We all love meeting friends for drinks, taking our sweetheart out to dinner, or catching up with family over Sunday brunch. The best part is, we don’t have to cook or clean up!
Sometimes dining out at restaurants can pose challenges though. For instance, what if you’re at a business lunch and you’ve forgotten who picks up the check? Or you’re on the road and there’s nothing for miles but fast food restaurants? Or you’ve scheduled dinner with your friends, but you only have a $30 budget?
How can you balance a good time with good decision making? With these simple tips for every occasion, dining out can be simple, fun, and guilt-free!
Girls’ (or Guys’) Night Out
Okay, so this might be the toughest situation for both your wallet and your waistline. Who doesn’t love meeting friends for a night out – drinks, food, and good conversation? Sometimes these evenings can turn into long nights of excess though – we’ve all been there. Too many drinks, too much food, and too much money spent. It is possible to strike a balance with these three easy rules:
- Keep the venue casual. Skip the high-end steakhouse and the fancy wine bar and opt for something more moderate. Your local bar and grill or your favorite Thai place is just fine for a night out – and if the prices are mid-range, everyone in your group can be comfortable ordering something.
- Don’t order drinks at dinner. Alcoholic drinks will double or sometimes triple the cost of your dinner. To stay hydrated, healthy, and happy when you see your check, take a pass on the cocktails and order water. If you’re going to a bar or club later, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get your drink on. If not, order one drink while waiting for your table and keep your bill (and your calories) lower!
- Plan ahead. Make a decision with your group as to where you’ll be dining and make a reservation if you can. This will help you plan what time you’re eating – the later you eat, the less time your body has to burn calories before you hit the hay. Storage, anyone? No thanks! If possible, look up the menu online and choose what you want to order. Find the nutritional information for that meal and see if there are substitutes on the menu – for example, a side salad instead of those fries!
These are just 3 short rules to keep in mind, but there are countless ways to have a great time dining out with friends that won’t leave you cringing in the morning!
Whether it’s lunch, dinner, or just drinks, there are varying levels of complexity in the etiquette for eating in a professional context. But really all you have to remember is this: the host is in charge. If you were invited to a business meal, let the person who invited you take the lead on where to eat, where to sit, and whether to order coffee and dessert after your meal. The host is also responsible for the check! If you are the person hosting, you need to plan ahead; make reservations, check people’s dietary restrictions and preferences, ensure your guests are comfortable, and of course, pick up the check.
Fueling Up on the Road
Eating on the road is never easy: limited choices, tight schedules, and travel budgets. Whether you’re flying or driving, the break from your normal routine could cause you to make unhealthy or expensive choices. Keep in mind these simple facts for eating on the road:
- Choose your stops carefully. If you always stop at fast-food restaurants, you’re always going to have to choose from a fast-food menu. Try stopping at a grocery store to pick up a packaged salad or sandwich from the deli, fruit, and water. Avoid high-sugar, processed, and fried foods; especially when you’re travelling, as they can leave you feeling groggy and weighed down.
- Drink water! When the body is dehydrated, it sends us signals that our brains can interpret not only as thirst, but actually as hunger. Our bodies need water to operate, and when we don’t drink enough, we can feel tired and depleted, even anxious and moody!
- Pack healthy snacks. Eating 4 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day is considered better for your metabolism. Bring a cooler and fill it with raw fruit and veggies, hummus, and hardboiled eggs. Or throw a bag of nuts and dried fruit in your purse if you’re travelling light. These types of protein-packed, nutrient-rich snacks will keep you feeling full so you’ll be less likely to grab that bag of chips!
These tips aren’t just for travelling – they can be applied to an everyday commute and workday at the office, too. Putting those standards into practice can certainly help to keep you feeling energized for whatever you have planned.
Dining out is a fun way to get together with friends and family. Ideally, we get out of our daily grind for a little while, enjoy good food and great service, and have the opportunity to try new dishes and mingle with people. As with any other enjoyable pastime, it’s easy to go overboard. Stick to your healthy diet plan, respect your weekly budget, and feel at-ease when you’re at a business gathering. Always remember these super easy tips for casual, business, and travel scenarios, and you’ll continue to enjoy dining out!
If you’re interested in what goes on behind the scenes at restaurants, want to learn proper food handling techniques and food safety, or maybe you’re thinking about getting a job in a restaurant or bar, check out our Employee Food Handling Certification!