Look for Kid’s Night Deals - Many families are going back to the more traditional one income situation, so Kid’s Night deals are critical to being able to take the kids for an evening out. Most restaurants have a special kid’s night where kids under a certain age (usually 12) eat free or at a reduced cost. Look for the places near you and make a list on your calendar so you know which restaurants have deals on any given night.
Share entrees - Entrees are growing (along with our waistlines) and so are the cheques at the end of the night. To decrease all of the above, share an entre with a friend or family member. This will ensure both of you receive your fill, pay less, and walk out a little lighter than you might have if you had tried to eat the entire portion.
Plan your budget - Many people spend too much money on eating out because they eat out too frequently and don’t plan it into their week. Pick a specific night every other week or so to go out but decide in advance which restaurant you want to go to. Pick up a menu in advance of that night to help you plan how much you will spend as well as choosing your food in advance!
Appetizers and Desserts – These were designed with one idea in mind, to get you to order more food than you would ever eat if you cooked it, thus spending more money than you may have planned. In advance of your restaurant visit, determine whether or not you are going to order the appetizer as your meal (provided it is large enough) along with a small salad, or not at all. In doing so, you will save money and room in your stomach for after-dinner coffee. Having coffee at the end of the meal will also help you avoid the $7 desserts with the $2 portions. You will be full and won’t want dessert, thus saving you even more money and inches to the waistline.
Sides - Many restaurants now offer sides as ala carte items. Choosing 2 or 3 sides, such as a salad, a baked potato, or a side of steamed veggies will help you choose less expensive and potentially more healthy options.
Eating out is fun and it should remain that way. It can be done in such a way that everyone’s budget should be able to afford it on a regular, planned basis.