I enjoy dining out for multiple reasons. When we dine out we don’t have to plan a meal, thaw out meat ahead of time or spend time cooking. We don’t have to wash the dishes or clean up either. The two things that I don’t enjoy are the bill, because dining out is definitely more expensive than cooking at home in most cases, and the effect on my waistline. The food normally isn’t so healthy and has larger than usual portions and that means more pounds on the scale in the mornings.
There are many ways to save money and calories while eating out but there are two that are so easy that everyone can do with no additional time or effort needed. You don’t have to go online, search for ten minutes and then find out what you thought was a great coupon is no longer valid. Drink water. Don’t buy alcohol, sodas, juices or other beverages that a) cost money and b) are probably high in calories. Now to address each point more specifically.
On the money side drinks can be very expensive when you dine out. A soda averages anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00. Multiply by 2 (for myself and my girlfriend) and that is $3 to $6 and then add the 20% tip and your sales tax and you are up to at least $3.75 to $7.50 and that is assuming you are drinking soda. Alcohol and other drinks are usually more expensive and don’t get free refills. Those fancy lemonade drinks from Wendy’s? Same thing! Drink bills can add up fast if you aren’t paying attention. The bigger the family the bigger the potential savings.
The other factor is the waistline effect. A 21 oz Coca-Cola has 210 calories and when I dine out I normally go through at least two and sometimes as many as four. That is 210-840 calories not even including any food. This means I could be drinking more calories than I am eating in a meal which is a scary thought. To be honest I had never really thought about how many calories I actually drink at a meal and never have been (or probably will be) a calorie counter, but after researching for this post it did open my eyes.
Now I do want to make this clear, if you love your drinks when you go out then you should continue getting them if you can afford it. This is just a choice I made because drinks aren’t that important to me. I would also like to point out this isn’t a unbreakable rule. If there is a day I want to get a drink I will get it because I can afford it. You must remember that personal finance is personal! Do what works for you. I hope I have opened your eyes to a possibility and if you like it I suggest you try it for a while.
What do you normally order to drink when you go out to eat? Has this post made you rethink it at all?