Tips for eating out on a budget

Eating is a social sport, but eating out often can get pricey. Of course you can always stay at home to cut down on spending, but there will always be something to celebrate or someone to catch-up with.

After blogging for six years (and eating at over 2,500 restaurants), I can tell you that my dining expenses have increased quite a bit. Here are a few strategies I use to keep my expenses down when eating out:

Tap water is free

Partaking in beverages such as pop or alcohol can significantly increase the price of your meal. A can of soda can easily cost $3 and an alcoholic drink can easily be $10.  Ask for a glass of our high-quality drinking water to stay hydrated and save. Our water is great because it is supplied by our mountain reservoirs and is treated. At most Asian restaurants, you can ask for complimentary tea.

Daily specials

Some restaurant have daily specials. For example, this local establishment’s Wing Wednesdays offer half price wings, which make them $6 a pound. Look online or on social media to see what’s available at the places you like to eat at and ask what the daily specials when you’re there. In some case you can save up to 50% of the regular meal price.

Happy hour

A lot of restaurants in Vancouver and Victoria have a competitive happy hour during their less busy times when discounts on food and beverages are offered. Usually this falls on weekdays around 5 pm. if you make a list of your favourite places and their happy hours handy you’ll be at the ready should a friend want an impromptu catch up.

Skip the appetizer and dessert

At most places entrées are a good enough size for one person to feel full on.  Do your research beforehand, check out online menus and photos or just ask your server to get a good sense of portion sizes because adding an appetizer or something sweet to finish things off also adds up.

Culinary schools

One of my favourite places to dine is at community college-run restaurants like this one. You can get a beautiful two or three course meal for a reasonable price while helping local students learn the ropes of the hospitality industry. The meal is always impressive and on par with high-end restaurants.

The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts on Granville Island not only has a student-run restaurant but also a bakery for freshly made artisan breads and pastries.

These are just a few of my favourite ways of saving money while eating out. What are yours? Tell us @Vancity using #GoodMoneyBlog.

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