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Eating Out While Saving

Eating out can become expensive, even if you stick with restaurant chains, pubs and take-away. If you pay for restaurant meals with a credit card, you may end up paying even more for each meal because of the interest involved. Many families trim their budgets by cutting down on restaurant meals; however, you needn't give up eating out altogether. By planning your outings in advance and taking advantage of discounts and deals, you can lower your restaurant bills considerably and still enjoy life on a budget.

Saving restaurant meals for special occasions and treats will help you save money without giving up the pleasures of dining out altogether. If you eat out simply for convenience rather than because you enjoy the experience, you may be spending a lot of unnecessary cash without experiencing the benefits. Consider taking a cookery course at an adult education institution to extend your culinary skills, or collecting recipes from books and magazines at the library. You'll trim your budget and enjoy fine dining even more when you do most of your cooking at home.

Eating Out on a Budget

Saving money while eating out is often a matter of finding the most affordable places to dine. You needn't eat at a gourmet restaurant to enjoy delicious food. Local pubs and caffs offer economical sandwiches, salads and desserts that will tempt your palate without stretching your budget. Small family restaurants can be cheaper, in some cases, than the major chains. Explore the dining options in your local area to find the most affordable choices for the nights when you simply don't feel like cooking.

You can save money when eating out by sharing a course with your dining partner. Share an appetizer, an entree or a dessert to cut your costs, and avoid ordering expensive beverages. If you eat only half of your entree, you can save money by taking the rest home for the next day's lunch. You'll also save calories, sodium and fat by splitting a large restaurant meal into two meals.

If you have a family, look for restaurants in your area that offer free meals for kids on certain nights of the week. Alternatively, you can save money when dining with children by buying one meal for two of your little ones to share. Small children often can't finish the portions served at restaurants, so you may cut your costs by ordering a single dish.

Restaurant Discounts and Vouchers

Discounts, vouchers and dining clubs are available for "foodies" who wouldn't dream of giving up eating out. Discount cards can offer valuable deals, like two meals for the price of one, in exchange for an annual fee. However, these discounted arrangements often have restrictions, such as limiting the discount to weeknights. In order to be truly valuable, a discounted card must provide a savings on restaurants where you're actually likely to eat. In addition, you must eat out fairly regularly to make these offers worthwhile.

Vouchers and discount deals are available in newspapers, local magazines or online. When using online vouchers, it pays to verify that the restaurant will honour them by phoning ahead and booking your reservation in advance. Bear in mind that many vouchers have certain restrictions, such as limiting your dining options to certain nights of the week or to certain menu items.

With a bit of groundwork on your discount options, you needn't give up eating out while saving. Explore a number of establishments in your community to find economical deals. When you plan for the expense of eating out, you and your family can enjoy a delicious, relaxing meal without stretching your budget.