Many more of us are eating out lately. This is partly to do with there being more restaurants popping up along our high streets, pubs serving food as well as drinks and the fact that many of us are looking or more convenient ways to eat as we find less time for cooking. However, eating out can be expensive, but there are ways that you can keep the costs down and still enjoy the benefits of eating out.
Where to Eat?
Firstly, think about the place that you are going to eat. It is easy these days to search online in advance, look at local restaurants, study their menus and things like that. Many will have prices on their websites and this will allow you to compare them based on how much they will cost, which can be really helpful. This will allow you to pick the cheapest place to eat.
You may not like the idea of picking the cheapest place though. It might be that you are keen on their food, they are too far away or you want a bit of luxury or feel you will get better quality if you pay more. Therefore you will need to think about whether there are other ways that you can reduce the cost rather than eating at a cheaper place.
How Often to Eat Out?
Of course, you could eat out less often or you could see whether having a take away would be cheaper, if you are happy with eating take away food. Another way is to look at the actual food and see whether you can buy less. It might be that you could cut out a pudding, for example. Puddings can be really expensive and they are often just a frozen item which is microwaved or defrosted and cut up with a blob of ice cream. They are often the thing that attracts the biggest mark up in the restaurant and are therefore overpriced. If you like puddings, then you could find that there are far cheaper ones available in your local supermarket which needs no preparation. You could consider going home and having that when you get there rather than paying too much for one while out.
Another thing to consider is sharing food. For example, if you want side dishes for a meal, perhaps get them between you rather than one each. There is often more than you can eat anyway and so by sharing you will waste less and pay less. You may be allowed to pick from the children’s menu, for example which will be cheaper and if you have a small appetite this could suit you a lot better. Another option could be to have a starter and a side, which might be cheaper than a main, but this will vary depending on the restaurant you are at and the choices you make. You will also find that some dishes are just cheaper than others. For example, the vegetarian dishes tend to be cheaper as do the pastas compared with steak. It is therefore worth studying the prices on the menu and seeing which dishes you think you will enjoy and whether there are cheaper options among those that you are looking at.
Drinks are another thing which are really expensive when eating out. Think about whether you think that they are really worth what you are paying. Alcohol tends to be dearer in restaurants than pubs and bars, at least in some cases, so it could be better to have a drink elsewhere before you eat or even have one at home. Coffees are also really expensive and so it could be better to have one at home when you get back, rather than in a restaurant. If you like a latte or cappuccino then these can be hardtop replicate at home unless you have a coffee machine, but if you have an Americano then this can be easy to make at home to a similar quality. If you drink tea, then you can easily make it at home and have a much cheaper cup. If you like water with your meal, ask for a jug of tap water as they do not charge for this and if you have bottled it will be so much more expensive as they will have premium bands so they can mark up the price even more.