Eating Out on a Budget

Dinner Fork

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Eating out can be a wonderful and delicious experience for a family. It can also be a costly one. The convenience and expertise that comes with a meal away from home also comes with a relatively hefty price tag. Most families know that they have to eat out on a budget, but aren’t really sure where to start – other than simply eating at cheaper restaurants.


That’s not necessarily a good solution, of course; cheaper usually means fast food, which usually means much less healthy food, too.


Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help your family save a little bit of money while still enjoying a pleasant and healthy dining experience:


  • Know where the good prices are. Not every inexpensive restaurant is unhealthy, and they don’t all have terrible food either. Check to see if there is a local guide to eating out on a budget, such as this list of budget restaurants in New York.

  • Know what to order. In many restaurants, the appetizers are an opportunity for the chef to experiment a bit. What that means is you’re getting high-quality food at a lower cost than an entrée. Conversely, entrée salads have a huge markup. If you’re going to order a salad, consider sticking with the side salad instead of a premium.

  • Watch what you drink. A bottle of wine will cost you about three times as much in the restaurant as it would in the store. Even a fountain drink can cost you several dollars. For a family of five, drinking water can cut down your dinner bill by $10 or more, depending on where you’re eating.

  • Split an entrée. The most expensive dish on the menu probably has the smallest markup. Consider splitting an entrée, and ordering an appetizer to go with it on date night.

  • Learn to eat leftovers. If you can stretch one meal into two, you’ve cut the price of the meal significantly. Avoid the temptation to leave the leftovers sitting, however; make sure you finish them off within a day or two.


So, what kinds of things does your family do to reduce your budget for eating out?




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