Five Fine Tips for People on a (Tight) Budget Who Still Want to Eat Out Once in a While
I'm a writer, here a word meaning one broke-ass dude. That said, broke-ass dudes still have to eat, and they can even still eat out on occasion if they plan the trip well. Today I'm going to pass along five of the little tips that I've developed that will allow you to enjoy the luxury of not heating up your own mac and cheese on the stove.
Scott Sanchez via Wikipedia
Tip the Pre-Tax Amount: It's still a hotly debated matter of etiquette, true, but when every dollar counts, feel free to tip the cost of your meal before tax is applied. Granted, this saves you a truly minuscule amount in theory. If the pre-tax meal is $30,f your 20 percent tip is $6, whereas the total with tax is $32.48 and the tip is $6.50. Hardly seems worth the effort, does it?
However, calculating the tip exactly generally keeps you from rounding up your tip to a nice whole number (or down if you're an asshole). That means you keep things exact. If that sounds a little overly thrifty or penny-pinching, doing complicated arithmetic to save what usually amounts to at most $2, then I kind of wonder why you clicked on the link to this story in the first place.
That said, do not skimp on the percentage. If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out. Period.
Order Water. Just Water: Next time you eat out, look at the receipt and see what they're charging you for a fountain soda at the end of the day. I have never understood how we expect McDonald's to include a drink in a numbered meal but are expected to pay extra at a restaurant even though they involve the exact same amount of ingredients and effort.
Seriously, I've seen sodas in restaurants at as high as $3 each. I can get a bottle of wine from Kroger for that price. Granted, it's not good wine, but your Coke isn't exactly fine nectar either. Order water, which is free in most places, and if you're on a budget, never order alcohol in a restaurant. The mark-up is worse than on popcorn at the movie theater, and at least in that instance you get to see a freakin' movie.
Share Entrées: Have you ever really considered how incredibly enormous American portions of food are? Medieval knights sometimes went into battle with shields smaller than your average chicken-fried steak. It's no wonder we're such a fat country. Every meal is like a dare.
If you happen to share tastes with your dining partner, then seriously consider ordering one entrée, with maybe an extra side to also split. If you're dining alone, immediately cut your meal in half and ask for a to-go box. It's easier to justify spending $10 to $15 on a meal if you get two meals out of it. Plus, you'll do wonders for your calorie intake and self-restraint. Some restaurants don't allow sharing, and you should avoid those because they are clearly people with way too high an opinion of their food.
On a similar note, never order your own dessert. There's almost no place in Houston that serves a realistic one-person desert.