Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Eating out economically

A little while ago, I blogged about how it's so much more economical to eat in rather than eat out. It just costs more because you're paying for the overheads associated with setting up and running an eating establishment. Plus if you are anything like us, or even like many other people around the world these days, you'll be wanting to look for ways to be more economical and still be able to enjoy yourself with a meal out. That said, I've come across something that made me think that there is indeed a way for people to eat out and still not spend a lot of money.

I'm sure many of you would have caught on to the coupon trend that is all over the Internet now, with places like LivingSocial, Groupon, Cudo, etc., offering deals of just about anything, from photography workshops to boot camp training, sailing lessons to makeup workshops.

One thing that pops up over and over again are restaurant and cafe deals. Lots and lots of them.

Most of these deals offer you a coupon for either one or two people, sometimes up to four people and it's usually at least 50% off the set price for the meal.

I understand that the restaurants (and all the other companies participating) do this in order to get the potential customer to visit and then hopefully due to their positive experience there, will return as a regular customer and pay full price for meals and such. However, if you're a bargain hunter, don't mind trying lots of new places to eat, don't have any qualms about customer loyalty and things like that, you can take advantage of these deals to enjoy meals out at very economical prices. For example, check out some of the things that are being offered now:

The variety is amazing, and if you shop around, there's lots of deals from many, many of these coupon sites to choose from. Of course, the deals often only last a day or two, so if you see something you think you are interested in, you need to jump in and commit right away, and then take your time using it. Make sure you keep in mind the expiry day though, because these things do expire.

My own experience has been great, but in the last year, I have only taken advantage of a few of these things and for me, I am always terrible at remembering to redeem them, so I almost always redeem them right before they expire. The things that I find difficult are that I feel like I'm being forced to do something at a specific time and I can't be spontaneous, and remembering to redeem them in time so that they don't expire and I haven't wasted my money.

I've tried two different deals now, both of which are places within walking distance of my home (you can sign up for specific deals based on your preferred location) and both of them places I would never have tried if not for the deal. I've enjoyed both of those experiences.

One was a wine bar that had opened recently. The food was fantastic and (again!) very good deal for the money I paid. Definitely a place I would visit again if I had the hankering for a wine bar experience or if I had friends visiting from out of town and I wanted a cool place to take them too.

Another was a small cafe that caters mainly to the day time office worker crowd. They are open evenings for dinner and in the mornings for breakfast. The food was great and there was lots of it. I ended up bringing home 2/3 of my main meal. Since they serve breakfast and The Boy and I like going out for morning walks in the weekend, we think we will go back to try their breakfast menu. There was a Brazilian breakfast item on the menu that looked very good.

I don't know that we would do many more of these since we do prefer doing our own cooking and eating in, but this is a good way to share an evening with a few friends and discover something new.

Happy eating out and do let me know what you think, if you ever decide to try this.

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