First Person: Dining Out on $30 or Less

Yahoo Contributor Network

According to a report on ABCNews.com, the average person spent $2,505 eating away from home in 2010. If you break that number down, it's around $48 a week, which means two people could spend $24 each on a nice meal.

Like many couples, my husband and I like to go out to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant; however, with a never ending supply of outgoing expenses every month it can be hard to do. Things like household food, bills, and gasoline use up a large part of our income, so it can be difficult to find ways to enjoy our money. For several years now we have budgeted money especially for entertainment, but it constantly fluctuates to cover other things. In order to afford our dinner outings I have found ways to reduce the cost of the meal itself. Here are some of the ways I save money while dining out.

No wine with dinner

I'm not a huge fan of alcoholic beverages, but I used to enjoy a glass of wine on occasion while dining out. When it became clear that we were spending too much money on food and drinks, I decided to ditch the wine. At some establishments a good glass of wine cost around $4, so that means we were spending $8 for two glasses, and since I try to spend as close to $30 as possible they had to go.

No appetizers

My husband is a huge fan of some of the appetizers at our favorite restaurant, but they are quite costly. One appetizer can cost $10, which is a third of what I hope to spend while we are out. There are occasions when we make exceptions; for example, we will order an appetizer and then split one entree, but for the most part we forgo them altogether.

Don't over-order

I know for sure I'm not the only one guilty of this. I use to order more food than I needed so I could bring it home as leftovers to eat for lunch the next day; however, I realized I was spending between $4 to $10 more per meal because of it. Now, for example, instead of ordering an eight ounce steak, I order a six ounce steak. If both we do this, we can reduce our bill by $8 or more.

Admittedly, trying to enjoy meal at a nice restaurant on $30 is a challenge at best, but it is possible. Following some simple rules has helped us get out to our favorite places more often without busting our budget. We do make exceptions and throw caution and our budget to the wind, but when that isn't possible this way works for us.

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