Have you been denying yourself the pleasure of eating out lately? Maybe you feel that it’s too expensive? Maybe you think it doesn't fit into your plans to lose weight? Fortunately, there are many different things you can do to still enjoy eating out without hurting your bank account or your waistline.
|Kurobota Pork Belly from Lolo Dad's Cafe|
How to Eat Out and Save Money
It's no secret that eating out is usually more expensive than cooking at home. However, it’s not always possible to cook every single night -- you had to work late, you didn't have time to go grocery shopping, you’re a terrible cook and need some good food tonight; so it’s important to understand ways to eat out and still stay within your budget, and below are a few suggestions:
- Take Home - Ask the server to bring you a take home container when they bring you your meal. Then cut your meal in half, and put one half in the take home container. You will not only cut your portion in half, thus helping you with your diet, but you will also stretch a single meal into two or possibly even three meals, which will benefit both you and your pocketbook.
- Couponing - Don’t underestimate the power of the COUPON! That simple little piece of paper can get you a fabulous meal, served to you, without the fuss or mess, at a reduced rate. The best part, coupons are easy to come by these days. Gone are the days of sitting at the kitchen table with the Sunday paper sprawled out in front of you, reading and clipping away until you think you’re going to go blind. Now you just have to get online to one of the many coupon sites, type the restaurant you are looking for in the search bar, and voila! Out pops several options. Paying full price at a restaurant can be a thing of the past to the savvy consumer!
|Four Seasons Salad from Italianni's Restaurant|
How to Eat Out and Get Healthy
Eating healthy isn't all about losing weight. It’s about putting good ingredients into your body and feeling healthy. Believe it or not, there are a few ways to make this happen even when you’re out to eat:
- Fresher Ingredients – Because they're cooking so many meals a day, restaurants can use fresher ingredients than the average homemaker cooking daily meals for their family. Have you gone to the grocery store lately? The aisles are full of processed and packaged foods rich in... preservatives! And not just preservatives, but chemicals, fillers, and artificial coloring and flavors -- yum, right? WRONG!
Most restaurants do not use packaged or processed foods. And while many types of meat, such as ham and bacon, come with some preservatives added, restaurants can stay away from preservatives much easier than the average cook at home. And while many restaurants do use butter and salt, you can almost always request substitutes or eliminations of anything you deem unhealthy.
- Preferences – You get what you want when you want it. Gone are the grumblings of your teenage son who doesn't like vegetables –- he can substitute mashed potatoes and gravy instead. And your little one? They do not have to be force-fed your meatloaf. No! They can have their precious chicken tenders with ranch dip. And the lady of the house can have fresh vegetables and lean meat, while her hubby can enjoy a heartier meal of steak and potatoes. No muss. No fuss. And everyone is happy because everyone gets exactly what they want.
Or, you can also opt to order appetizers as your main course. This will not only save you some calories, but will also effectively lower your bill!
|Mango Pudding from Market Cafe|
How to Eat Out and Justify that Pesky Tip
So what about that pesky tip? That 15 to 20 percent additional charge added to your total bill? Justifying this really comes from just one reason, but many think this is the most important:
- Experience – That tip you leave your server is NOT for the server alone. No sir! The server shares that tip with the bus boy who cleans your table, the water boy who keeps your water glass full and refreshed, and sometimes even the bartender, dishwasher, and the cook! So what is it worth to you to get a quality, fresh meal, exactly how you want it, healthy, and sticking to your diet and budgetary needs? And, served to you with no messy pots and pans at the end? I say... PRICELESS!!
How do you justify going out to eat? Do you have any tips or tricks to help you make your experience worth it all around? Let us know in the comments section below!