How to Support Local Restaurants without Blowing Your Budget


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This past year has taken its toll on a lot of people and businesses. One industry that’s suffered a lot is the restaurant industry. With hundreds of restaurant businesses closing their doors, it’s important to help support your favorite local eateries so that they can continue to serve their delicious meals and treats to the community.

For many of us, eating out is a special treat. As good a cook as you may be, somehow a meal in a restaurant tastes better than a home cooked meal – perhaps it’s because you don’t have to cook it or do the dishes! The downside is, that even though you are helping support a local business by spending your money there, eating out can get expensive.

Here are some simple tips and tricks to help you save money at restaurants this year while also supporting local – without blowing your budget.

  1. Plan to have leftovers. For some, asking for a to-go box at the start of the meal, helps ensure they don’t overeat, but it’s also a great way to make two meals out of one. Plus, no need to plan lunch or dinner for the next day!
  2. Use coupons if available. Some restaurants send coupons in the mail, over email, or even have them on their website. It’s a great way to save a few bucks while still enjoying your favorite restaurant more often.
  3. Consider doing lunch instead. Going out to lunch is a great way to break up your day and still enjoy your favorite eatery without paying more expensive dinner prices.
  4. Skip the beverages. You can save at least a few dollars per visit if you skip coffee, tea, soda, or alcoholic drinks and just stick to water instead.
  5. Skip or share the appetizer. Consider skipping the costly appetizer if you go out to eat or consider sharing an appetizer with the table vs. ordering your own. Even at $10, appetizers can add up to be a costly addition to your eating out experience if you order them at every visit.
  6. Share a meal. If the portion sizes are big, consider sharing an entrée with someone at your table. Even if you need to order an extra side or salad, it can be a great alternative to ordering 2 full sized meals. 
  7. Order it to go. When you order your food to go, there is less temptation to order costly drinks, appetizers, and desserts. While you should still tip the person who brings out your food, you don’t need to tip as much as you do while eating at the restaurant.
  8. Go on slower days and avoid holidays. The beginning of the week is typically slower for most restaurants and they may offer more enticing specials to get people in the door. Holidays are known for having more costly meal specials or pre-fixed menu options.
  9. Look for kids eat free options. Some restaurants offer deals where kids eat free with the purchase of an entrée. This can be a great option if your kids like to go out to eat but typically only eat like a bird.
  10. Go early. Take advantage of early bird specials or happy hour deals by visiting a restaurant before the dinner rush. Make sure you check the times and any restrictions before you order.

Following these simple tips can help you support a local business and still keep your budget in check. Make sure you always plan ahead for a tip as well. If you are going to eat out, you should be prepared to tip at least 20% on your bill’s total. You should also make sure that eating out is built into your budget each month so you know exactly what you can afford and where you are spending your money. Bon Appetite!


Laura Murphy
Branch Manager – Torrington