
I don't know exactly why, but I absolutely refuse to pay upwards of $2 or more for a soft drink with my meal. It really pains me to see families do this for their kids, because often times the kids don't drink much anyway. Besides, fountain drinks at restaurants are so cheap, that nearly all of that $2 is pure profit.
In addition, water is much better for you anyway from a health standpoint.
5. Alcoholic beverages.
If you like to have an alcoholic beverage before your meal, try having a drink at home before you leave.
Certainly don't drink and then drive, but having the drink at home can significantly reduce your bar tab, resulting in tremendous restaurant savings.
6. Appetizers and desserts.
If you are the type of person that just has to have an appetizer and/or dessert, try sharing them with others and split the costs.
7. Share meals.
Nowadays, most restaurants provide extra large portions as their meals, oftentimes much more than a person should eat at one sitting.
Try sharing a meal with someone else, and splitting the cost.
I have found this to be rather effective, especially if my meal includes soup or salad, and/or we decided to order an appetizer (ideally, which is also shared with someone else).
8. Share meals with children.
I have seen an abundance of food wasted by children who are not big eaters.
Save $5 or $10 each time you eat out by letting your child share something off of your plate.
Furthermore, if you have more than one child, or the children are a little older, you can also let your children share their meal amongst themselves.
9. Don't be afraid of leftovers - ask for a box.
Again, with the portion sizes of meals served in restaurants nowadays, there is often food left over.
Don't be afraid to ask your server for a box for your leftovers.
Many times, this can serve as your lunch or dinner the following day, essentially providing you with two meals for the price of one.
Besides, sometimes foods taste better the second day, after all the spices and seasonings have had a chance to mix.
10. Have your kids pack their lunch at school.
Although most schools provide lunch (and sometimes breakfast) for the children at a fairly reasonable cost, it is still more expensive than if they pack their lunch.
The savings add up, and can be fairly significant over a month's time.
11. Pack your own lunch at work, including your drinks and snacks.
This can be one of the most significant areas of restaurant savings.
No matter how hard you try, you usually wind up spending at least $7 or $8 dollars in lunch out everyday, even if you eat at fast food restaurants.
This doesn't include your morning and afternoon "snack breaks", where you purchase a drink and a bag of chips or cookies from the company vending machine.
So by the time it's all said and done, you've spent $11 or $12 or more for food each day while you're at work.
Pack your lunch, and also pack your morning and afternoon snacks, including drinks, and you'll save a significant amount of money.
Overall, by implementing some or all of the above mentioned suggestions, your total restaurant savings should be quite significant.
To Your Success...