Whenever you eat out, whether flying solo in the drive-thru or treating the whole family, its easy to spend too much on food. In fact, it’s almost impossible to visit a restaurant for a reasonable price just because every meal is four times more expensive than the individual ingredients. Of course, this won’t stop people from eating out – we all love a professional cooking for us too much! However, here are some hacks that will help bring the bill down.
Skip the Appealing Specials
As much as the “get it before it’s gone” lasagna special might sound great, it’s probably better for your bank account to skip it. Most of the time, because specials are usually limited off, they tend to be a lot more expansive. Furthermore, by calling them “specials” and having the waiter present them right, customers are far more likely to order these expensive dishes, producing a significant profit.
So, when the waiter asks about specials, don’t be rude, just don’t cave! Crack out a polite “no” and carry on with your meal.
Split A Meal
Often, restaurants give customers far too much food, boosting its perceived value. However, more often than not, it just means that food ends up in the trash! Whether its an entrée, appetizer, or dessert, it’s easy to split it between family members or friends.
Of course, it’s probably better to skip the dessert altogether. Like the specials, desserts are one of the areas where restaurants make the most profit. In the end, for what you spend on just one slice of cake, you could probably make a full one yourself. So, next time, skip the dessert menu and just pick up a pint of ice cream on the way home!
Apps Are Key
Speaking of appetizers, they’re also the key to saving money while dining alone or in a smaller group! As stated, the portions at restaurants are often far too large. However, as a byproduct, an appetizer can often fill you up! And, of course, they’ll cost less than a full entree.
Similarly, appetizers are great if there are only two dinners! Three appetizers will more than fill a couple up and cost far less than two full entrees. The best part of all? Foodies can choose three completely different appetizers, giving them far more variety and selection than a single main course.
Make Sure To Order Right
There are some great life hacks that will help you score more food for nothing at all. The most important is: make sure to order right! Asking for a small change can often get you more food for less money. For instance, one study found that, at places like Subway or Chipotle, when someone ordered half one kind of meat, one half another, they often ended up with nearly one-and-a-half times the portion!
Similarly, when calling ahead for take-out, make sure to ask for a big box instead of a medium one. Due to habit, the kitchen will likely fill the whole big box, even though the portion should only fit a medium one.
What About Drinks?
Next time the bill comes at a restaurant, take a look at the bill. Many never notice, but drinks often cost nearly the same as a meal. Skipping the booze is one of the easiest ways to shrink the bill the next time you eat out. From here on out, just enjoy some non-bottled water at your favorite restaurant. Not only will the bill be smaller, but there’s also no waste!
Lot’s of discounts exist out in the world. However, there’s only one big reason most diners don’t get one: they didn’t ask! Always talk to your waiter about any current or upcoming discounts. For instance, many restaurants have discounted dishes at the end of a season, to quickly use ingredients that will soon go out of season. Also, keep an eye on your favorite eateries’ social media pages, as many will post online-only coupons.
Similarly, always ask about any senior, teacher, business, student, or military discounts, if any apply. These can take up to 15% off a bill! Happy hours, anniversaries, and similar events can also take some money off the total.
As it turns out, restaurant bills don’t have to be scary! As long as you remember these hacks, you’ll always go home with the lowest bill.