1. Happy Hour!! It’s not just about drinks. Many restaurants offer reduced-price food from around 4 to 7 in the “bar area”. And usually “bar areas” have booths, so you can bring the kiddos. Our new favorite find is Palodar — they have weekend happy hours with big booths. That means family dinners for half the price!
2. Snack First! I know, I know. It seems counter-intuitive. But if you eat an apple and pound a bottle of water before dining out, your stomach WON’T be bigger than your eyes. You’ll be less likely to ‘impulse buy’ when you get the menu. But if you can’t do that…..
3. Split! Everything looks good and you’re starving. Before you order one of everything, pick an appetizer or two to split…. And eat it before ordering ANYTHING else. Chances are — you may order another small plate or split an entree. You’ll be glad you saved the calories and the money.
4. Decide Before You Go! Pull up the menu online before dining out. If you wait until you get there, you could get caught up in conversation and miss out on the math of what you’re ordering. There’s nothing worse than sticker shock when the bill arrives.
5. Dine Al Fresco! Spring has sprung. Turn your favorite restaurant fare into a picnic. Pack a blanket (and your favorite vino/ beer), order your meal to-go, then head to a nearby park. The most expensive part of a meal is often the libations. Plus — you’re avoiding the 20% tip.