5 Ways to Save Money when You’re Out over Mealtime

5 Ways to Save Money when You’re Out over Mealtime

save-mealtime-out

We were running to town for some building supplies and several other quick stops.  It was only mid-morning, but my realist mind knew that by the time we had made the half hour drive there and done our errands and shopping we’d end up being out over lunch time.

Unintentionally staying out longer than we planned would be the perfect scenario for us to “need” to eat out.  We love eating out, but this wasn’t one of the times we were choosing to spend the time or money on a nice meal.

So what can be done to make the damage be as little as possible?  

5 Ways to Save when You’re Out over Mealtime

Take snacks with you.  Better yet would be a complete pack lunch, but that didn’t happen today.  I did grab some cheese sticks, granola bars, graham crackers, and cheerios to take along.

Pre-decide your (minimal) order.  This is the same concept as going to the grocery store with a list.  Then when the cashier asks if you would like to upsize that, or add a _____, you’re not left making a last-minute decision under pressure.

Go through the drive thru.  We find that when we dine in, our order may start very small.  But when we’re not totally full yet, and food is at the front counter just a few steps away… It’s all too easy to come back with a sheepish grin and that $1 ice cream treat that we’d been gazing at on the poster for the entire meal!  I also feel bad about dirtying a whole table, using multiple high chairs, and the store’s restrooms, just for a $1.50 order of chicken nuggets!  Maybe that’s just me.  Going through the drive thru?  It’s a lot more comfortable if you’re just ordering one small item.

Skip the coffee.  What could be better when the kids are fast asleep in their carseats than to pick up coffees for the drive home?  That $5 frappe would sabotage your cheap fast food survival goal.

Limit your time out so you’re at least not out over TWO meals!  Other than sometimes on a road trip, we never eat out for multiple meals in one day.  If you know you need to be out longer, plan ahead enough to for sure pack the rest of your meals and snacks.

After eating the snacks we brought along, we got by for $3.81.  The kids split a 10-piece chicken nuggets ($1.50 + tax advertised on the digital sign at BK), and Ben and I each had a McDouble (2 for $1 special).

We were by no means full, but it held us over until we got home.

And all for less than the price of a fancy coffee.