With the rising costs of, well let’s face it… everything, taking the family out for dinner has become a luxury many families have given it up. I know for my family, eating out has changed from Chilli’s or Applebee’s to McDonald’s. It is just so expensive to eat out anymore.
According to TheSimpleDollar.com, “The average American family spends $225 a month eating away from home – dinners eaten out, quick snacks grabbed, and coffees ordered and consumed on the run.”
In this article we are going to explore a few ways to save money eating out… making it possible to take the family out to eat on occasion without fear of breaking the bank.
- Eat lunch instead of dinner. Going out to eat lunch can cost considerably less than taking the family out to dinner in the evening. Another advantage to going out to lunch instead of dinner, is that you are likely less hungry than you are at dinner time so you a better chance of eating less.
- How about desert? Instead of taking the family out for a big dinner, consider going to an ice cream parlor for desert. You might even consider going to that restaurant you like so much, but just order deserts. It will be a fun change of pace and cost you much less.
- Early-bird specials. Pack up the family and head out for dinner early. If you dine before 6 p.m., in most places you can take advantage of the early-bird special. I know, when you hear “Early-bird-special”, you think of a place full of elderly people. But the early-bird-special is not just for the retirees. You’ll find these specials are an outstanding way for families to save money.
- Appetizers at home. Think about having a snack at home before you go out to eat. This will make you less hungry and hopefully you will be less inclined to order a huge meal… saving a few bucks!
- Share a meal. Pick a restaurant that will allow you to share a meal, some places will not. Order a big entree and share it between you and your spouse… you can do the same for the kids.
- Use coupons. Keep an eye out for a discount or coupon for your favorite restaurant. You can find these discounts on the internet, in the paper or local periodicals. Why pay full price on your next meal when you can get it at a discount?
- Kids eat free. This is a big one that my family takes advantage of. One place comes to mind that has special days for kids to eat free… IHOP! The kids love it, they can get breakfast for dinner and the wife and I like it because it saves us quite a bit of money.
- Fast food, dollar menu. You can save a bunch of money eating off of the dollar menu at your favorite fast food joint. Most all of the major fast food franchises offer a dollar menu. Just be careful of what you order… if you order a sandwich, fry and drink from the dollar menu, you might be able to get a similar “meal” for a little bit more but get much bigger sizes. You might be able to split a “regular” meal between two kids.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spent over $2,505 on meals away from home in 2010. Down from 2008, it was $2,698, but that’s still a lot of money.
If you can cut your dining costs by just 30 percent, you’d be $751.50 richer within a year.