If you think you can’t afford to dine out, then these seven easy tips will show you how you totally can!
You’ve probably heard the old adage there’s no such thing as a free meal
and in the majority of cases this is true. However, there is such a thing as a cheap or even a greatly reduced in price meal, even if you are dining out. Catering for yourself from home is always going to be cheaper then eating out and even though I love to cook, sometimes it’s just nice to have someone do the culinary stuff for you. Unfortunately in today’s economic climate, most of us are having to tighten our purse strings. (Or firmly keep our wallets closed.) And deciding that the money spent on eating out, would be better saved for something else.
Nevertheless, with some clever ordering, an observant eye and a prepared approach, dining out need not be as expensive as you would initially imagine it to be. By following some of the following 7 ways to save money when dining out, I will share with you my secrets to paying less for your food at restaurants.
1. Two first courses are cheaper then a first and a main.
Some of the first positions of my early years of employment, were in the catering industry. Washing dishes, waitressing, making deserts and busing. I worked in a number of different dining establishments, including TGI Friday’s and small family run businesses. I have experienced both fast food and high brow. And in every establishment, without exception, the cheapest main course was never cheaper then the most expensive starter.
There is also a common misconception that mains are always larger then starters, I can tell you first hand that this is not true. Some starters are just as well proportioned as some mains. I guarantee that if you ask your waiter or waitress about this, they will happily inform you what meals on the menu are the best value for money. After all they know that a happy customer that knows he has saved money on his meal, will probably leave a better tip for them later.
2. Drink at home before you go out.
Did you know that on average around 50% of a food bill is attributed to the drinks? Especially alcoholic drinks, which may cost as much as 70% more then you would pay for its equivalent measure in the supermarket. This is due to owners having to cover their licence fee, staff and premises, which all adds up.
If you are wanting to drink hot drinks, a pot of tea works out cheaper then coffee.
3. Hold the ice.
When I worked for TGI Fridays, they had a free refill policy on soft drinks. At first I thought this was an awesome idea and wondered why more places didn’t do it. However my opinion soon changed when I got told by management that I was giving them too much soda. Being an impertinent being with a mouth that often engages before my brain, I said
‘What? But that’s what they ordered. How can I possibly be giving them too much drink?’
The manager then gave me a look of utter disdain similar to the way a teacher looks at the classes naughtiest child, and said.
‘Because you are suppose to fill the glass to the brim with ice first, then add the soda.’
Well that told me didn’t it. It also explained how they could afford to provide free refills and still remain in profit.
Similarly places like McDonald’s and burger king, (to name just a couple) do the same sort of thing. Just by asking them to hold the ice, you will be getting considerably more drink for your dollar. Without it getting progressively more watery and ultimately less flavourful.
4. Fill up on bread.
Although this restaurant tradition is one in decline, some establishments do still offer free bread. If you find a restaurant that does this, it works out cheaper and is just as filling to order a soup starter and use the bread as an accompaniment to help fill you up. A soup-er way to eat out super cheap.
5. Don’t pay for water.
Since water became all posh and filtered. And imported from exotic volcanoes, it can now cost as much as a glass of wine. (I kid you not). So if you are ordering water because you are driving, or because you are trying to be healthy then ask for tap water, it’s free.
6. Use vouchers.
Food companies give away discount vouchers all the time and they can afford to do this because, most people don’t use them. They get thrown out with the recycling or lost in the bottom of a bag all screwed up, or left so long they are no longer valid. Don’t be one of those people be the one that does use it and you will be doing yourself a huge service, by saving yourself some money. Plus don’t feel like a cheapskate for doing it, be proud to be smart enough to take the opportunity to save.
7. Always ask.
There will always be some kind of special offer on, even at the classiest of establishments and it always pays to ask your waiter or waitress what the days specials are. Another cool little tip is to ask whats not selling so well and maybe served to you at a reduced rate, because it needs to be sold before it gets thrown out.
Remember your waiter or waitress will do their very best to accommodate you, because they want to receive a good tip. Trust me I know, I used to be one.