Restaurant savings: Make eating out affordable!

Eating out can be very hard on your budget. As a general rule, it's more frugal to cook and eat at home, but we all like to (or are forced by circumstances, such as travel) to eat out once on a while. So, relax! Sit back and enjoy being waited on and leaving the dishes for someone else!

restaurant savings
Here are some restaurant savings tips for making eating out a more frugal experience:

  • Get two for the price of one. If you go to a restaurant with your partner, order one dinner and split it. Restaurants typically serve way too much, which is expensive and unhealthy (if you try to finish it). If you can’t agree on what to order, get two orders but eat only half and save the other half for lunch the next day. You will have two meals for the price of one, and you will avoid overeating!

  • Go at lunchtime. Many restaurants have lower priced options at lunchtime. The serving sizes are usually more realistic, too.) This is a good way to try a new place if you are not sure how much you will like it, or to satisfy your craving for a very expensive cuisine that is not normally within your budget.

  • Get a discount.Some places give discounts to the employees of certain companies or to senior citizens or college students. Do some research and see what discounts are available in your area.

  • Try saving with coupons . You can often find restaurant coupons in the coupon section of the Sunday newspaper. You can also sign up for email updates from your favorite restaurants to get special deals and coupons for discounts.

  • Special days. Many restaurants have special family days when kids eat free or at a discount. Do your research ahead of time and take advantage of these savings.

  • Choose an affordable restaurant. There are many medium-priced restaurants that offer very good meals that are less expensive. While there are many ways to save on eating out, one of the best tips for restaurant savings is to start with a place that doesn't charge an arm and a leg to begin with. Often, authentic ethnic restaurants fall into this category - I have found that small, family-run Mexican or Chinese restaurants are almost always very inexpensive while having much better food than the Americanized big-name chains that specialize in those cuisines.

  • Drink water. Restaurants make a killing on soft drinks and alcohol! I have noticed that when we get drinks at a restaurant, they can add up to as much as 40% of our total bill! Go to a restaurant to enjoy the food and drink water. You can serve your whole family soda at home for the price of one glass at a restaurant.

  • Fast food. If you are eating out for the sake of convenience, fast food restaurants can be a frugal choice. Many of them have now added salads and other healthy options to their standard menus, so you can usually eat fairly well at a reasonable price.

  • Go without the kids. To enjoy a meal with your spouse without the kids (all they want is a cheeseburger, anyway, right?) arrange date nights by trading babysitting with another couple.

  • Skip dessert. Like drinks, dessert is often a big money-maker for restaurants.Think about whether that piece of cake is really worth $7. to you - you may decide that you would be just as happy stopping for a carton of ice cream the way home. Or maybe that after-dinner mint is all you really need....

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