Saving While Eating at Restaurants

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Eating out a few times a week may not seem like a big expense, but it can kill your budget quickly if you aren’t careful. Use these tips to save money while eating out alone, or with your family.

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Avoid appetizers. Honestly, after you order and eat an appetizer, you’ve already spent $10-$15 and you’re almost full. Then you spend more on your actual entree, and have food to take home. But you never actually eat the food you take home, so it gets wasted. It’s a vicious cycle. Okay, so I’m kind of joking – but I bet you know what I’m talking about. :)

Drink water. Soda can cost you $2-$3. Save yourself $15 for a family of 5!

Coupons! Use voucher codes for restaurants.

Limit alcohol. The most expensive part of a meal can be the alcohol. $5 – $8 a drink? That adds up, fast!

Share a meal. Two for $20 is becoming a popular trend for some chains like Applebee’s. If a deal like that isn’t available, order an entree and split it.

Save by using gift cards. Buy gift cards at Sam’s Club, or Costco. You save 20 percent, and they can be used with another coupon.

Visit on the cheaper days or nights. Some restaurants have deals like “Kids eat free Tuesdays after 4PM”. Find out which restaurants offer deals on each night, and you could easily have a few meals a week on the cheap. Also, consider Happy Hour for free or cheap drinks, or brunch or lunch for cheaper meals than you’d get at dinner time.

Get a little creative and your dining out experience can be fabulous, without breaking the bank!

What are you favorite ways to save while eating out?

This post brought to you by Net Voucher Codes.

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Comments

  1. I love using restaurant vouchers! I’ve saved so much money that way.

  2. Jennifer B says:

    Order a couple of appetizers and split them instead of ordering and entree.

  3. Jessica P. says:

    I wish water at restaurants didn’t usually taste so bad,because it’s definitely cheaper drinking it than the tea or lemonade that I usually order. I always check out restaurants.com for vouchers before eating out anywhere. A while back I had a coupon code to use on restaurant.com,so I was able to get $35 vouchers for $2!!

  4. Good advice. I agree with Jessica about the water tasting bad. I usually order a soda because I’m afraid of the water! It does add up though when everyone in the family orders a drink… any kind of drink at all will kill your budget over time.

    We also have just done the appetizer as a meal and shared it. The kids and I learned this trick a long time ago!

    wendy2lindsey at yahoo dot com
    Wendy recently posted..Enter to Win a KitchenAid Mixer! Raspberry Ice Never Looked so Good!

  5. I order water & see what the hubby’s gonna order then choose my dish… Sometimes I go with an appetizer or house salad. Keeps me from eating as much & is always cheaper.

  6. I like to order an entree that’s easy to make into 2 or 3 meals…U.S. portions are generous! I make it a point to eat the leftovers then!
    Danielle recently posted..Colorado High Park Fundraising Efforts

  7. Thanks for the advice….I always take my bottled water with me :)
    Debbie Johnston recently posted..Making baked beans Frugal style

  8. Good tips. We save by eating at happy hour, using coupons and limiting the number of times we eat out.
    Jan Messali recently posted..Gardening to Stop Hunger

  9. I get text messages once or twice a month from some of our favorite restaurants with deals. If we go out that’s usually why. We end up eating out about every other month. The last time we ate out it was 1/2 price appetizers and salads so we got one of each and split them both. We got the kids their own meals, though. The kids both got chocolate milk, and my husband and I got pop. We ended up paying about $25 including the tip (and we aren’t stingy) for a family of 4. Not bad at all!
    Alyssa McVey recently posted..$25 Fandango eGift Card FLASH Giveaway!

  10. sarah heart says:

    I go out to places with discounts, like dennys. And we will doggy bag the rest….. My tip is to buy cheap lol…. :)

  11. These are some really great tips. I always regret ordering appetizers.. usually when I’m super full and looking at the check haha. Alcohol can get expensive too you’re right, especially in tourist areas! I live in Honolulu and while my dad was visiting last I took him to Jimmy Buffett’s, the drink I ordered was a big girly one that included a back scratcher (lol) and it cost $16!!!! Don’t get me wrong, it got the job done, but wowza I was not expecting that!
    Savannah recently posted..FREE BLOGGER OPP SIGN UP! Fall In Love With Handmade Giveaway Hop

  12. Janet W. says:

    We always drink water if we eat out. It really does save a lot of money. We only drink soft drinks/tea at home when we can buy it for a lot cheaper!

  13. Nena Sinclair says:

    Sign up for daily deal sites, such as Groupon. They often have restaurant deals at 50% off or even more. Sign up for newsletters from your favorite restaurants. They often email you a coupon for a discount or something like a free appetizer for signing up.

