Right now, our eating out budget is slim.
We like to go out to eat, but we usually try to make our dollar stretch as far as possible.
There are times when we go all out at a restaurant. Usually, for our anniversary or a birthday, we’ll order drinks and appetizers and fancier meals. But for regular, non-special occasions, we try to find ways to save money when we go out to eat.
10 Ways to Save Money Going Out to Eat
I think Groupon is so cool. We live in a tiny town and we still find Groupon deals for area restaurants, so I can’t imagine the choice of deals you would have in a regular sized city.
If you’ve never used Groupon, this is how it works: Each day there are new deals available from all different kinds of businesses (not just restaurants). They are only available for a limited time, and may sell out.
If you’re interested, you purchase the deal. I just saw one where you got $10 towards a local frozen yogurt place for $6. That’s a 40% discount. You pay the $6 to Groupon online and then either print off a voucher or show it to the business on your phone when you go so that they know you are using your Groupon.
It’s really easy. Most of their deals are for 40-60% (sometimes more), so it’s definitely worth taking a look at.
Split Big Meals
Splitting meals is the old standby for saving money out to eat, but it works!
If we each get our own meal, we almost always bring home leftovers, and that’s after we’ve each eaten way more than we should have. If we split something, we still have plenty to eat.
Another idea would be for each adult to split a meal with a child.
Some restaurants charge an extra fee if you split a meal, so be sure you know the policy in case that messes up your savings.
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Ask About the Specials
Some restaurants aren’t very good about advertising their specials, so ask if they have any if your server doesn’t automatically tell you.
The specials are can be a very good deal.
Research Your Restaurant
There are a few restaurants around here that have amazing deals on their slower days.
One of the breweries offers $5 burger meals on Mondays to try to get more traffic on their slowest day. The local pizza place does 1/2 price pizzas on Monday-Wednesday to drum up extra business.
Even some chain restaurants do it. I get emails from Brann’s and they come up with some impressive specials on their slow days to entice you to come in.
Be on the lookout for deals like this. Look up some area restaurants online to see if they offer and specials on certain days.
Go for Soups and Apps
This is one of our favorite ways to save.
We love soup, so a lot of times we’ll each order soup and then split an appetizer. At some places, ordering a few smaller items like soups and appetizers can save money compared to buying a full meal.
Skip the Drinks
Drinks are seriously expensive! A beer can easily cost $5. Soda is usually around$2.
If your family of four each orders a soda, that’s an extra $8. If you and your special someone each order a beer, that’s an extra $10.
There are definitely times when we order drinks, but we save money when we don’t.
This one can save a ton!
A group of four can get a pizza and breadsticks for $20-25, but it would cost more like $40 for each person to order their own meal.
If you’re eating with your family or a group, seek out restaurants that serve meals for everyone, like pizza or a chicken dinner.
A ton of restaurants have separate lunch menus.
Lunch menus often have the exact same items, maybe just in slightly smaller portions. Plus, lunch menus are much less expensive.
We actually prefer going out to lunch because restaurants are generally less crowded for lunchtime.
One of our favorite places usually has a long wait anytime around dinner, but if you go for lunch you can get a table. I have no patience when I’m hungry!
Set a Budget
Never forget the budget.
If you’re heading out for a meal, decide on how much you want to spend and stick to it. Use the tips above to help you stick to your budget for that meal.
Ok, so this is kind of an alternative to going out to eat. We love getting takeout (that’s probably an understatement).
If you eat at a restaurant, you need to leave a tip (servers work hard!). You can save money by getting takeout since you won’t need to leave a tip.
You can eat your meal from the comfort of your own home. Or, you can take your food and have a picnic somewhere pretty.
We like to get Chinese takeout and go down to the river to eat. Delicious, peaceful, and beautiful.
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