Our family loves food. And we love to eat out. We also really try to stay on budget. So how do we make all these things work?
In this article I’ll talk about some money saving tips that we’ve learned over the years.
First let’s look at some stats: according to the Buearu of Labor Statistics, in 2015 Americans spent around $3,000 annually on eating at restaurants.
Having 5 kids makes it difficult to cook dinner all the time. I try to plan meals for our family at home as much as possible, but honestly, sometimes I just need a night off from home cooked food.
I actually plan to have a night per week when we get pizza or other take out that we love. We love to eat out, and grab food to take home.
These take out nights really help to save my sanity!
I am all for eating out from time to time and saving money while doing it!
How to Eat out with a family and save money on the bill
1. Share Entrees
This is our first and favorite trick to use when going out to eat. In fact, we don’t really think about it anymore, it’s like second nature.
This one works especially well if you have small kids that won’t generally finish their meal anyway.
Another huge benefit of this trick is that you won’t end up over eating since most restaurant portion sizes are too large anyway.
With our family of 7, accounting for each person having their own meal and a couple of non water drinks, we could easily spend close to $70 after tax and tip!
But with my husband and I sharing a meal the bill could be cut down by $12-$15. If the whole family shared meals we could pretty easily cut the bill in half to around $35!
Potential Savings: $35 or more
2. Order your meal with a to-go box
If you don’t love the idea of sharing a meal with someone else, or if your kids can’t agree on what to get, this is a different trick you can use to save money eating out.
Order your food and ask for half of it to be boxed up for you, or you can do this yourself at the table. I personally like the waiter to box it before he brings it to the table so that I don’t even see the food!
Like the tip above, this helps not only with portion sizes, but also saves money you would spend on groceries by providing a meal for the next day.
Potential Savings: $35 or so on groceries for the week
3. Drink Water
Pass on the pop/soda and instead opt for water with lemon or lime for flavor! Not only is this healthier for you but since drinks can easily cost $2.50 a piece, this trick will save you up to $17-$20 if you have a large family!
Potential Savings: $17-$20
4. Opt for alcohol at home
If you like to have a glass of wine with dinner, or a cocktail with appetizers, then you may be spending quite a bit more money than you need to.
Ordering alcoholic drinks at a restaurant can cost you anywhere from 70%-80% more per serving than what the restaurant actually pays for it!
Skip the drinks with dinner and instead opt for drinks at home instead at a MUCH lower cost.
Potential Savings: Easily $10-$12 or more if you generally order multiple drinks!
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5. Skip The appetizer
This one has always been a bit of a no brainer for us. It seems that whenever we splurge and get an appetizer before our meal, most people in our family are not even hungry when the food comes!
Not only will this save you money, but like most of the other tips above, this will save your waistline as well!
Potential Savings: $8-$14
6. eat appetizers for dinner
Alternatively, if you really really like the appetizer options, you could always consider ordering a couple of appetizers for the family to share and skip the entrees!
7. Skip Dessert
This one is a little bit of a bummer, but just like the alcohol, for the price of that slice of cheesecake you could run to the grocery store and buy half a cake!
The price of dessert for the whole family is…$$$$$$ yikes!
This trick will save your waistline as well as your money.
Potential Savings: $20-$40
8. Look for Deals
Check into what deals local restaurants have that you can take advantage of.
Potential deals include: birthday discounts, kids eat free deals, and happy hour deals.
You may even find more deals if you plan to eat out on a Monday or a Tuesday rather than later in the week since these times are generally slower for the restaurant business.
9. Eliminate the Tip
This isn’t as bad as it sounds. What I mean is, go to a place that doesn’t require tipping. Any fast food restaurant will work, or for higher end non tipping places try Panera or Chipotle.
Potential Savings: At least 20% of the bill
10. Stick to your budget
This is such an important point. Often going out to eat can trigger lots of fun and relaxed emotions that can really lead to overspending.
It’s important that you go into the restaurant with a budget and leave with a bill that is under or at that budget.
Don’t have a budget yet? Find out how to make one!