When finances are tight, cutting back on non-essential expenditure, such as eating out, is one of the first things that people do to save money. But eliminating all the pleasures from your daily life can actually have an adverse effect on your emotional well being and make you feel donwright miserable, so it’s important to retain some ‘treats’. With this in mind, here are a number of ways that you can save money at restaurants, meaning that you can still enjoy a meal out with family and friends without busting your budget.
Coupons and Vouchers
Many restaurants offer coupons or vouchers that will give you discounts of your meal. Check your local newspaper regularly for cut out coupons and vouchers. It’s not uncommon these days to find excellent offers, including coupons that will entitle the bearer to a free main course for every full price one purchased or discounts of up to 40% on the total cost of your bill (although this generally does not include drinks). The Internet is also a great place to find deals. By signing up to your favourite restaurants’ websites you will be emailed details of their latest offers. Then all you have to do is print out the coupon and present it with your bill.
Early Bird Specials
Also known as ‘pre-theatre’ specials in the UK, these are perfect if you like to eat early. These deals are offered outside of peak dining hours, usually between the hours of 5 and 7pm. You may have the choice of the full menu, or a limited selection of dishes, at a reduced price. Typically, diners taking advantage of early bird specials have to vacate their table by a specific time.
All you can eat
All you can eat buffets tend to be favoured by restaurant chains, rather than independent establishments. The concept is simple: you pay a set price and you eat all you can in a single meal. Pizza and Chinese are two cuisines that have embraced the all you can eat concept.
Many eateries today offer a ‘Daily Special’ whereby they will promote a specific dish on a given day, at a reduced cost. Of course this does limit your options somewhat, as to get a reduced meal you have to want to eat what’s on offer that day, but as these offers tend to be on the more expensive menu items, it can be a good way to try a dish that you perhaps wouldn’t normally choose because of the cost.
Set menu’s are a great way to get two, or even three, courses for a specific amount of money. You will generally be presented with two or three choices for each course, making it a good deal if you are feeling particularly hungry. If you are not a big eater a set-menu may not be the best option, however, as it may work out less expensive to just order a main course rather than paying for three courses that you are not going to eat.
So, it is perfectly possible to be able to eat out without paying full price for a meal, whatever your preference and budget. As with everything, however, make sure you do your research beforehand to make sure that you really are getting a good deal.