Dining on a budget

Are you trying to pay off debt? Do you need to save more for emergencies? Is investing for retirement your priority?

So, start by creating a budget based on your income and specific financial goals. Then, adjust your eating-out budget line accordingly even if that means setting it to zero so you can throw all your extra money at your debt.

You can save money at restaurants by splitting meals, skipping the expensive drinks, and finding the best happy hour deals. But if you want to cut down on your overall eating-out costs, here are some ways to help you get your cravings under control. Eating out is usually easier and quicker than making a meal at home.

But meal planning can help! Busy morning? Rough day at work? A quick lunch delivery will make me feel better. Made it to the weekend? I deserve to treat myself to a nice dinner! But treating yourself once often turns into treating yourself five times a week.

It could be several small treats or one big treat, but having a limit will keep you from blowing your budget. Also, what if you treated yourself to something besides eating out? You could go on a walk, chat with a friend, or do a hobby you enjoy.

There are plenty of cheap or free ways to reward yourself! Everyone can bring their own dinner, or you could do a themed potluck. Delivery apps like Postmates, Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash are convenient—but super expensive.

Not only are you charged for the meal itself plus tax, but also the service fee, delivery fee and tip for the delivery person. So, count the cost before you let your late-night cravings steer you into overdraft.

Or at least choose the pickup option and save yourself a good chunk of change on the delivery fees. The best way to save money on eating out or anything else is with a budget. Having a plan for your money before the month begins lets you know exactly how much you can spend in each area.

Don't forget to look up your restaurant of choice online too. Many restaurants have active social media accounts which offer deals and specials. Many major cities also have restaurant week style events throughout the year.

Participating restaurants offer major discounts for a three-course meal. If you're going to eat out anyway, a coupon or discount is worth investigating. Toast to a lower bill by keeping your alcohol consumption to a minimum. Bars and restaurants markup drinks a lot.

Have a drink at home before or after dinner, or limit yourself to just one at dinner. Mixed drinks can often cost nearly the same amount as an entrée, so foregoing a drink can nearly cut your bill in half. Portion sizes have gotten totally out of hand at most restaurants, but you can use this to your advantage.

Splitting an entrée means you'll save a lot of money. Or if you don't split your meal, at least take home half and you've essentially paid once to feed yourself twice. As I mentioned earlier, I love planning my meals in advance. I totally geek out over online menus.

If you know where you are going to eat in advance, check out the online menu and hopefully it will help you make a budget-friendly choice.

Especially if you are going to a pricier restaurant, looking at the menu in advance will help you make the hard decision to skip a drink or order an appetizer for your meal. It's exactly this kind of clear-headed decision you are unlikely to make in the heat of the moment at the restaurant.

Dining out is often a delusional act. All these reasons are crap. If you're going to eat out, admit it's because you want to eat out, and then make sure your financial life can justify the expense.

21 Cheap Foods to Buy if You're Broke or on a Budget · 1. Apples · 2. Bananas · 3. Beans · 4. Brown Rice · 5. Chicken · 6. Corn Tortillas · 7 The biggest tip we have for restaurant savings is this: budget. Each month before the next month begins, sit down with your spouse or MyPlate can help you make healthy choices within your budget. Use this tool to find cost-saving opportunities in your local area and discover new ways to

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How Much to Budget Each Month for Eating Out

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