Money Smart Dining – 10 Tips for Saving Money when Dining Out!

by Savvy Saver Girl on September 3, 2010

Preparing food yourself and eating at home can save you a lot of money, especially if you maximize your savings by using coupons and follow the sales. It can also be much healthier than eating out since you know all of the ingredients, and you can prepare extra servings of food to enjoy later that week. But how can you save money for those times you are not preparing food at home (i.e.: meeting with business clients, quick lunch at work, on the run, or just for fun)?

Here are 10 tips to save money while dining out:

1) Dine Early.  Everyone knows that breakfast and lunch run cheaper than dinner so head out on the early side. Many restaurants have early dining specials and happy hours that can save you money.

2) Stick with Water.  Why pay an extra $2 on average for a soda? A family of four adds an extra $8 to their bill by ordering drinks. I think that’s crazy. Lower your bill by just having water and add lemon for a little flavor.

3) Small Plates.  Order appetizers instead of main dishes. They are fun to share and are usually much less expensive than entrées.

4) Kids Menus.  If you have kids, dining at a restaurant with a kids menu can add up to big savings. The prices on the kids menus are usually much lower than the regular menu. Some restaurants even offer specials like kids dine free.

5) Get it To Go.  If you don’t have time to cook, order your food to go and you don’t have the added cost of the tip for dining at the restaurant.

6) Know the Portion Size.  Some restaurants serve large portions so you’re able to bring home leftovers for a yummy meal the next day.

7) Use Coupons.  Many restaurants offer 2 for 1 coupons and other discounts. Check out your local newspapers and magazines, and go online for printable coupons. There may even be coupons at the restaurant’s website.

8) Frequent Dining Cards.  Some establishments have cards where you buy so many and you get one free. Always ask the restaurant if they have a frequent dining card.

9) Skip Dessert.  Why add this to your bill? If you want dessert, stop at the local bakery or grocery store on your way home. This will save you money, especially if you have a large family.

10) Dollar Menu.  When you can’t skip the fast food, consider ordering off the dollar menu. Most establishments have a pretty good selection of dollar menu items, and ordering a single item rather than a full meal deal is healthier for you and your wallet.

Happy Savings!

Photo credit here

~ Savvy Saver Girl

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