Dining out takes a big bite of cash

Author: ME

Published at: 10/27/2016 3:52:55 PM

Dining Out Takes A Big Bite Out Of Cash

One in three of us are spending more on food-related trends than five years ago – and it’s eating into our finances.

That’s the latest research finding from ME, which also noted Gen Y Australians have particularly increased their food spending, with a 43% rise over the last five years.

Two out of five Aussies are ‘foodies’

The fact is, food has become the hot new hobby. And no matter whether it’s roving food trucks, online delivery services or simply a craving to try the latest eatery in your patch, 44% of Australians see themselves as a ‘foodie’.

Maybe it’s the endless menu of cooking shows dished up on the small screen that is whetting our appetites and encouraging us to think beyond meat and three veg. Whatever the case, trying out new foods and flavours is a good thing as it can mean embracing healthier eating and more exotic dining options.

But just as our foodie culture calls for a bit of discipline to avoid an expanding waistline, it also calls for some fiscal restraint.

Have your cake and eat it too

More than half of us (62%) don’t have a food budget, and among those who do, 42% often or always exceed it, particularly Gen Ys (50%), who say they spent more than planned because they “enjoy going out, socialising and trying new things”.

The thing is, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too – enjoying great new dining experiences plus wholesome value for money. The key is to consider how much of your financial pie you’re happy to allocate to food, and then aim to stick to that limit.

Set a dining budget

Setting a weekly dining budget really is the key ingredient that lets you manage food spending wisely. It sets a benchmark so you know when the cost of dining out is chewing through too much of your hard-earned cash, and if you blow the budget one week, it’s not the end of the world. Just enjoy some cheap eats or try your hand at cooking at home, until your budget is back in the black.

Dine smart and save

If you're looking to cut costs, it’s not necessary to sacrifice dining out altogether. Just try a few budget-friendly options to enjoy maximum value while still tempting your taste buds:

- Look for BYO dining options – alcohol can really bump up the cost of dining out.
- Try an “early bird” dining special with dinner before 6 pm.
- Head to the latest restaurant for lunch – it’s often cheaper than dinner.
- When ordering, look for menu choices that would be hard to make at home.
- For truly authentic and budget-friendly tastes of other cultures, bypass the CBD diners and tourist hot spots and head to the burbs.

How you pay for new food experiences matters too. Choosing a low rate credit card with zero annual fees and a hearty serve of interest-free days lets you stack up your plate without starving your hip pocket.