Don’t be Out-of-Pocket when Dining out

Dining out in restaurants, bars and cafés can be so appealing. There are many wonderful dishes to choose from, and the atmosphere is conducive to meeting fun new people. But dining out can also be expensive, especially if it becomes a daily ritual. Figure out how to dine out and spend less so that you can enjoy exceptional experiences and don’t bust your budget those.

When Dining out, Save Money – Plan before You Leave Home

When it comes to saving money, “planning ahead” should be the first thought that comes to mind. You might surf the internet or leaf through your newspaper before heading out. If you visit the restaurant’s site or official Facebook page, you can often explore the menu in advance. Some websites also show a variety of restaurants to choose from, enabling you to visit the restaurants’ sites and check out the prices of their dishes.

Websites and newspapers might also display promotional deals that particular restaurants are offering. There are food review sites where you can read ratings of the cuisine, atmosphere, service and price. With the help of your research, you can select a restaurant that matches your budget and appetite.

There are also sites that offer coupons and gift vouchers that you simply print out and present at a restaurant to cut your expenditure so that your budget is better served. You might need to pay a small price to take advantage of the special, but it will still help you save money.

You might decide not to go to extravagant, expensive restaurants at all. Instead, you can dine out at casual roadside establishments like food carts or food trucks offering mouth-watering irresistible dishes at mind-blowingly inexpensive prices.

If you have your heart set on eating at a proper restaurant, try to go early, either during lunchtime or “early-bird hour”. You will find that the same menu items on the menu will cost much less than if you ordered them at dinnertime. Still, if you do decide to dine out at an expensive restaurant, be sure to avoid paying extra tips to the waiter if the gratuity has already been added to the total bill.

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When Dining out, Save Money – Ordering Your Meal

When you dine out at a restaurant, remember that you don’t have to order one item from each and every menu category. Did you know that many appetisers are almost as large as the main-course meals but only half the price? This means that it isn’t always necessary to purchase those expensive entrees. It’s suggested that you focus more on the considerable variety of appetisers on the menu by asking your waiter to explain them a bit to you.

If you are eating food like burgers, pizzas or sub-sandwiches, refrain from adding pricey extras like additional toppings on pizzas or extra meat layers/decks on burgers and subs. These add-ons needlessly raise your bill while costing the restaurant next to nothing. You may have noticed that some expensive dining establishments offer relatively large dishes.

If you feel like you won’t eat so much, share your food with your dining companion. For instance, you might prefer eating 8 ounces of steak, but your only menu option is a steak weighing 15 ounces. In this particular case, you can halve it and share it with your companion. You might like to cut it in half yourself, but you can also ask the waiter to have the staff do it for you.

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Be wary that some restaurants might charge you extra for serving you one dish as two shared plates, so it’s often best to ask for an extra plate and do the halving yourself. By doing this, you’ll be responsible for only half of the bill and consequently, save lots of money.

However, if you are dining alone but still want to enjoy a variety of different dishes, continue to order exactly what you wish. Eat something from all your dishes, then have the rest packed up to take away and eat at home at another mealtime. You will get to eat restaurant-quality food twice while paying only once for it!

When Dining out, Save Money – Drinking Wine

When ordering an expensive wine, save money by ordering a whole bottle. For it can often be that the price of one glass of drink may come close to the cost of one entire bottle. This means that you’d otherwise be paying four times the wine’s price for just one-quarter of a bottle! You can also save money by selecting your drink smartly.

Ask your waiter about the wines that are almost out of stock. A restaurant often sells off its last few bottles at a lower price so as to finish up its stock and enable a reorder. If you do some research on your smartphone, you will realise that some inexpensive wine brands offer similar quality and taste to renowned expensive ones.

Make an effort to select those from the wine list. If you prefer alcoholic cocktail drinks like Mai Tais and Long Island Iced Teas, pick inexpensive in-house alcoholic mixers if that option is available. Expensive brand-name liquor could make that exotic cocktail feel like a waste of money, while a variety of relatively cheap brand of alcohol could make that drink worth your money.

Choose domestically produced hard liquor drinks rather than imported ones. You will both save your money and do the national economy a favour. If a restaurant allows BYOB, be sure to bring your alcohol, and you’ll have sunk a fraction of the price of what is offered on the restaurant’s list. Not to forget, if you’re not a huge fan of alcohol, skip ordering from the wine list altogether.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).