My usual dining out methodology failed me. It failed me so badly that it left me with a significant bill, a lack of satisfaction, and wondering if I needed to alter my strategy.
I went out for dinner recently after an important event. I’m a great cook, so my usual dining out philosophy is to order either something I’ve never tried before, or don’t normally make at home. After a quick scan of the menu, I decided on the twin lobster tails. I love seafood, and don’t have lobster often. My wife went with a ribeye steak, and we thought we had devised a masterful plan to swap half her steak for one of my lobster tails. You can’t go wrong with surf and turf, right?
Unfortunately, my lobster tails were underwhelming and my wife’s steak was just OK. Each meal carried a bill of $32.
We were talking on the way home, and found we shared the sentiment the food wasn’t worth the price. We had both noticed other things being served to tables nearby that were much less expensive, and may have actually been more satisfying:
- Flatbreads : much like a thin crust pizza but sometimes with fancy toppings, the ones we saw go by were cheesy, smelled delicious, and were huge. We could have split one for $12.
- Chicken Wings: Several sauces were available, and a single order for less than $15 was a heaping platfe full.
- Fish Sandwich: Battered and fried walleye with a mound of fries for $12. I love a great fish sandwich, and the one I saw go by our table looked delicious.
- Burger : I didn’t see one in the dining room, but for $12 it would have been another great option.
New Dining Out Strategy
This experience has led me to revisit my dining out strategy:
- Cooking at home is my first choice. I like cooking, and what I make at home is going to be better and cheaper than dining out almost every time.
- If I do go out to eat for a special occasion or for convenience, look for something that I’ve never had before. If don’t or can’t cook it at home, this provides an opportunity to try something new!
- Here’s the new part. If I can’t find something I can’t or don’t make at home OR if the price would make me cringe if it turned out horribly, keep looking. Find something I know I’ll like that will minimize the bill. Look at the appetizer or sandwich part of the menu for the best bargain.
The food we had dining out wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great. It definitely wasn’t worth the price we paid. Had I followed my new strategy I likely would have ordered something much less expensive that would have satisfied my appetite, and left more money in my pocket.
How about you, EOD nation, what’s your dining out strategy to save money?