By Debra Jacobson
If you're anything like most people, you probably enjoy eating out. Who doesn't like to eat out? Someone else makes your food and oftentimes it's better than the stuff you make at home! The downside however is that eating out costs a lot more than cooking for yourself at home. But enjoying a meal out of the house doesn't have to break your bank. Here are some tips to follow to help cut down on restaurant expenses without having to give up one of your favorite pastimes.
Go to restaurants.com and look for restaurants in your area that participate in their $25 Gift Certificate program. Restaurants.com offers $25 off a bill of $35 or more for many of your local favorite eateries. They charge $10 to acquire one of these coupons but the coupons are often on sale for 70% or 80% off. This means you pay $2 or $3 dollars to get $25 knocked off your bill of $35 or more. A nice dinner for two with an appetizer usually runs around $35 at most restaurants. With restaurants.com, that price goes down to around $10-$15.
Remember though to tip your server based on the total bill, not the post-coupon bill.
Portions in the American diet are huge. You can literally cut your dining expenses in half by learning to eat a little less and share an entréwith your date or friend. Not only does this save a ton of money, but it also helps you cut out excessive calories from your diet. Almost every entréin almost every American restaurant is more food than anyone should eat it one sitting. Share your entréor box half of it up for a future leftovers before even taking your first bite. This will do wonders for your wallet and waistline!
Scour for Specials
Most restaurants usually offer a really great special at least one night per week. If you have a Blackberry or an iPhone or any other cellular device capable of saving text documents, start keeping track of restaurant specials in your area. Categorize them by day of the week. For example, you might notice that Richie's has by one entréget another half off on Mondays. So file that below Monday. Next time you're going out to eat on a Monday, you can consult your handy file and figure out where the discounted offerings can be found.
Some higher-end restaurants are not very high-end at all early in the evening. Try heading to dinner a little early to get the early bird or happy hour special. You can find entrees or appetizers for $10 that become $25 a mere hour later. The exact same thing for less than half the price it will be by the time you finish eating it! Happy hour specials are another great thing to record in a document on your phone.