Eating Out On A Budget

I love going out to eat. Seriously. I’m in love with eating food I didn’t prepare myself. It’s my most favourite luxury. However… my wallet doesn’t appreciate my good taste.

Living on a student budget, this extra $30 spent on food (even though I have a fully stocked fridge of groceries I just bought….) can hit my savings hard.

Here are some valuable tips anyone can use while going out to eat with friends.

  1. Suggest restaurants where you can use your student card and/or gift cards you may have received from your Crazy Great-Aunt Bev at Christmas.
  2. Order water over pop. Water is FREE, amazing isn’t it? The average soft drink costs about $3 and if it’s not the refillable kind, this price skyrockets. Water is also calorie-less AND good for you… how could you not?
  3. If your friends are planning on drinking alcohol at dinner, have an at-home-drink before you go out. This way you’ll have a little buzz going on and you won’t feel like you’re left out of the party. If you want to drink at dinner, look for specials and for larger sized drinks so that you order less of them – they last longer.
  4. If you’re not overly hungry look to order appetizers as your main meal. You can’t go wrong with spinach and artichoke dip, maybe even some crab cakes. If you’re not feeling the apps, order something off the specials menu that night, you’ll be sure to save a few bucks.
  5.  Don’t be afraid to share. If the apps and specials aren’t calling your name, ask if any of your friends at the table would like to share something with you. Odds are, they’re on a budget too.
  6. Check Groupon and other sites for online deals that the restaurant of your choice may be offering. Your friends may make fun of you, but hey – you’re the one with the extra cash in your pocket.
  7. If you can, suggest going out for lunch rather than dinner. Lunch menus are often much cheaper than dinner ones. For example, All-You-Can-Eat sushi lunches can often be HALF the set price of the dinner option.
  8. Invite your friends over for a potluck instead! When you have friends who love getting together, they won’t care where it is. They can help you cut down costs by all contributing to the meal. If you’re hosting, that’s contribution enough! Set out a few pre-meal snacks and enjoy yourself!

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