Budget-friendly bon appetit

When you are really trying to stick to a budget, eating out in restaurants is often the first luxury on the spending chopping block. And, while there is no denying that eating at home is far, far less expensive, who says that you can’t treat yourself now and again-and stay on budget.

Here are some tips on how:

Pick your meal time

If you are heading to a restaurant for girls’ night or for date night, why not turn it into girls or date afternoon? Lunch meals tend to be less expensive, but you still get the dining out experience.

Water please

It’s not your meal, but it’s your beverage that will really cost you. Opt for water instead of pop, juice or coffee. And a robust red is lovely if you are having a hearty meal, but you’ll add a bunch onto your bill with alcohol. If you do order a beverage, like coffee, inquire about free refills before you top up.

Buffet champ

Buffets are not necessarily a cheap dining option, but you definitely get more bang (food) for your buck. Avoid holidays and weekends, when buffet prices tend to be higher.

Check your receipt

It’s a good idea to check your receipt- and not just to check for calculation errors. Pay attention for two things in particular: see if the tip is already included in the price. Also, check out the bottom of your receipt. Restaurants will often print coupons at the bottom for your next visit.

Fix it

Opt for a restaurant that offers a table d’hote or prix fixe menu, comprised of several courses. This is often far less expensive than ordering these dishes separately, and you get good variety.

Groupon as your guide

Check out your favourite local deal site and let them tell you where you are going for dinner. There is always a promotion from one restaurant or another, and they can offer great savings.