  14. I also love to buy vouchers at Restaurant.com. You can get a $25 certificate to a restaurant for $2 on sale!
    Julie M. recently posted..Who want’s to win over $600 worth of Cloth Diapers? #UltimateFluff

  15. Good ideas on here!! We love eating out but love saving money more!! LOL If we can do both, it’s a win-win and we still feel like we are getting out and about in the world. I can NEVER finish my plate so I always get a doggie bag and have the leftovers for lunch the next day so it saves us there, too.

  16. We all share desert. You can never ever finish your own desert after eating a meal anyway!!
    Camille recently posted..Thankful Thursday

  17. hbshara says:

    The “drink water” idea IS a money saver! Hubby and I stopped having cocktails with dinner and replaced them with water. We saved 20-40 dollars each meal!!

  18. Ellen Levickis says:

    we order water unless one of us really wants a soda or coffee.

  19. Restaurant.com is an awesome way to save on your entire order and learn about new restaurants in your area! It also helps if you are visiting a town you don’t know to get ideas for places to eat. I don’t work for the website or anything. I’m just a biologist married to a bartender/composer who likes to go out to eat once in a while and get a deal at the same time. Enjoy!

  20. Jennifer Brooks says:

    Nice ideas! My hubby and I like to go to restaurants where they have “endless fries”, so that splitting the entree means we still get lots of fries each! :) In Canada, Red Robin and White Spot are our favourites for this, since they are already fairly cheap places to eat! We can get out of there for $15 if we order waters (and still have full tummies at the end!) Woohoo! :)

  21. Ashley Holbrook says:

    Love this blog post. We are on a pretty stict diet right now so we don’t get to eat out often, but when we do we make sure we can get a good deal and almost always use coupons!

  22. i am a big fan of just getting water….a drink is so much and if everyone gets one that can add $10-15 onto the bill!

  23. My fave way to save money is just not eat out at all and if I have to I usually will buy something my husband, son and I can all share. Eating out in a small town really isnt a smart thing to do since all we have are fast food joints:(

  24. Lindsay Oussa says:

    We usually split an appetizer and entree and order water to drink. If at all possible we eat out at restaurants when they have Kids eat free specials.

  25. Christina C says:

    I’ll just order an appetizer, instead of an entree.

  26. We go to a lot of restaurants that do free kids meals on certain nights. We very rarely go with out a coupon or a groucher/groupon. With 4 kids that saves a lot! We also limit going out to just a few times a month so it makes it fun for the kids when we go.

  27. Rachel N says:

    Good ideas. We save by hardly ever eating out, lol. Really, with 2 little kids we rarely go to restaurants and when we do it is a date night for the hubs and I so we go somewhere nice and don’t worry about the bill (it only happens 2-3 times a year). I can see these tips coming in very handy when my kids are older and we are on vacation though!

  28. Seyma Shabbir says:

    We always buy the coupon book for school fundraisers then through out the year use them esp on new restaurants. Our kids a little (3 and 5) so we hardly eat out with them – cook at home. But once a week when we have someone watch them we have a date midweek or on the weekend and use the BOGO free meal coupons. Get to know the cook or owner, if it is a great restaurant tell your friends to mention your name when you go. Many times the chef/owner will thank you with a free meal/appetizer.

  29. Kayleigh says:

    We need to stop ordering the appetizers and soda!!! Or just have one soda to share for the “need some bubbly” kick. I usually purposefully split my meal once I get my plate and get a to-go box in the beginning – that way I KNOW i have enough for lunch the next day ;)

  30. Good stuff! I like to go to places that have half off appetizers in the evening. Also it saves a lot of money when you sign up for birthday clubs or rewards at places that have them.
    Katie Wurn recently posted..My new fave site…Bag Forums!

  31. Great Ideas! It’s always so tempting to eat out, so we always opt for a smaller meal and share it. :) We still get the satisfaction, and half the bill!

  32. Suzy Allen says:

    Great tips! We almost never eat out as we are on an extremely tight budget, but when we do I it’s usually because restaurants.com has one of their deals where you can buy restaurant vouchers for super cheap, like $3 for a 25 voucher. It’s totally a marketing gimmick because then you have to buy a certain amount before you can use it, but some of them are minimum $40 so then we only end up spending $15 + tip and we can order whatever we want without feeling guilty!

  33. M.C. Whitney says:

    When we eat out we always order water and my husband and I both buy an entree and share it with our two kids (baby three nurses, so saving on that still! lol).

  34. Ashley Snyder says:

    Some great tips! :)

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