Tasha and I have a few tricks that we use when we go out to eat. We know that this can be a huge budget buster for many budgets. However, we love to go out to eat. Our schedule, at times, dictates eating out as well. So for those times we do go out to eat, we have a few practices we follow. Check them out!
Have you ever seen the kids menu at just about any sit down restaurant? $4-7 for a kids meal? Ridiculous. For older kids, I can understand that. However, when you have a fairly picky 5 year old, dropping $6 bucks on a hamburger only to have her pick at it can be aggravating. $4 for a bowl of Mac & Cheese? Uh….no. To combat this, we have gotten in to the habit of feeding our KPster at home before we head to the restaurant. Bowls of mac and cheese or a PB&J is much cheaper at home, rather than paying for the exact same thing at a restaurant. When we get there, she is really only interested in the crayons and games on the menu to begin with, plus no dealing with a starving child as you wait for your food! When you factor in the tip on your bill (we are 20% people) you can save a quick $10 right there. WIN-WIN!
I love Diet Pepsi. My fridge has almost always got a few cans in it and many more in the garage. Now, Tasha does most of (okay, all) the grocery shopping. When she goes, I often request DP as long as it is on sale. I don’t like to pay more than $2.50 for a case of 12. If it is anymore than that, it is too expensive in my mind. Amazing though, when I am at a restaurant? I usually have no problem paying around $2 for a drink. What’s up with that? If both Tasha and I get a drink, there is another $4-6 added to our bill, add tip, you are looking at $5-7. I am sure that doesn’t sound like much, but it can sure add up! Tasha has encouraged me to order water now at restaurants. I do, begrudgingly, but I know when I get home, I have a delicious Diet Pepsi waiting in the fridge. At roughly .25 cents a piece? I can enjoy a couple and feel no guilt at all!
With this final tip, we have a opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Tasha and I try to get away once in a while for lunch during the work week. While she may not agree, I think of these as little dates. No kids, just us together, spending some time alone. Bonus dates! What makes these little dates great for the budget though is the cheaper lunch menu’s restaurants offer. Often times, you can get the exact same meal at lunch that you would at dinner, but save $3-5 bucks an entree or $4-7 after tip. The portions may be a tad bit smaller, but it is hardly noticeable. Believe me, that is saying a lot when you are 6’4, 250 pounds and enjoy all the food!
Are any of these tips gonna save you hundreds of dollars? Not on the first trip, but, let’s do some math and show you the difference. If we went out to eat once a week and tried all these tips at once, Tasha and I could save about $28 a week. If we did that 52 times a year? We are looking at a savings of $1,456 (!!!!) in one year! Talk about making some progress on debt.
Small modifications in how you eat out can make a huge difference. You are the one that benefits. You get the same luxury of not having to cook, but you also save money and make progress on your debt snowball at the same time. That is how you win with money!