Because of the cutback in people's dining out with all the economic turmoil we're in, restaurants are making some very good offers to lure diners into their establishments. Our children are grown and have families of their own, so now I find that sometimes it is less expensive for us to eat out than to prepare some meals at home. Our appetites (as well as our income) have shrunk since we've become senior citizens, so we often share an entree. We usually order water to drink, better for you and you save quite a bit when drinks are usually at least a dollar or more.
If you take the food out to eat it's cheaper you get more for your money. You can enjoy it more at home or in the car if you are on the road, good luck.
Back in 1978, I took a bookkeeping for small businesses course with my brother who was considering a business. I set up a practice set of accounts for my house, dividing expenses into categories and only told my children to tell me what they spent to the penny, just to track it. At the end of 3 months I discovered I was being as careful as possible, and the only area where we could have cut down was eating out, though we didn't really spend that much. But we didn't eat junk food, my kids ate at the restaurant where I worked which served very nice quality food, prepared from scratch, I worked long shifts and couldn't always find food on sale which was suitable for cook and leave meals which I usually did for the kids. So we ate out once in a while, and it was okay with me, and with my budget sense.
I have found this to be true as well. Sometimes my two little ones and I share a "value meal" with drinks we got from home at the park. We make it a little picnic, no left overs, and we get to chose beverages we really like and will all finish (not what the restaurant offers in arbitrary sizes). Maybe we'll split and apple from home as well, or I might bring three bananas for us. If I purchase too much meat I cannot store it my small freezer, and it just goes to waste. This way we feel indulged, I get a break from scrambling to please them, and sharing is something fun we do together.
When each person has his or her own entree, the tip is easy to figure: 15% for standard service, 20% for exemplary service, 25% if you've just won the lottery and are too cheap to leave a $100 bill. ;)
If you share an entree, the tip should be about 30-40%. That's because it's just as much work for the wait staff to deal with two restaurant patrons when ordering one dish as when they order two. For that matter, if you go out and have only coffee, you should still leave at least $2 tip, because the person has to keep coming back to refill, and it's just as labor-intensive on the waiter as if you'd ordered an actual meal.
Also look for restaurants with Lunch Specials. Buy the food during their lunch time and then just reheat for dinner. Chinese Restaurants always have great lunch specials. They give you enough food to last for two meals!
Hm...with 5 kids this doesn't apply!
I'm sorry, I must disagree with the statement that if you order food "to go" it eliminates the need to tip. Most of the time a server is having to package your take-out and is spending quite a bit of their time to provide this service to you. In my opinion, (from years of working in a restaurant,) preparing a meal for take out is just as labor intensive as if you were to eat it at the restaurant. Please give this some thought.
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