We all love food. Some of us exclusively love the things that are bad for us, others genuinely love healthy food and most of us love all food. Healthy or fattening, home cooked or ordered out, it’s all good. We love cooking it, we love smelling it, we love taking pictures of it and sharing them on social media, and most of all we love sitting down with the people who mean the most to us to enjoy it.
We all know that we should cook more. It’s not only the way to ensure that we get the most nutrition for our calories while avoiding any nasty additives that could have unpleasant side effects for our health, it’s the best way to eat well on a budget. You’d be astonished what you can throw together on a limited budget. Nonetheless, there’s something wonderfully indulgent about deciding to hang up the oven mitt and take ourselves and our loved ones out for a delicious meal in a restaurant. The trouble is that eating out, even in a modestly priced establishment, is an increasingly costly prospect. In fact, the average American household spends over $3,000 a year on dining out. Eating out is a treat that shouldn’t supplant a regular healthy home-cooked meal. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that most of us in the developed world refuse to learn, at the cost of a dangerously unstable household budget. As egregious (and inaccurate) as the barbs about millennials being unable to save for a home due to their love of avocado toast may be, it’s a fact that most of us in the developed world are leaning ever heavily on eating out.
https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/business/avocado-toast-millennials.html&sa=D&ust=1521677365393000&usg=AFQjCNFnC75EQS-G7gGbPJ3QPz-REmIxogMaybe it’s because we’re working harder and for longer hours than ever before. Maybe it’s because it’s harder to get quality ingredients than it is to order fast food on the way home from work, but the fact is that we’re increasingly unable to resist the allure of eating out. If only there were some way in which we could make the decadent treat of eating out a little more affordable.
Follow these tips and you can find yourself saving a little every single time you eat out…
Meat and dairy are the most labor intensive and resource consuming foods to raise, and as such farmers need to pass those costs on to suppliers who pass their costs on to restaurants who pass them on to you. Resultantly, dishes rich in meat and dairy products are inevitably more expensive than their entirely plant-based counterparts. There was a time when vegetarian options were few and far between and the prospect of a vegan option was all but unheard of. Now, veganism is on the rise, growing by 600% in the US since 2014. Resultantly more and more restaurants have at least one vegan option which will be just as delicious as its meaty counterparts but usually with 20-30% less on the price tag. Not only will you save money you’ll be eating more healthily, facilitating weight loss and doing your bit for animal welfare and the planet, too!
Use restaurant gift cards
Gift cards are a great gift for a friend or family member’s birthday… But they’re a pretty awesome treat for yourself too! Buying yourself a gift card to spend in your favorite restaurants may seem like adding an unnecessary middleman but it can also save you big money as you’ll see by checking out Cash4Cards.com for more details. You’ll find offers on all your favorites from Dunkin Donuts to Five Guys Steak ‘n’ Shake with discounts ranging from around 7%-15.5%. All of those savings add up! If you live in the UK you can purchase a Taste Card for a flat fee of £79.99 a year for which they can enjoy either 50% off or two for one deals on over 6,000 restaurants across the country.
Be an early bird
Who says that early bird specials are just for seniors? Being an early bird can save you a small fortune. Quiet periods are anathema in the service industry, so restaurants often provide generous incentives for customers to join them outside of peak times. If you’re able to be flexible you can usually make a substantial saving. You may find a slightly more limited menu but you’ll also benefit from better prices and less busy and stressed service staff resulting in an all round nicer experience.
Be honest with yourself. Do you really need a beer or a glass of wine or even a soda with your meal? Most restaurants make the biggest profits from their beverages which is why you’ll always find a wine list full of grossly elevated prices. Even soft drinks are not immune to the hefty surcharge imposed by the majority of restaurants. Thus, you can save a hefty chunk off your bill by simply accompanying your tasty dish with water. It will ensure a nice clean palate, will keep you adequately hydrated to prevent bloating and you can drink as much as you like without it costing you a penny since most states legally require restaurants to supply free tap water to those who ask for it. If you really can’t stomach the idea of drinking water alongside your meals opt for somewhere that offers free refills.
Scour the internet for offers
Restaurants tend to have pretty high-profit margins, and the greater the margin, the greater the possibility for discounts. Get on social media and follow your favorite chains and local restaurants and sign up to their email list. This is one of the easiest ways to avail yourself of promotions that they run, and you’ll even get some special offers exclusive to you as a subscriber or follower. Signing up to loyalty schemes and surfing sites like Groupon or Wowcher can also be beneficial (though they can be a little hit or miss).
Party like it’s your birthday
Another great thing about signing up for restaurants’ loyalty programs is that they’ll reward you for your loyalty with a freebie or something heavily discounted on your birthday. Remember you only get to use this once… Or at least once per restaurant.
All-in-all there are some great ways to enjoy a night out at a good cost. What’s your best tip?