Friday, 25 January 2008

Cutting the cost of eating out

Tonight was supposed to be the first frugal meal of a well-planned weekend's eating but . . . er . . . it didn't quite work out that way. I worked flat out all day and didn't finish till 7. The temptation to go out was too great to resist.

Feeling guilty I decided we should go somewhere reasonably cheap so we headed for the tapas bar down the road. We ordered five dishes* instead of our usual six and two glasses of wine in total rather than two each. Result a bill of £30 rather than the £40 we usually spend.

It was actually pretty painless. I was thinking about other ways to cut the cost of eating out and came up with this list:

1) Order two starters rather than a starter and a main course

2) Just have one course. I think people are sometimes embarrassed to do that but it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Think of the French plat du jour.

3) Go somewhere you can graze or snack (like a tapas bar) rather than having a full meal and don't spend all evening there. (The longer you stay, the more you're likely to spend)

4) Have a drink before you go out to avoid ratcheting up a costly booze bill (Post-dinner coffee and tea too are cheaper at home)

5) If you want to go to a smart restaurant go at lunchtime mid-week rather than in the evening. (Not often possible when you're working, admittedly, but worth it when you can.)

6) Take the set menu, especially if you're in a group. Encourages everyone else to follow suit

7) Drink tap water rather than mineral water - and beer rather than wine or cocktails

I shall see how well I manage to stick to these strategies over the coming weeks.

* It would have been four but for the fact they had a dish of tongue in red wine on the menu which I thought I should research for the book. At least that was my excuse. Good, actually. Must try it.

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