During an economic recession, everyone is looking for ways to save money. If people are serious about budgeting, they will look at every line item and attempt to find ways to cut costs. Eating out and general entertainment costs are usually an easy target, particularly since many of these expenses are considered optional. However, even during tough economic times people still choose to eat out, either because it is so ingrained in their lifestyle, or because it provides a source of comfort. Some restaurants are enticing people to keep coming out by offering discounted menus. Here are a few thoughts on how these particular offerings can help save money.
One way that restaurants are helping save money is by offering cheaper entrees. Some restaurants call this a “value” menu, while others are offering smaller portions and labeling them as “just enough”. Granted, people have to keep in mind that restaurants are not doing this out of the goodness of their heart. Rather, they know it is better to sell cheaper food items than no food items at all. Therefore, people can buy less expensive menu items, but they still have to be aware of their dining habits and other purchases.
Kids eat free
Other restaurants offer deals where kids up to a certain age can eat “free”. This is often on a particular day or during certain hours. Of course, there are usually caveats and rules attached to these offers. Sometimes a child eating free is contingent on an adult purchasing a certain entree. Restaurants are also counting on the fact that people forget which day the offer is provided. If people show up and it isn’t “kids eat free day”, they will probably still eat at the restaurant.
Some restaurants are providing cheaper combinations so that people can save money on particular items. For example, a restaurant may offer an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert for a fixed price. This may be, on the surface, a good financial deal. However, people do have to keep in mind that they may be purchasing more than they really need. In other words, would it be cheaper to buy two entrees and skip the appetizer and the dessert? It isn’t hard to find examples of where people eat too much at a restaurant. Therefore, combo deals might be nice, but people have to keep in mind that the overall goal is still to save money.
Watch the extras
While there are ways to save money through discounted menus, there are also ways to spend just as much as a normal visit. For example, some people will order extra items and sides because they feel they have some financial “cushion”, due to the discounted item. Or, people will load up the bill with beverages, which can apply to adults as well as children. Sometimes the “kids eat free” menu does not include beverages.
Finally, people have to keep in mind that cheaper menus are nice, but it may still be much more affordable to eat at home. Eating at home may not be as fun, but oftentimes a prepared meal is much cheaper than eating out. In addition, there is a definitive social benefit to gathering the family around the table at home. Therefore, taking advantage of deals is one way to save money, but the best way may be to just stay home.