1/29/2013 10:15 PM ET|
Dine out without breaking the bank
The average American spends thousands a year dining out. Luckily, saving your budget doesn't have to mean kicking the restaurant habit.
Eating in restaurants can be expensive. It's estimated that each American spends an average of $2,620 a year eating out. Roughly 93% of consumers enjoy eating out, and the restaurant industry takes in a 47% share of all food-dollar expenditures. But you don't have to spend a fortune at restaurants this year. Try these tips to help you save money while dining out.
Choose the right time of day
If you are looking to try out the newest restaurant in town, try going for lunch instead of dinner. Or try heading there at happy hour. Dining during off-peak hours can save you money while still allowing you to try new dishes. Not only do some restaurants offer buy-one-get-one-free deals on beverages during happy hour, they also typically have specials on food. There are even apps for your mobile device, such as Savored, that advertise the discounts some restaurants offer during off-peak hours.
Look for deals
Many restaurants offer promotions through various deal-of-the-day websites. Groupon, for example, offers vouchers that can save you 50% to 90% off your meal. The trick with Groupon is making sure you use the deal before it expires. Also, if your chosen restaurant has more than one location in your city, make sure the deal you buy is valid at the location you want to visit.
There's also restaurants.com, which offers discounted gift certificates. Such gift certificates are good at a range of restaurants, though you typically may use only one certificate per restaurant per month.
If you have a smartphone, you can use social networking apps like Yelp and Foursquare to "check in" at locations. Both allow you to search for deals nearby, which may influence your dining decisions. And as an added bonus, many restaurants offer discounts to those who check in. Just mention it to your server.
If you're a frequent restaurant-goer, OpenTable is another option. OpenTable allows you to accumulate points for making (and keeping, of course) reservations through its website. Once you have accumulated 2,000 points, you are able to claim a $20 gift voucher for its network of restaurants. While most reservations earn around 100 points, you can search for some that are worth 1,000 points.
Bring your own bottle
Wine and other alcoholic beverages are often marked up as much as two to three times their wholesale value, meaning the restaurant is making a pretty penny on your $11 glass of pinot noir. Surprisingly, many restaurants mark up their cheapest bottles of wine the most. One method for saving on wine is by calling ahead to see if you can bring your own bottle. Some restaurants will allow you to do this, but they may charge a corkage fee. By researching the corkage fee, which can be as much as $20 per bottle, you can price out how much you'll spend on a bottle of wine.
Share a plate
Portions at restaurants tend to be a lot larger than anything you would consume at home. Many people find ordering a meal overwhelming because they want both an appetizer and a main course. If you're out with friends, opt for sharing both. That way you can try both items without having too much food, plus you get to share the costs when the bill arrives.
The bottom line
Eating in restaurants can be costly, but if you pay attention to the small ways you can trim your bill, the cost becomes more manageable. By sharing food, scouring websites and paying attention to the time of day you go out to eat, you may be able to cut your bill by as much as half.
More from Investopedia:
MORE ON MSN MONEY
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
I agree with the soda. I drink diet and it is always terrible and never made correctly. We actually don't eat out as often as we used to, we are finding that the quality and quantity of the food is not what it used to be. When we do eat out we also seem to go to familiar restaurants where we like the food and the service.
My cousin goes to college with a kid from NY who goes out to breakfast, lunch and
dinner and goes out the back door without paying.I asked what his major is and
the answer was "BANKING".Enough said.
It comes to $520.00 or 10 bucks a week at best. We find no joy in eating out because it's too expensive and my wife cooks better that 95% of the chefs (cooks???) at the local restaurants do.
Cut coupons. Go to happy hour. Brink your own bottle. Ask her to go "Dutch" and when the bill comes, fake a heart attack! Works everytime!
"It's estimated that each American spends an average of $2,620 a year eating out."
What does this statistic represent? Does it include fast food joints and convenience store coffee and donuts? Who conducted the surveys and what socio-economic groups were measures?
Considering that U.S. government statistics show that 16 percent of the populations lives in poverty, I hardly think you can call these spending habits as representative of the "average" American except in a very biased and skewed way.
This article is nonsense based on nonsense, and is written strictly to promote someone's "app".
My kids love happy hour and we always remember to bring our own bottle.......Groupon? Really?....thanks for the commercial....next time try researching and writting an article.
If you have to do anything on this list , you should not be going out to eat....
But this is the standard for Canadians...
Give it a rest - I am tired of reading articles on eating out and being cheap. If you have to use any of these ideas-eat at home. One other item missing here is be sure to call attention to your charitable donations even though you work for an insurance company and while you have 2 jobs - try your hardest to get the server fired before the bill is delivered to your table. If that does not work - beg for the restaurant to comp your food purchase - but don't beg until you have eaten all or most of the portion you were served. A better idea - leave eating out to people who really enjoy eating out, who tip and who are able to afford it w/ out lieing, couponing, grouponing, and cheating. Cheap people- eat at home.
how do dine out when your broke from obama's middle class tax hike and obamacare and high energy food fuel and food prices and the
rest of his big nanny state socialist govt agenda? you don't eat out! i'm sure all his obamanites on the gravy train and the illegals can
afford to eat out on hard working middle class!
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Preteens, rejoice. The grown-ups have a compelling reason to consider getting you a tablet this year. Adults, listen up.