Dining Out on a Budget

eatingoutonabudget

No matter how broke we were, Friday was always “dining out” night when I was a kid. Somehow, my parents were able to pull this off every week. We’d order a pizza, go to McDonalds, or to an affordable family restaurant. I would always get the cheeseburger and fries off of the children’s menu.

It was our splurge for the week. As much as we enjoyed my mom’s cooking, dinner out was a special occasion. (Not to mention a well deserved break for our mom.)

It’s not that difficult to find a decent restaurant to visit at least once or twice a month to give you that feeling of treating yourself. We all deserve that, no matter what our bank account looks like.

Here are a few tips…

  • Ask around. Most people love to share where they go for an affordable tasty dinner.
  • Check out the appetizer menu. Despite what anyone says, onion rings can be an entire meal.
  • Find a place that doesn’t upcharge you for salad, soup, bread and side dishes.
  • Ask for water to save extra money.
  • If you’re old enough, order something from the senior menu. Sadly, I have a few more years before I can do this. Boo.
  • Tip nicely and be amazed when your regular waitress doesn’t charge you for coffee and throws in an extra roll. (This actually happened.)

And remember, always use a napkin and excuse yourself when you belch.

Do you have any tips on dining out on a budget? Let us know in the comments!

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20 thoughts on “Dining Out on a Budget

  1. Ah, yes, we know about that stuff. Cola and tea are unbelievably overpriced. Give a drop of syrup, charge at least two dollars for it. We get water, or we share a drink (we figure we exchange germs if we like kiss each other so whatever). You can get one burger, one combo, share fries and drink. Make your children drink water cause mean. Yay!

    Love your new banner, WT.

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  2. I generally don’t like water but I will totally go for the beverages that offer free refills. I drink enough to justify that. I’m also fond of using coupons, loyalty cards, ordering the cheaper “daily special” meals, splitting a dinner that I know is going to be huge with someone, skipping the appetizer completely in favor of maybe leaving myself room for a dessert (which seldom happens). I also really like the places that let you do the whole dinner for 2 for $20.

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  3. Soda is where most restaurants make their money…. but I gotta have it because fountain soda is like crack. I always eat in rather than go through the drive thru so I can get free refills. You can get a smaller cup and fill it up all you want if you dine in…

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  4. Everyone orders one thing – one onion rings, one big chips – sorry French Fries – one garlic bread, one steak. Share amongst four. In the UK here, the portions are humungous! Two people could share one meal. But there’s only one plate. Havent had the courage to take my own paper plate! Trouble is, doing all that, changes the ambience of the meal – you cant feel opulant sharing out like that. We had five kids and no money for eating out. We used to all go to the supermarket and buy the ingredients to our personal choice, then assemble at home and eat by candlelight! Sometimes everyone had a different meal. It was fun. We did have to wash our own plates though.

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  5. I Yelp any restaurant I haven’t been to. That way I get the prices and plenty of reviews. It not only helps me know if it’s in my budget, I can view their healthier dishes. When I walk in the door I usually know exactly what I plan to eat.

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  6. My parents didn’t believe in ‘fast food’ like Mickey D’s. So I never went until I was an adult. We did go out to eat sometimes as a family, (2 adults and 4 kids). My parents saved up and we went to nice places for holidays like Easter and New Years. Then we could splurge.
    Now, the husband hates going out to eat so we never do. We do order in though…sometimes. We know which places are worth the money. Our favorite is a Chinese place that gives huge servings. We eat for 3 days from them! 🙂

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  7. When I go out now, I always end up bringing half home for a second meal. The portions are usually quite large. I took my children out for breakfast every Sunday after church, just us and we had a fun time. They learned very early that eating out was a privilege and if they wanted to keep going out, they had to behave. Breakfast is the least expensive meal to eat out and if it comes with pancakes or toast, it can go home with me for later. My folks would occasionally take the 4 of us kids out while on a Sunday drive but only in Germany where they could better afford a meal out. You have to eat somewhere but after years of waiting tables to feed my kids, I always leave a generous tip if the service has been reasonably good. I also look for restaurants that are not part of a chain. The food is usually better and they try harder. Sometimes, it’s the ugly places that surprise you.

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    • I agree with you..one of my favorite places is a dark and dank steakhouse that has great food. And I used to wait tables myself, so I know what you mean..a good tip is always appreciated.
      I’ll bring home food sometimes, it just depends on how hungry I am. LOL

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