The number one rule for folks learning how to budget for the first time is to avoiding eating in restaurants at all costs. With that said, birthdays, anniversaries, and milestone accomplishments are all occasions well worth celebrating with a rare meal out.
Your household food budget doesn’t have to be ironclad. You’ve learned how to cook at home. You already save money every month shopping sales at your local grocery and using coupons and promo codes from vendors like Ocado Online Groceries to save money on food costs. With all that hard work putting money in the bank, here are a few tips to celebrate a special occasion with a family dinner out that won’t bust your budget.
1) Skip the booze
Alcohol has the biggest mark up of anything on a restaurant menu. Liquor often carries a 75-80% markup from what you would pay in the grocery store. Your kids obviously won’t be drinking, so skip the cocktails and your tab for the evening will be much lower.
2) Stick to entrees
Appetizers are often unhealthy fried foods that will fill you up before your dinner even arrives. Don’t go crazy with baskets of fried appetizers. A side salad of cup of soup is a much healthier and less expensive option.
3) Save dessert for later
Just like alcohol, desserts often see a huge markup at restaurants. You’ll already be full from your entree so you probably won’t even finish dessert and most don’t make great leftovers. Instead, pay your bill for dinner and then go home to enjoy a pint of ice cream from the grocery store or stop and get a small cone on the way home. For the price of one dessert at the restaurant, you could get cones for the whole family!
4) Don’t skimp on the tip
Everyone wants to save money, but restaurant staff work really hard and deserve at least a 5-10% tip for their trouble. There are plenty of places to cut corners without forgetting about the waiter!
Being on a budget doesn’t mean you need to skip eating in restaurants altogether. Special occasions are well worth the occasional splurge. Just because you decide to splurge on an evening meal out doesn’t mean the monthly budget needs to be scrapped entirely. Use these simple tips to enjoy your special dinner in a restaurant while staying within budget.