It sucks when you have to decline the invites to eat out because you’re broke. Reduce your FOMO with these smart tips to eat out on a budget.
‘Sustainable seafood sourced locally is often more affordable on menus,’ says Kerry Kilpin, executive chef at Steenberg Wine Estate’s Bistro Sixteen82. The line fish of the day, for example, is typically well priced. ‘Choose your cuts of meat wisely. In a good restaurant, a sirloin is a tender, more flavoursome cut and a lot cheaper than a fillet.’
Going in with friends is also a nifty way to cut your restaurant bill: ‘Share starters, order a main and then share desserts,’ offers Kilpin. ‘You’ll get to enjoy the whole experience but save on the cost.’ Other ideas: order tapas-style. ‘Choose a few plates to share with the table. You’ll sample a wider array of flavours but can then split the cost.’
And stick to seasonal and local produce: ‘Imported ingredients are more expensive and are often added to menus to keep tourists happy rather than because they’re necessarily the best flavours or offerings,’ adds Kilpin.
Splitting the bill? Tell your friends upfront you’re ordering cheap to keep costs down, and that you’d prefer not to do a 50/50 split when the bill arrives. That way, you don’t carry the costs of your BFF’s expensive taste, and everyone’s got the same expectations before you order.
Order Drinks the Savvy Way
‘Craft beers and gins, though trendy, can be overpriced,’ advises Kilpin. ‘I love swapping a pricey cocktail for Aperol Spritz, for example. It’s got the feel of a cocktail, but often without the price tag.’
Ordering water? Always specify with the waiter that you want tap water. ‘And substitute a can of soda water for 500ml of sparkling water,’ adds Kilpin. ‘For example, if you’re ordering vodka, lime and soda, swap the soda for sparkling water and save half of the 500ml bottle for when you order a second.’
Always check if the restaurant you’re heading to allows corkage. If you’re drinking a whole bottle, bringing your own and paying corkage is almost always cheaper. Another easy option: alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to keep your tab lower.
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