Eating out is expensive, but we all love to do it. Here are some great tips to save money when eating out.
1 – Make it a Weekday Date
Many restaurants offer specials deals, or feature coupons for dining during the week. This usually means Monday through Thursday, though if you look hard enough, you are sure to find a restaurant that includes Friday too. Discounts can vary from buying one entree at full price and getting the other free, to taking 15% off your total bill. Also, you will find it easier to get a reservation during the week, or less time waiting for a table when reservations are not taken. Since time is money, you are saving here too.
2 – Choose a Meal, not Just an Entree
Instead of ordering an appetizer, soup or salad, then an entree and then dessert, check the menu for combination meals. Many restaurants have specials that include a soup and/or salad, your entree, a side dish, and a dessert. The cost of this could be less than half of what you would have paid to order each item separately.
3 – Nix Dinner, and Do Lunch Instead
Often times, a restaurant’s dinner menu is the same or similar to their lunch menu. The difference, however, is usually the price. Lunch menu entrees are typically about $5 less than the same entree for dinner. So, if you can go out to eat for lunch instead of dinner, you are sure to save money on your restaurant dining.
4 – Ask About Daily Specials
Many restaurants have special discount nights. For example, maybe your favorite pizza place has $7 large pies on Monday nights, instead of the usual $11. Either give them a call, or ask the next time you are there.
5 – Don’t Eat Out, Take Out
One of the reasons we go out to eat is because we don’t want to cook, but restaurant dining is much more expensive than take out dining. Even if the restaurant doesn’t deliver, chances are they have a take out menu. Many times the take out menu has smaller portions than when you dine in, which will save you money. For example, when you order chicken parmesan from an Italian restaurant, it probably comes with a side of pasta and a salad. However, perhaps the take out menu only includes the chicken parmesan, so the cost would be much less. Pasta is something very simple to cook at home, so buy the entree, and then cook the sides at home.
6 – Share Something to Save
Many restaurants serve large portions, which you know you aren’t going to finish. Instead of bringing home a doggie bag, share your meal with your spouse or friend. Some restaurants will charge a plate sharing fee, but it is usually only a dollar or two compared with the cost of a whole other entree.
7 – Order from the Appetizer Menu
Sometimes appetizer items also appear on the entree menu. One great example is chicken fingers. If you aren’t big on the fries that come with the entree, order the chicken fingers from the appetizer menu. You will usually get about the same amount, and save yourself about $5.
Emily Gojko: I am a writer, marketer, and manager with a strong background in real estate development and management. I am also a native New Yorker with an obsession for home design shows, so I have personal and professional experience making the most of small spaces, and dealing with good and bad living situations.