I always enjoy dining out at a restaurant. After a long day or week at work, it’s nice not to have to worry about cooking a meal or dealing with the cleanup. Dining out, however, can really negatively impact a budget. So, while I appreciate the perks of dining out, I also do my best to cut costs when eating out.
It’s surprisingly simple to save money at restaurants, and there are plenty of ways to relish your dining out experience while simultaneously cutting your bill. Here are seven tips to help you save money when dining out.
Make it Special
Consider only going out to eat for special occasions. While it’s easy to get in the habit of dining out frequently, the cost can really add up over time. An easy way to cut on dining out expenses is to simply go less often. Instead of going out just for the sake of going out, make dining out a special treat or to celebrate a special occasion.
Go Out to Lunch Instead
Restaurants often price their lunch menu lower than their dinner menu. Also, restaurants tend to have value packed lunch specials to draw in more lunch time patrons. Dining out for lunch rather than dinner gives you the same experience with a much lower bill.
Restaurant portions are often massive in size. An easy way to cut your spending, while also saving yourself from overeating, is to split a main dish with your dining partner. Alternately, rather than ordering an entrée for your meal, you could order an appetizer or two as your meal instead. That said, if you are planning on ordering an entrée, consider skipping the appetizers all together. In combination with a regular entrée, those extras can cause your final bill to creep up considerably.
Do Your Research
Before you leave the house check out your favorite restaurants website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. for specials and discounts. Many restaurants run promotions via their social media channels and email lists. Additionally, most restaurants run certain promotions on specific days of the week. For example half price burger night on Friday and free kids meals on Tuesday. Taking a few minutes to do a little bit of research can help slash your dining out bill.
Shop Deal Sites
There are a plethora of daily deal and group deal coupon websites that offer heavy discounts on dining out such as Groupon and Living Social.
Groupon Coupons is a new way to save from Groupon. Unlike the traditional model, you do not need to purchase anything upfront- it’s over 55,000 totally free coupons from more than 8,000 of your favorite stores like Macy’s, Trader Joe’s, and Finish Line.
Skip Alcohol and Soft Drinks
There is a huge markup on drinks at restaurants, and drink costs can add up quickly. If you can go without a drink stick to drinking water to save money. However, if you must imbibe, ask your server about drink specials. Typically restaurants have daily beer, wine, and mixed drink specials that can save you big. In some cases the drink specials are half the cost of other similar drinks.
When ordering your meal be selective and thoughtful. Consider ordering food that you don’t often eat, or don’t often make at home. If you eat a lot of pasta dishes at home, order a different type of meal to make the experience special.
Whether dining out is a regular occurrence or a special occasion you can easily save money on your dining out costs.
How do you save money when dining out?