Nothing tastes better than food prepared by someone else. With consumer demand at a historical high, restaurants serve millions of hungry patrons. It’s an experience that leaves our stomachs full, but wallets empty. Truly, dining out expenses add up.
Americans spend a lot of money dining out
According to a 2017 survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that American households spend about $3,300 on dining out expenses. That’s $600 higher than in 2014. The service industry continues to rise, and so does its gratuity expectations. Tipping culture remains a thing. It’s all hard-earned cash, without a doubt.
However, if we shifted our eating expenses elsewhere, we open up new possibilities for our budgets. Think, down payments on cars, or housing upgrades. You can do a lot with a couple of thousand dollars.
How to spend less on food
There are several ways to spend less on food. The biggest, skip dining out for more home-prepared meals. You can go organic on the cheap while creating tasty dishes in less than 30 minutes.
Other suggestions include meal-planning, as well as bulk shopping. If you must dine out, try to do so when the restaurants have promotions. Many offer free appetizers if you sign up for their newsletter.
Lunch vs. Dinner
On average, dining at a restaurant for lunch is cheaper than dining for dinner. Most patrons skip alcoholic beverages and desserts, midday. Nixing the table extras will reduce the bill by at least $15. Every little bit counts when it comes to money.
How to keep your dining out expenses under control
There are several ways to save in regards to restaurant dining. Here’s an easy recap:
1. Search online for restaurant promotions.
2. Skip the drinks and order water.
3. Ask if a half-plate is available, or split a full one with a friend.
4. Buy restaurant gift cards from retailers that discount them.
5. Lastly, eat an appetizer as your main dish.
Create a food budget that lasts
You can reduce your dining out expenses by creating a food budget. It doesn’t have to be strict, but it does require moderation. Experts suggest using less than 5% of your total income. If you make $40,000 a year, that’s around 2K.
While dining out can be satisfying, don’t spend more than you can afford. Use your short-term financial goals as inspiration against overindulgence. Your wallet will surely thank you.