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Is dining out burning a hole in your pocket? Find out how to save money on eating out!
By Prerna Malik
Are you often reviewing your monthly budget and finding that dining out has taken a huge chunk out of it?
Does eating out mean ‘expensive’ to you?
Well, you aren’t alone.
Eating out is often the main culprit when it comes to the household budget. I know that, because I’ve experienced this first-hand.
While eating out can be expensive, it is also a form of entertainment for many, yours truly included. The experience of trying out new dishes, the soothing ambience of a classy restaurant and best of all, no dishes to wash just make the experience so worthwhile!
Fortunately, there is a way to eat out for less and still enjoy the experience.
Here’s how we do that:
The first thing we did to cut down on our eating out expenses and still manage to dine out was to stick to tried and tested places. We have standing favourites for Indian, Mughlai, Continental and Chinese cuisines. We’ve been visiting these restaurants for years and can be sure that not only will we get value for money but also great food and good service.
What restaurants can you identify that fit the bill? Make a list and keep it handy to pull out whenever you’re in the mood for some eating out on a budget.
However, eating out at the same place can get boring and dull the novelty that dining out offers. So, when you’re in the mood to try out a new place, go over and check out their starters first before opting for a full-course meal.
Because they’re generally inexpensive and will give you a sampling of the kitchen’s skills and the service. If everything is good, you can put it on your list and come back the next time, confident that you’ll get complete bang for your buck.
Whether you’re going to a new place or a tried and tested one, always read reviews.
I do this because sometimes an old favourite may have a change of ownership and lose its charm and pocket-friendly appeal. With newer places, it gives you an idea of what to expect and which ones to steer clear of.
Sites like Zomato and Burrp offer you plenty of reviews and star ratings as well to give you a good enough idea of what’s going to be on your plate.
My husband and I are also fond of exotic cuisines like Thai, Mexican and like to experiment with them. However, these can be expensive when you eat out. Our solution is to make a Thai Red Curry at home and order in some nice sides from our favourite Thai restaurant.
It isn’t eating out technically, but it does make ordering in a lot more fun!
This is one of our preferred ways to pay for our meals when eating out. We pay with our points. In simpler words, we redeem our credit card points for meal vouchers and get to try out a new eating joint without having to dig out the wallet, per se. Check with your credit card issuing bank to see what restaurant vouchers you can avail for your points and get ready to eat out for pretty much, free!
If you’ve been wanting to try out a new place, ask your friends if they’d like to join you and split the bill. It is usually cheaper and also, more fun. You enjoy good food and have some great company to go with it as well.
Finally, and most importantly, scout for deals, clip and file coupons and call a restaurant to find out if they have specials during off-peak times, such as lunch.
Most restaurants offer happy hours or have a budget-friendly lunch on offer. Daily deal sites like Snap Deal can make trying out a new restaurant much cheaper with their offers. You pay a nominal amount like Rs.25 or Rs.40 to get up to 50% off on your meal. Makes eating out fun and economical!
Eating out, like we discovered, does not have to eat a hole in your budget. You can try out new foods, savour the ambience that a fine dining restaurant offers, enjoy the ease and entertainment that dining out offers and still, manage to rein in expenses and stick to your budget.
How can you make eating out on a budget easy for yourself? Share with me in the comments.
Also, if there is a smart living solution that you’d like us to cover in an upcoming column, do let us know.
*Photo credit: isante_magazine (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
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