Everyone loves dining out. It’s fun, relaxing and extremely convenient. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive. Here are some tips for saving some money when eating out at a restaurant:
1) Choose lunch over dinner
If your schedule permits, choose to dine out for lunch instead of dinner. The lunch crowd is often made up of office workers on a tight schedule and a tight budget – and restaurants know this. Dine at this time of day and you’ll be able to enjoy lunch specials at great prices.
2) Split your meal in two
Most restaurants offer food portions that are fit for more than one person. Save on your meal and split an entrée with your spouse. Young kids rarely finish their food – so have them share an entrée, as well! If you don’t feel it’s quite enough food, split an appetizer too.
3) Ask for a doggie bag
Is the size of your entrée too much for you? One trick is to separate your meal into half as soon as it arrives, then take the other half home for your lunch or dinner the next day. Restaurant leftovers are just as delicious the following day and you end up with two meals for the price of one.
4) Drink water
Drinks can definitely help rack up a bill if you’re not careful. Skip the soda or iced tea and choose to drink house water instead. If you want to drink something other than water, then ask your spouse if he or she wants to share a drink with you.
5) Have dessert somewhere else
A tiny dessert can cost quite a bit at a restaurant. If you’re on a limited budget, then settle your bill and head somewhere else for dessert. Why not satisfy your sweet tooth at a nearby fast food joint or bakery? Often you’ll get way more for your money.
6) Don’t split the tab
If you’re out with a group of friends or co-workers, then avoid splitting the bill evenly. Ask for your own bill so you won’t need to fund your friend’s beer while you drink your glass of water. If the entire group is sharing a bill, then beg off and say you need to leave a little earlier than everyone else.
7) Pay in cash
The next time you dine out, try paying for the entire meal in cash. You’ll be more watchful of the items you order, and you’ll also be forced to stick to a certain budget.
8) Use a Groupon
You can find lots of great local restaurant deals on Groupon where you can often save up to 50% off of your bill. I use Groupon deals quite a bit for several of my favorite restaurants and it’s been a great way find new places to try out.
9) Always leave a tip
Yes, we know that you’re trying to save money – but don’t save money at your server’s expense. If your server provided you with excellent service, then let him or her know you appreciated it!
Keep both your stomach and wallet happy. Try some (or all) of these tips the next time you dine out and you might even find yourself dining out more often!