How to Keep Your Stomach and Wallet Full When Eating Out

Eating out is one of the top areas people overspend. Today, I am going to share some strategies with you that will not only allow you to eat out but will help you avoid buyer’s remorse. 

First, understand that eating out is a luxury. It’s a privilege, not a right. In fact, if you have fallen into a habit of eating out for convenience, than you may want to reevaluate your meal planning process. 

Hey, I enjoy a good steak too but I am not willing to let it derail me from accomplishing my financial goals. 

Here’s a handful of ways to make the most of eating out:

Utilize Discounted Gift Cards

You can find these at a wholesale club or online with carriers like Raise or GiftCardZen. 

By planning in advance, you can order the gift cards and have them in hand when it’s time to go out.

Go On Kids Eat Free Night

Make the most of your outing by hitting up some of your favorite restaurants on “Kids Eat Free” nights. 

eating out

Doing so will save you at least $10, not to mention tax and tip.

Have a Snack First

Why pay $9 for an appetizer you really don’t need?! 

Instead, focus on the main event. Have a light snack before your excursion and enjoy the main course. 

Drink Only Water

One way, we have discovered, to make the most of our eating out experiences is to only drink water.

Soft drinks and alcohol are way overpriced and the carbonation only fills your stomach faster, which will fill you up and may result in wasted food and extra dollars spent.

Instead, order water with a lemon or lime wedge. This flavors your water, provides you a healthier option and keeps your bill lower. Plus, you’ll still be hungry enough to eat the meal you ordered but not so hungry you could eat a horse. 

eating out

Eat the Free Stuff

Some restaurants provide chips, bread and butter or even some cool dipping sauces for free. 

Don’t skip these options, especially if you enjoy them. You can partake and do so guilt free, knowing they don’t come with a cost tacked on to your bill. 

Save Half for Later

By partaking in the free stuff, you can save half of what you ordered for later. It may provide you lunch for the next day or even an additional meal at home. 

Along the same lines, consider sharing a meal with your significant other. Most American restaurants provide portions that are way too big. Why not share and save yourself in the end?! This can be a great strategy to save on your bill but also on your waistline. 

Sharing also allows you to try new things without paying the full price of an individual meal. 

Make an Appetizer a Meal

One of the best ways to save is by ordering an appetizer in place of an entree. Not only are they typically cheaper, there are options like sampler platters that allow you to try several types of food without overcommitting to just one. 

A strategy we have employed is the sampler at TGIFs after church on Sundays. Not only was it something we could share, but it was during happy hour and cost 50% less. 

Skip the Extras

That’s right. Skip the small stuff. Do you really need that loaded potato? Do you really need those mushrooms added to the top of your steak??

eating out

Decisions like this can save a few dollars per meal. Remember, every dollar spent is another dollar gone as well as adding to the cost of tax and tip.

Skip Dessert

Lastly, skip dessert. Or, at least share it. Most desserts are either overpriced or over-portioned. Your wallet and your stomach will thank you. 

If you must have a dessert, walk over to the local ice cream parlor and order a kids’ sized cone.

In the end, it is important to prioritize the experience over the price point. Remember, eating out is a luxury, not a privilege. Doing so will help you find more money to fund your dreams. 

I hope you found this information helpful. Also, feel free to join my FREE Facebook community, The “Strong Together Money Community.” Post a picture of your eating out experience and glean from other’s tips on how to save on money eating out.

Question: Do you spend too much money eating out? Do you need help developing or refining your eating out budget? Share your unique insights in the comments below.

Need help? Contact me today. Be sure to also check out my free e-book to help you on your journey to financial wellness.