Even if you love creating a great family meal it can be a real drag trying to produce a culinary masterpiece with so many mouths to feed, which is why the opportunity to escape the kitchen and eat out at a restaurant carries plenty of appeal.
The problem for many of us, especially if you have a big family, is that eating out can get expensive unless you can find some ways to cut the cost.
Here is a look at some tips and strategies to help you dine out for less. There are tips on how to get regular discounts, a self-service option to slash the cost of your meal, plus strategies for cutting out extras that add to the cost of eating out.
Your inbox is a great source of discounts
You might not like opening up your inbox and trawling your way through a pile of junk mail, but hidden amongst that lot are likely to be some tasty offers from local restaurants and chains.
Signing up for coupons and email alerts when a discount is available can be a real no-brainer as it does all the legwork for you. All you have to do is check your inbox and see what deals are on the table for a family meal that will cost less than usual.
Any chance to earn some money off your restaurant bill or using a credit card where you earn rewards points is an excellent way of slashing the cost of a family trip to one of your favourite restaurants.
The Amex card, for example, is the only card that earns Plenti points, so if you like earning rewards for just using your card to pay for things, it makes sense to take a look at what deals are on offer when deciding which cards to carry around in your wallet.
Head out early for an extra discount
Restaurants are often busy throughout the evening so they don’t always feel the need to offer any deals to diners, but most of them try to fill up their earlier slots by offering lower prices.
If you have kids to feed you probably want to eat earlier anyway, and if you look out for early bird specials there is every chance that you can find a restaurant where you can eat the same food for a lot less, as a reward for dining outside of the busy slots.
Half-price drinks, two-for-one meals and all sorts of discounts are commonplace when you dine out as an early bird, so don’t pass up this opportunity to eat a great meal that would be costing a lot more just a few hours later on.
Almost like eating at home
Another great idea for slashing the cost of eating out is to pick a restaurant where you only pay for the food and drink and not for the waiting staff.
Self-service restaurants are almost like enjoying a family meal but without the hassle of cooking and washing up the dishes after you have eaten.
Casual dining establishments where you serve yourself at the buffet or collect the meal from the counter are a perfect solution for feeding your family on a budget. The difference in price between self-service and being waited on can be substantial but you are still able to enjoy restaurant grade food for a lot less cash.
Straight to the main event
If you are eating out on a budget there are some savvy ways to cut the cost even when you can’t get a discount code or special offer to reduce the size of your bill.
Ask yourself do you really need a starter?
Most of the time the main course is more than enough to satisfy your taste buds and your appetite, and if the restaurant brings some freebies to the table like bread or chips, you can fill up on those rather than spending extra on a starter.
It is not unusual to add another £4-5 to your bill on a starter, but if you save yourself for the main entrée you will be saving some decent money. It doesn’t have to stop there either, as restaurant’s love it when you order extra drinks like coffee at the end of the meal or ask for a soda. Skip those and stick to the water to shave even more off the price of your meal.
Another tip worth remembering is to split some of the portions. If you are feeding a few kids or one of you doesn’t have a big appetite, order one less portion and share the rest around to save some money.
Dining out is fun and if you are savvy with the deals and discounts, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.
Charlotte Hicks has made 2017 the year that she saves a ton of money, putting it towards the kid’s college funds. She’s sharing her tips and tricks for saving every penny she can.