Sunday, March 25, 2012

Eating Out on the Cheap(er)

We live in one of the best food cities in the South, and going out for dinner can be an absolutely incredible experience.  Having a love for food that someone else prepared AND being on a budget is a real challenge, but one that I take very seriously...

1.  Use Groupon or Living Social.  Your money typically goes twice as far.  Today after church, we went to Mellow Mushroom and spent a $20 Groupon, which I only paid $10 for (plus I got cash back through Ebates...PLUS a $10 gift card when you join).  We spend almost half of our food budget on Daily Deals each month, which literally doubles our eating out budget--and also allows us to try lots of new places.

Love love love frozen yogurt spots.
We are waiting for a special occasion to use up our Yobe Groupon!

2.  Order water.  Duh.  Think about it, even if it just two of you, two sodas will cost $5, plus our ridiculous tax rate of 10% or 11% (I've lost track) and a 20% tip, that's more than $6!  You could buy 6 two liters for that price!  If you're having beer, wine, or whatever else, the money adds up exponentially faster.  Ben enjoys something other than water, but I indulge him by buying him drinks at Costco or with coupons, and he can have them at home for MUCH less.

3.  Skip the appetizer and/or dessert.  Same deal.  Eat early on date night so you aren't famished by the time you are seated, and will be less tempted to get dessert.  Stop by the supermarket on the way home and grab a half-gallon of the most expensive ice cream you can find.  It will last you ten times longer than a restaurant dessert, and probably has ten times fewer calories ;)

4. is another great way to save, although it is a bit more confusing than Groupon or Living Social.  Basically, you are paying for a coupon to apply towards your purchase, and there is usually a minimum purchase amount.  A benefit over the daily deal sites is that there are usually A LOT of restaurants to choose from, rather than just one for the day.  To get discounts on your purchase, remember to go through Ebates!  We love to use these when we go out of town.  

5.  For fast food diners, one of our favorite tricks is to value-size one of the combos, and then order the other sandwich a la carte, with a water.  Split the fries and the drink, and go home with less calories and a few more dollars in your pocket.

Haters gonna hate.  One of my favorite foods in the entire world=McDouble.
We had them at our wedding.

6.  Go during happy hour.  Lots of specials--and no coupons required!

7.  Check out unconventional places.  One of my favorite spots to eat is IKEA!  Cheap.  Yummy.  Probably not quality food, but still fun to have an excuse to walk through the showroom=destination $3.99 Swedish Meatballs!

Ben on a date at Ikea.  Not his favorite spot but he patronizes me.

Cutting unnecessary costs when dining out requires a little bit of legwork, but it is worth it in the end.  Saving money and going to restaurants that offer specials or promotions allow you to splurge on special places for special occasions.  Whatever you do, don't cut costs by slimming down the tip.  Waitstaff works hard--take care of them!

Butcher & Bee, a fancy sandwich shop that opened this year in Charleston, is one of my favorite lunch splurges.
It doesn't happen often, but when it does,  I rejoice.

1 comment:

  1. fresh berry is my absolute favortie dessert spot evah. dark chocolate with raspberries and white chocolate chips? yes please. ok, how have i never heard of butcher and bee?? must remedy that.