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Simply Savings | Saving Money @ Restaurants!

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Many of us enjoy a having nice meal out in a restaurant. It gives the family cook a break from the kitchen, it’s a nice way to socialize with family and friends, and it’s usually fun.  Unfortunately, eating out can be one of the quickest ways to really blow your budget. But there are some easy ways to lessen the damage and still enjoy the pleasure of eating out occasionally.

  • Drink water. Some of the highest-profit items in the restaurant are the beverages. You won’t be denying yourself or your kids that much by ordering a glass of ice water instead of a soda, but you’ll knock a couple of dollars per person off the bill. Avoiding cocktails will save you a bundle, too, not to mention lots of calories.
  • Skip the appetizers and desserts. Appetizers are often priced similarly to the entrees, but really aren’t needed, with today’s restaurant portions being so large. If you do decide to indulge in an appetizer or dessert, choose something that can be shared at the table—or have the appetizer as your entrée.
  • Go earlier. Lots of places offer a specially priced “sunset menu” that offers better bargains for diners willing to eat at less-crowded times. You’ll also get to avoid wasting time waiting for a table, which in many restaurants also involves a server offering pricy cocktails and appetizers to help you spend your time—and your cash.
  • Share an entrée. Restaurant portions are gargantuan these days, and most places won’t mind if you ask for an extra plate. Even if there’s a small charge for sharing, you still come out ahead financially, and in most restaurants, you’ll both still have a satisfying meal. Today’s half portions are like full portions were a generation ago!
  • Order from the kids’ menu. Read the fine print on the menu to see if there’s an age restriction on ordering a child’s meal. Many restaurants don’t mind if you do, and the portion sizes aren’t that much smaller than the regular ones.
  • Use coupons. Okay, maybe not on a first date. But just about any other time, coupons are a perfectly acceptable and smart way to save some money on your meal. Chains like Olive Garden and Red Lobster sometimes offer coupons in the Sunday newspaper. Local restaurants often run coupons in the weekly neighborhood free newspapers.
  • Buy an Entertainment book.  This can be a great investment; in addition to 2-for-1 restaurant meals, you’ll find coupons for all kinds of local attractions and entertainment venues.
  • Look for deals online. Check out sites like Groupon, Valpak.com, and Restaurant.com for great deals. Don’t forget to check the restaurant’s own site too. Sometimes you can score a nice discount just by signing up for the restaurant’s email list.

Eating out can definitely be a lot of fun. It’s relaxing, sociable, and a nice way to spend time with friends and family. But if you don’t pay attention, it can also end up costing way more than you want to spend. But with some smart planning and careful strategy, you’ll be able to enjoy a great meal without breaking the bank.

What type of things have you done to save money by eating out?  We’d love to hear from you! And while you are here, don’t forget to sign up for your FREE daily newsletter from Learnvest, it offers great ways to make your money stretch!

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Comments

  1. Eating out is so expensive! Thanks for the great tips to save money on dinner!
  2. Great Tips! We love eating out, but it can be very expensive, so these are good things to remember!

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