When Eating Out is More than Just Burning Money

by Justin on September 26, 2017

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We’ve heard it all before- “eating out is just a waste of money,” “you can make that at home for have the price,” “you’re being charged for convenience,” and the list can go on and on. Every personal finance expert will tell you that eating out is one of the easiest ways to upset your monthly budget, especially when you do it often.

Though it’s true that dining experiences can be expensive, it’s not fair to completely rule out every contact with a restaurant as detrimental to your personal finances. Though it certainly doesn’t help, there are situations in which eating out makes sense, even to those who are on a strict spending budget.

Celebrations

Anniversaries, birthdays, promotions and holidays are popular reasons for why people decide to frequent restaurants. Hosting at home is not always practical (or cheap), so going out for food is often a smart alternative to having a party at home. And if it’s a communal holiday or birthday celebration, your guests might pay for themselves or at least pitch in to cover the cost, something that doesn’t always happen if you decide to have a party at home. Plus, getting special ingredients that you don’t already have in your pantry, and having to buy supplies that you are short on, can make your home based affair more expensive than going out to a restaurant.

Traveling

Making food on the road is already a challenge, especially if you are craving a warm meal. There’s only so much room to store food, even if it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and usually cars and hotel rooms don’t have built in stoves or ovens to work with. However, instead of feeling cheated and taken advantage of, use this opportunity to eat out to learn about the culture of the place you are traveling to, even if it’s just a few cities away. Try succulent BBQ dishes in the South, the fresh seafood in Cape Cod, and when in Canada, try one of the best steakhouse restaurants in Montreal, a reputation forged over the course of our 56 years of gastronomic expertise! It’s a way to experience the place you are in and should be worked into the budget during the planning process.

Entertainment

Going out for a movie, visiting an amusement park, or playing an escape room are all experiences that we are willing to pay for since they are fun and create great memories. If you treat yourself to a breakfast or dinner out everyone once in a while, making it an exciting event, there is no harm in it. Yes, it will cost money, but so do most experiences, and at least this way you are substituting it for what your homemade meal would cost rather than that plus whatever other entertainment you choose. If you do choose to treat your meal at a restaurant as an experience or entertainment, be conscious of what you select off the menu. Try something you had never eaten before or get inspiration for your home cooked meals by sampling a cuisine you know little about.

Emergencies

Life happens. It’s that simple. Sometimes there’s an emergency and you have no option other than to go out for a meal. It could be a broken fridge, a power outage, unexpected guests, or even a medical emergency. In this case, it’s always good to have a list of places that you had been wanting to eat at. See which price point fits you best in the situation, or in some cases, proximity, and go for it! This is precisely why it’s essential to have some extra cash at home for when takeout is your best option or you need to slip out for a meal. Sure, you are paying for convenience, but that’s exactly what you need at the time.

If you are looking to save some money, eating in restaurants or ordering take out is an easy expense to cut out. However, that doesn’t mean that you will never darken the doorway of a dining establishment ever again. It simply means that you have to limit it in terms of frequency and the above rules are good guidelines for when it’s worth spending the money to enjoy a lovely meal out.

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