Dining Out for Less

Even the most frugal individuals need to get out and have a good time now and then. Even when you’re adhering to a budget you should get out of the house and enjoy a nice, but reasonable, dining experience. In order to enjoy dining out on a budget, there are some ground rules that you should agree to before ever setting foot in the restaurant.

Be Realistic

There are restaurants designed to suit every conceivable price range. Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you’re limited to the dollar value menu at the corner Burger Shack, but you shouldn’t be driving to the most expensive place in town either. Find a reasonably priced eatery that you know you will enjoy. The definition of reasonably priced is up to you, but if the cost for the entire meal is more than a day’s pay, you’re out of the realm of reasonable.

Skip the Appetizers, Alcohol, and Desserts

When dining out on a budget, before dinner appetizers and alcoholic beverages should be avoided. The two combined can easily double the cost of the meal and even an appetizer itself can come close to the price of an entrée. Bypass both of these temptations as well as dessert and you’ll save quite a bit on the cost of dining out.

Set a Price Limit and Stick to it

Set a limit for the price you’re willing to pay for your entrée. By making a dollar amount limit before hand you’ll avoid uncomfortable deliberations at the table and the temptation to splurge will be reduced. You should have a general idea what the meal is going to cost before ever going to the restaurant and you definitely don’t want to go too far over it. If you find yourself thinking “I’ll have the prime rib” and the prime rib is over your limit, imagine yourself on a game show. “I’ll have the prime rib.” BZZZZT! “Sorry, diner, that’s the wrong answer. But to thank you for playing our game we’d like to offer you the parting gift of a lovely Combo Plate.”

“Umm… How Much is This?”

Make sure that you choose a restaurant that has the prices on the menus. When they don’t print a price they’re saying, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Also, don’t order anything that doesn’t have a price listed. “Market Price” translates in the restaurant to English dictionary as “too expensive.”

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