Dining out can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it can also be quite expensive. Between appetizers, drinks, entrées, and desserts, the cost for a meal can quickly add up. If you are trying to stick to a budget, there are some techniques that you can use that can cut down on your expenses. Saving money at Italian restaurants is particularly easy to do. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Skip the appetizer and stick to bread instead. Most restaurants that serve Italian food offer breadsticks or small loaves of bread for free before your meal arrives. Instead of ordering an appetizer, just munch on the bread. Even if the restaurant doesn’t have free breadsticks available, you can still get by without ordering an appetizer. Just focus on visiting with the people you are seated with until your food arrives. You may find that you enjoy your entrée more when you aren’t already full from your appetizer.
2. Drink water. Beverages are one of the biggest hidden expenses at restaurants. Although it may not seem like a big deal to order a cup of coffee or a soda with your meal, most drinks cost at least a couple of dollars. That can add up to $10 or more if you are eating with the family. If you skip your drinks and have water instead, you can save a lot of money on your final bill.
3. Shop for discount gift cards online. A lot of times, people will sell gift cards to popular restaurants online at a discounted rate. For instance, they may get a $25 gift card to a restaurant from someone for their birthday and decide that they don’t want to use it. In that case, they can turn around and sell it online for $20, allowing them to get cash that they can spend on something else instead. Buying these types of gift cards can give you a significant discount on your meals.
4. Split a meal with someone else. Restaurant portions are surprisingly large. You may be able to get by splitting a meal with someone else. If you aren’t particularly hungry, this can be a great way to save money.
5. Save half of your meal for later. Although it won’t cut down on your bill, putting half of your meal aside in a to-go box when your order first arrives is a great way to get more mileage out of your meal. Because portion sizes are so big at restaurants, you usually only need to eat about half of what they bring out. By saving the other half for later, you can essentially get two meals out of your entrée.
You should be able to save quite a bit of money at Italian restaurants using these tips. Eating out at restaurants can be fun and relaxing. Best of all, when you use these strategies, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great time and enjoy a delicious meal at your favorite Italian restaurant.