Almost everyone increased their spend on take-out groceries in 2020 – and for good reason. With restaurants closed for indoor eateries and grocery stores and with unpredictable staffing and inventory issues, many consumers have chosen to order the majority of their meals.
Now that things are slowly returning to normal you may be wondering how to adjust your budget accordingly. We'll show you how to find the right amount for your takeout and eat-in budget and give you some strategies that can save you money on orders at your favorite restaurants.
How Much Should You Be Spending on Food and Take Out?
It is difficult to come up with an exact recipe for how much to spend on takeout as it will largely depend on the specifics of your budget and financial situation. In general, your grocery budget, including groceries and eating out, should be between 10% and 15% of your income. Families with multiple children may spend more. So don't worry if your percentage exceeds the recommendation.
If you're not sure how much you're spending on groceries, go over your transactions over the past few months and calculate the percentage.
John Bovard, CFP of Incline your investment advisor Consumers who have no credit card debt and who invest 20% or more of their income in a retirement account can spend 10% of their after-tax income on take-out.
Ways to save on take-away
Would you like to keep your takeaway tradition and still feel like you're spending too much? Here are some tips to save money when ordering from your favorite restaurants:
Pick up personally
Everyone knows shipping costs add a huge extra cost to your total bill, but you may not know how big the difference actually is. A New York Times article found that the same sandwich at Subway costs between 25% and 91% more when delivered, depending on the specific delivery app.
A $ 20 order can cost anywhere from $ 5 to $ 18.20 more by the time it is delivered. The costs are usually higher on weekends and public holidays.
Look for specials
Plan your snack around restaurant specials. Follow restaurants on social media to see when discounts are available, e.g. B. Oysters at half price on Sunday or happy hour offers. When you pick up the food, ask someone behind the counter when the best deals are on.
Restaurants often print coupon codes or discounts on their receipts. So don't forget to check them out.
Use discounted gift cards
Many restaurants and fast food places sell gift cards and often do special sales, such as selling a $ 50 gift card for $ 45. This is especially popular during the holiday season.
Wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam & # 39; s Club regularly sell discounted gift cards to popular chains. For example, you can purchase $ 100 gift cards at Costco for just $ 80 at California Pizza Kitchen or Dominos gift cards worth $ 75 for just $ 65.
You can also buy restaurant gift cards online from GiftCardGranny or CardCashwho sell gift cards for up to 10% off.
Skip a dinner
Dinner is the most expensive meal of the day. So choose breakfast or lunch if you eat out. If you go for takeout a few times a week, use one for dinner and the other for brunch or lunch.
Some restaurants have loyalty programs that you can join with an email address or phone number, while others have an old-fashioned punch card system. Keep an eye on these rewards so you can cash them out before they expire.
If you are dining with a group of people, check to see if the restaurant offers catering, which may be cheaper than ordering individual starters. Everyone has to eat the same thing, but it's a great way to save money.
Sign up for restaurant emails
Both local and national restaurants often have email newsletters that you can join for additional discounts. For example, my favorite Mexican restaurant keeps sending me emails with a 10% or 15% discount to take away.
Create a separate label for these emails so you can sort them out before ordering takeout. You can also add reminders to your phone to take advantage of the discounts before they expire.
Use a reward credit card
Many credit cards offer points or cashback when you eat out, and some allow you to redeem points for restaurant gift cards. Check the rewards policy for your current credit cards to see which ones to use for restaurants.
If you don't have a meal rewards card, consider opening a new card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2% cashback for restaurants and one year of DashPass, the DoorDash subscription service with $ 0 delivery charges.
Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders receive 3% cashback on meals, receive a free DashPass for one year, and $ 60 in DoorDash credit for the first year.
Most restaurant reward cards have an annual fee, typically around $ 95. So don't open any unless the cashback rewards exceed the fee. Some card companies waive the fee for the first year so you can see if you are earning enough rewards to make up the fee. Some reward credit cards also allow you to redeem points for restaurant gift cards.
Buy a subscription to food delivery
If you don't have easy access to transportation, ordering delivery may be your best option. In this case, you should sign up for a membership with Food Delivery. DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats all offer a monthly subscription for around $ 10. Every subscription comes with free shipping and other specials.
Before you sign up, calculate how often you will order and see if a monthly membership makes sense. If you have a neighbor or roommate, consider sharing a subscription with them to save even more money.
Many of these services have a free trial period that allows you to estimate how often you will actually use them. Choose the app with the largest number of restaurants that you like.
Use a browser extension
Browser extensions like Rakuten offer cashback when you order from delivery sites like Grubhub and Seamless. Simply click the Rakuten button in the top right corner of your browser when visiting any of these websites. With eligible orders, you will receive up to 11% cashback.
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Zina Kumok (121 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she repaid $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.