5 Ways to Eat Out While Staying on Budget

Whether you are trying to pay off credit card debt or saving to buy a house without breaking the bank, everyone knows that eating out is one of the first things to go when living on a budget.

But for those times when the craving for Taco Tuesday or Wonton Wednesday hits, don't worry, there are ways to eat out on a budget, and here are the secrets to doing it right:

Eat First

This might sound ridiculous, but eating a small snack before you leave for dinner, or go food shopping, will curb those hunger pains and help you order more sensibly. A few crackers, a handful of pretzels or anything that is quick and easy will do the trick. Besides, you’ll be in a better mood when they make you wait in line for 20 minutes!

Water not only saves your wallet, but also your waistline

Cut out the Cola

No matter what you make at home, there is no replacing the restaurant food experience. There is just something magical about having a plate full of delicious, prepared food handed to you.

Beverages, on the other hand, are no different whether they’re served to you on a platter or taken out of the fridge at home. So, save the $2-$5 per drink and opt for water instead.

Tip: Stick to a single main dish to keep your bill low

The Mains Rule

Also remember to stick to the 'main rule.' Meaning, appetizers and desserts might be nice but they’re unnecessary and, when they cost nearly as much as an entree, not worth the money.

Keep your bill lower by only ordering a main dish. Most restaurants prepare larger portions than you should be eating anyway, so don’t worry about walking away hungry.

Pass the Bread, Please!

This tip will not flatter your waistline, but it will help you cut back on your bill. Instead of ordering and eating until your belly’s full and your heart’s content, be bread-conscious. Order a smaller dish and take advantage of the bread products that come with the meal. This will be filling and wallet-friendly.

Get Your Scissors Ready

If you have to have that Applebee’s Brew Pub Philly, then take a page from Grandma’s playbook. Find savings around every corner. Print coupons from Groupon, cut them out from newspapers, win them on Facebook and other social media outlets, track them down and put them to good use. You deserve it!

Learn to eat like a King on the budget of a pauper

Eating out Fund

And, as with all other secrets to staying on budget, start saving now. You can do this even if you are paying off a personal loan (a great way to get out of debt, by the way). 

Keep a jar at your front door, and whenever you come in at the end of the day, dump your loose change in there (or add a dollar when you’re having a good day!) Pretty fast, this will add up to a sizable amount, just perfect for your restaurant of choice.

Live Better Now

Frugal living is always a good idea, but if you are really stuck in a debt rut that you just can’t seem to get out of, learn more about  the best personal loan companies and what they can do to help fast.

If you are already learning to live frugally, don’t stop with dining. Check out the rest of our "shoestring budget" articles:

Globe-trotting on a shoestring budget: 5 Tips for Traveling the World without Breaking the bank

Honeymooning on a shoestring budget: 5 tips for getting the honeymoon you want without breaking the bank

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