Financial aid that is welcome, but, not enough in the long run
As part of its mini-budget presented Thursday, the Québec government offered a fin...
You love to eat out, but find it (too) expensive? Don’t miss out on this pleasure! Instead, adopt the following 10 strategies that can help you digest the bill!
But first, some figures. Data from Statistics Canada compiled by Québec’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) reveals that in 2019, Québec households spent an average of 13% of their annual budget on food, including alcohol. Three quarters of this spending was at the grocery store and one quarter at restaurants. This means that restaurants account for a significant portion of our food expenses and budget.
Let’s see what we can do to get the most out of small and large meals when eating out, without breaking our budget.
This tip may seem simplistic, but since even the smallest meal on the run can cost $10 to $15 per person, make sure the money you spend provides an equivalent amount of pleasure. So, rather than stopping at a fast food chain to satisfy your hunger even though you don’t really appreciate the meal, why not pack a lunch?
If you reserve restaurants for special occasions, you can spoil yourself more.
If eating out is a way to socialize with friends, why not opt for breakfast or lunch rather than dinner? You’ll end up paying a fraction of the cost. Do you really prefer going out for dinner? Some restaurants offer discounts early in the week. Take advantage of these promotional offers!
As we all know, cocktails and wine add a lot to the restaurant bill. So why not split the difference and have an aperitif at home, followed by wine at the restaurant? Or wait until you get home to enjoy a dessert and a digestif?
Often, at the end of a delicious meal, we feel generous and are tempted to press 18% or 20% on the payment terminal when adding the tip. Remember that 15% of the bill before taxes is the norm, in other words, three times the amount of GST on the bill. The 15% displayed on the payment terminal corresponds to the total amount of the bill WITH taxes.
Obviously, it’s expensive to have eyes bigger than your belly when eating out. Most of the time, one starter is enough, no need for a second one. You can also have a starter as a main course. And if the main course is hearty, why not share it with another person? The bill will be slimmer, as will your figure. Plus, you’ll avoid food waste.
You can save a lot of money on the bill at certain restaurants thanks to FADOQ discounts and certain sites such as Groupon groupon.ca and Tuango tuango.ca, which promote good discounts in many establishments, for all tastes. Other restaurants offer promotional codes, points, free products and more. Do a little research!
While picking up food at a restaurant and enjoying it at home may be less appealing than dining on site, there are significant savings to be had if you adopt this strategy, for instance on drinks and tips. And it’s even cheaper if you order directly from the restaurant and pick up the food yourself, rather than using a delivery platform.
Can’t take another bite, but your plate is still half full? Don’t be embarrassed: ask for a doggy bag. This way, you will pay back the cost of the meal by eating your leftovers for lunch the next day.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, do not accept the waiter’s wine suggestion without knowing the price of the bottle. To ensure that you stay within your budget, take the time to consult the wine list to select a bottle that matches your tastes and the maximum amount you feel is reasonable to pay. And drinking lots of water during the evening will remove the urge to order a second bottle of wine.
Just as you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, you shouldn’t be ravenous when you go to a restaurant, otherwise you may end up ordering extra food. At $10 or $15 a pop, one more dish makes a big difference. Have a snack or a handful of nuts a little before you leave for the restaurant. This will help you avoid excesses and their effects on the bill.
On that note, bon appétit!