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Ballin' On A Budget: 5 Ways to Save Money on Eating Out!

Updated: Jul 10, 2022

It’s Friday and for many… it’s also payday (Wooo-hooo)! And in most of our minds, that’s definitely something to celebrate.

So you convince yourself that it’s okay to “treat yo’self” because after all… you did just go through two weeks (a month for some) of pure workweek stress (sometimes the only thing I really wanna to make hangout plans with bed).

But your friends and co-workers are all ready to hit the happy hour sceneannnnd… why not?!


Let’s just be real with each other. Many of us 20 to 30 - something year olds like to go out on the town to socialize, drink, and eat with our friends And the fact of the matter is… I get it… you work hard, you want to play hard too. But when the situation turns from “treat yo’self” to “ball outta control” (when you know you have rent to pay)… that’s when we got a problem! ​So let’s discuss some ways that we can still enjoy going out, without blowing our entire budget! Shall we... 1. Happy Hour = Happy Prices = Happy Bank Account! Happy Hour is probably one of the most affordable times to indulge in some fun eats and drinks, because most places have some seriously reduced prices to entice you into their establishment.. Grant it, the hours are early, but hey… it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and on Friday (my very favorite day of the week) it’s okay to break the rules a little bit..right?! 2. Pick Budget Friendly Spots! To be quite honest, some of the best food (and drinks) I’ve ever experienced have been at places dubbed as ‘hole in the walls’. I loooove hole in the wall joints because the food is usually bomb, the drinks are usually cheap, and the people are usually so friendly! And as much of a foodie as I am, I’m always looking for a new spot to try… that’s where yelp comes in! Yelp is usually my best friend (if you don’t know about yelp, what rock have you been hiding under?). The thing I love most about Yelp is the fact that you can filter by price. I usually pick the $ or $$ filter, because that’s what’s in the budget! I also love to check out the menu beforehand just to make sure their prices and my budget actually agree. And guess what?!... It hasn’t failed me yet.

​3. Order Water to Drink. Mostly at times other than happy hour, the moment I sit down in a restaurant... a little imaginary calculator pops up in my head. When the waiter/waitress comes over to ask what I’m drinking tonight, the answer is usually... Water! Why?! Because water is free and that imaginary calculator balance... it’s still at $0.00! Not only that… let me tell you a little secret. Most people are not drinking enough water daily... period. In fact, 43% of adults are drinking less than 4 cups of water a day, 36% are drinking 1 to 3 cups a day, and 7% are actually drinking no water at all according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (gasps)! While water intake varies from individual to individual, the rule of thumb is to drink about half your weight in ounces.Your mental and physical well-being is much better off if your body is staying hydrated with the right stuff, which can ultimately help you make better financial decisions (just saying). Remember… “Mind, Body, Soul” (the mantra for 2017). RELATED: How to Maintain Your Sexy! Now I can’t lie and say that when I go out, I don’t like to enjoy a martini (or two) from time to time, but if I’m watching my coins closely... cocktails, cokes, and other specialty drinks are not even on my radar. Think about it like this… with each sip you take, you’re affecting both your wallet (cost of the drink) and your waistline (cost of your health). But I don’t like the taste of water, Elle.” Well girlfriend, grab a lemon, sprinkle a little sugar in it, and call it lemonade for what it’s worth... but do try to increase your water intake and reap all the benefits it has to give both physically and financially. And if you want to cut back even more on your caloric intake, drink an entire glass of water before you even begin eating... then see tip #4! 4. Skip the Appetizer... and Dessert! Listen… going out can be fun, but it doesn’t have to be an all out royal feast (let’s take it down a notch or three, especially if your funds are low). I mean seriously, I’ve gone to out to eat with folks and before the entrée even gets to the table, we’ve already had 3 different appetizers and the button on my pants is literally about to pop! Sound familiar? Then when my main course comes, my appetite is completely shot and I can’t even think about dessert without my stomach hurting. But many people (and families) like to eat like this allll the time. Did you know that in 2015, the average American household spent over $3,000 on restaurants and takeout alone? And that most eating establishments charge a 15% markup on the food they serve? So yea, that twenty dollar entrée you just ordered, actually only cost the establishment $3.00 to make for you. And when you look at it that way… who’s the real financial winner here? Let me tell ya… it ain’t you, boo! Plus, an estimated 80 billion (yes, 80 BILLION) pounds of food is wasted every. single. year. So not only are we as Americans overspending by eating out and ordering everything under the sun (racking up that bill because our eyes are bigger than our stomachs), we’re also wasting ridiculous amounts of food just from pure gluttony. I could go on and on about how our wasted food could feed entire populations in third world countries, buuuut I’ll spare you… this time. My whole point is this… eating out can and should be a treat that you indulge in periodically (and sometimes you may just have to say 'no' altogether), but the key here is to maintain self control and keep your budget and financial priorities in mind. Don’t eat your way out of your future financial goals. 5. Share Plates and / or Sides. Because I like numbers and facts… I’m going to throw another statistic at ya! Did you know that more than ⅓ of Americans are obese and much of that is due to what we discussed earlier in this post, but it’s also because portion sizes in America have grown astronomically over the years. We’re “Super Sizing” this… and “Biggie Sizing” that, making our bank accounts skinnier and our waistlines fatter. But there’s a way to counter this, girlfriend... Share plates! Most entrées ordered in restaurants have enough food to feed two (maybe three) people, but if you’re hungry enough for your own plate… at least try sharing the sides. Ordering two burgers?!... Then share a side of fries. Tacos come three to a serving?!... Order one more and share the rice and beans. Look... how you actually do it is totally up to you, but the fact of the matter is that sharing plates will keep you from sweating bullets when the bill comes at the end of the evening and allows your belly to be satisfied (not stuffed). And I think we can all agree that those are two things we definitely want to keep in check… pun intended! ;) Drop a line below and let me know what you think of this post! Until Next Time, Elle

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