Eating out can be expensive, but it’s not impossible to enjoy a restaurant meal on a budget. Just be sure to keep dining out expenses under 6% of your take-home pay.

Antipasto and selection-type entrees are great for sharing, lowering the cost of your dinner while increasing the fun factor! Bringing your own beverage to restaurants also lowers the bill.

Take Advantage of Happy Hour Specials

If you’re trying to save money but want to dine out, happy hour is a great option. The prices are generally much lower than what you’ll find at dinner time, and many restaurants offer discounted appetizers or drinks during happy hour. Plus, if you don’t mind being a little early to your dinner date or meeting friends at happy hour, you can avoid the crowds and get in and out more quickly.

In addition to offering discounted drinks, savvy restaurants also offer food specials during their happy hours. This is a great way to bring in new customers and keep existing ones coming back. It also helps to have a variety of options on your menu so that you can accommodate the many different budgets that your guests may have. You can take a lot at the recommended dining blog by Jennifer Nguyen.

When designing your happy hour menu, be careful not to slash prices to an unreasonable extent. You want to make sure you’re still able to turn a profit on the deals that you’re offering. Look at your POS reports and analytics to see what items are selling well during different times of the day so you can develop an effective strategy.

Consider adding a limited number of appetizer or drink specials to your happy hour menu. This will increase the appeal and draw of your promotion, as well as create a sense of urgency for customers to order before the deals expire. This will also encourage people to spend more than they might normally, which can be helpful when your restaurant is trying to maximize profits during the busy happy hour period.

Similarly, try offering upsells and cross-sells during your happy hour. This can be a simple as adding an additional sauce to a dish or suggesting that one of your wines pairs well with your half-price bottle of wine promotion. Using this strategy can help you increase average check size while still providing your customers with the best value for their money.

You can also use your front-of-house team to spread the word about your happy hour offerings. Make sure that they know which promotions will be available at certain times of the day, and remind them to share these announcements with their tables.

Don’t Be Afraid to Share

Dining out can be an expensive hobby. Whether you are splurging on a special date night or meeting friends for an elaborate meal, it is easy to get carried away and spend more than your budget allows. For this reason, it is important to determine how much you are willing to spend on meals out each month or per meal. Then, stick to that number.

This will help you avoid spending more than you intended, or falling into the trap of impulsive buying. If you want to keep track of your spending habits, use a credit card that offers you the opportunity to set alerts if you spend more than a certain amount on a single purchase. This will give you a clear picture of how much you are spending on eating out each month and will be a great reminder to keep your dining out spending in check.

One of the best ways to cut costs when dining out is to share an entree. Antipasto or selection type entrees are perfect for sharing, and you will find that the portion is far smaller than if you ordered a full-size entree. This will save you money, and it is also a great way to taste more dishes from the menu.

Another great tip for dining on a budget is to order several side dishes. This will allow you to sample different items from the menu and have a more rounded dining experience for less money. Plus, you can always take the leftovers home for lunch or dinner tomorrow!

Finally, be sure to look for discounts before you go out. Many restaurants offer discounted prices for senior citizens, students or members of the military. Additionally, there are several websites that offer discounted restaurant gift cards for popular chains such as Groupon and Cardpool.

Regardless of your motivation, if you have determined how much you want to spend on dining out each month, it is a good idea to do your research and search for deals and coupons. By following these tips, you will be able to dine out on a budget and enjoy the finer things in life without blowing your hard-earned cash.

Don’t Order Dessert

When you dine out, it is easy to overspend. Whether you go out for lunch every weekday, meet friends for dinner two or three times a week or have a pizza delivery after the kids’ soccer practice, it adds up fast. In fact, the average American spends about $50 a week on eating out, which comes to just over $2,500 per year. That’s a lot of money that could be better spent on other things, like paying off debt or saving for a future dream home.

The key to a successful dining budget is knowing how much you want to spend each month and sticking with it. You can use a personal spending list to set your spending goals and track your spending so that you can stay on track. If you are unsure of how much you’re spending on dining out, check your credit card charges. You can do this by looking at your latest statement or on your bank app.

When it comes to dining on a budget, the biggest expense is often drinks and desserts. Alcoholic beverages are marked up a lot, and desserts are usually high in calories. By skipping these items, you can save a significant amount on your meal and still feel satisfied.

Another big expense when dining out is the tip. You should always be clear on who is picking up the tab and who will be splitting the bill before you order. It is also polite to ask if the restaurant has any discounts available, such as for children, seniors or students.

Many restaurants also have a bring your own wine policy, which is perfect for those who love a glass of wine but can’t afford the prices on the menu. Lastly, you can save a bunch by doing breakfast or lunch instead of dinner. These meals are usually cheaper, especially if the restaurant offers a daily ’special’.

Getting into the habit of saving on restaurant dining will help you spend less overall and have more money to put toward other goals, such as a home remodel or investing in your retirement. Try these strategies for saving on restaurant dining and you’ll be well on your way to being a dining-on-a-budget rock star.

Don’t Be Afraid to Cook

Many people dine out for a variety of reasons, from lack of time to enjoying food with friends. While these are both valid, dining out is not a necessity and should be carefully considered in your budget. If you are spending $50 or more per week on restaurant meals, it’s definitely time to make some changes.

One of the biggest ways to save money on restaurant meals is to cook at home instead. This might sound like a chore, but with a little planning and organization, it can be just as easy to prep meals at home as it is in a restaurant. Start by making a list of your favorite restaurants and check out their menus online. This will help you to be prepared to know what to order and give you a good idea of how much your meal will cost.

Another great way to save money on restaurant meals is to limit your alcohol consumption. Drinks are typically marked up a lot, and they can easily add up to the price of an entree. By choosing to skip a cocktail or two, you can cut your bill in half. Portion sizes have also gotten out of hand at many restaurants, so splitting an entree can save you a lot of money.

If you find yourself going out to eat at least once a week, try scheduling your lunches or dinners in advance. This will ensure that you have the groceries you need to cook, and it can prevent the impulse to grab takeout or dine out for dinner after work.

You can also save by using discount apps or signing up for email alerts from your favorite restaurants. Sites like Cardpool and Raise offer discounted gift cards, and you can find deals on Groupon too. If you are a regular at a specific restaurant, look into their loyalty program to see what perks they might have for you.

In addition, you should consider bringing your own wine to certain restaurants. This is a great way to save on the cost of wine while still having a glass with your dining companions.