ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Save Money and Reduce Your Restaurant Bill

Updated on February 6, 2013

How to Cut Your Restaurant Bill

Food Network’s Rachel Ray has done a travel show called $40.00 a Day about how to cut your restaurant bill while traveling; but why not apply these principles during the Holiday Season this year and whenever else you can manage to do so?

Using these methods will save you from bankruptcy when you are caught having to eat at a restaurant by helping you cut your restaurant bill.

Down Memory Lane -

During the Depression there was an old stage gag - A man sat at a restaurant table and a waiter approached.

Man -  Is there any charge for bread?

Waiter - No, Sir.

Man - Is there any charge for gravy?

Waiter - Of course not, Sir.

Man - Fine! I'll have bread and gravy.

Portion Size Control

One technique I had never thought of when ordering in restaurants was to ask the wait person for a half-sized portion, which comes at a reduced rate. Although menus offer a set number of dishes and full meals, many restaurants fulfill customer requests of this nature.

If you can’t order a half portion, you can eat half of a full portion and take the rest home for another meal. Some restaurants will also package up half your meal ahead of time and bring that half to you when you are ready to leave. This is an excellent way to cut your restaurant bill and cut your grocery bill by having two meals for the price of one.

More Extreme Methods

One technique that you may not want to attempt is one used by a person I know that hates cooking for the family. He goes to the Chinese Buffet down the street every two weeks and orders enough food that is on the weekly Specials list to make 3-4 meals during a week. Considering that he purchases the most expensive brand of food in the grocery store, this actually saves money. The family makes extra rice to go with these meals and uses fruits for dessert, so they save money by cutting their overall food bill.

Ways to Reduce a Restaurant Bill

Take your own gravy (photos public domain)
Take your own gravy (photos public domain)
Borrow some condiments.(
Borrow some condiments.(

Most Extreme Methods

This method of cost cutting may be one you wish to skip. An old acquaintance of mine used cut her restaurant bill by taking her young daughter into restaurants and, ¾ through their meals, complaining to the manager that the food was making them sick and demanding a refund. Actually, this worked once in every restaurant she used and the management and staff caught on quickly and refused the refund the second time around.

As a restaurant manager for a steakhouse, I witnessed a few people return their steaks after ¾ eaten – and all side dishes eaten completely - with the complaint that the steaks were tough. Their demand was for a whole new meal, which they would then take home. The District Manager leveled the edict that we would supply only a new steak and nothing else after a certain date; but, the customers received a new steak, which they took home. After a few weeks, they tired of making their own side dishes at home and gave up their complaint practice.

At the same steakhouse, an extra charge was made for butter pats, sour cream, extra salad dressing, extra bread, etc.; so some customers brought in their own low-fat low-salt butter and other healthier condiments (which we did not have) and even a roll or two, and saved money that way.

Another method that my father used was to eat a sandwich before he went to an expensive restaurant for a business meal. Then he would order a modest meal and skip dessert, except for some fruit and coffee during after dinner conversation. He was able cut his restaurant bill for his company expense account and the company liked this very much. Other times, he would have just arrived by plane, having eaten on board and would have pie and coffee while others ate. Everyone was fine with this, too. You could join friends halfway through a celebration meal and have dessert and still enjoy the outing.

The most extreme methods of cutting a restaurant bill are 1) to walk out and not pay, which is illegal, and 2) never eat out and cook everything from scratch. The first is unwise and the second nearly impossible for many Americans.

Another very extreme technique is one I see some folks using in my neighborhood next to a mall. When short of cash, they stand at the mall car park entrance with a cardboard sign indicating there poverty and requesting employment opportunities or money or food. Usually, some motorist will go through a Drive-Thru and bring them a bag of food. That is the ultimate in reducing a restaurant bill and saving on gasoline as well.

Other Suggestions

I have seen the suggestion to take your own bottle of wine into a restaurant in order to reduce the restaurant bill by cutting the cost of alcoholic beverages. This works in some cities, but in our own, many restaurants will not allow outside food or wine and liquor and have a sign posted in the lobby to this effect.  In fact, some of these add the full price of their own wine to the restaurant bill and demand payment or criminal charges as an alternative. Some cities have restaurants that charge a fee to open or let you open the bottle in the dining area and some are not licensed for alcohol and cannot permit it. Call ahead and find out what you can and cannot do.

Another alternative is to skip the alcohol altogether because of the high markup rate on this product. Some people even take a bottle of spring water into the restaurant, which they state is for health purposes, and save the cost of beverages altogether.

Some individuals feel that less money is spent in a restaurant when credit cards are not used. Debit cards and cash outlay may restrain spending and reduce your restaurant bill. 

How have you reduced your restaurant bill?  

Settling the Bill - (bit of harsh language)

Asking for the Bill in a Philippine Restaurant

How Do You Reduce Your Restaurant Bill?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Eaxcatly, my dear BC! As a good friend says, "If you cannot afford a restaurant, go to McDonald's and eat in your car. Or eat tuna sandiwhses at home." :)

    • profile image

      B.C. BOUTIQUE 

      10 years ago

      Great article, but it seems to teeter on the areas of theft or con artist practices alot.

      Very good detail I must say, but I would never do many of the aboved mentioned things to save money at a restaurant, its healthir and cheaper to eat at home, and for me going out for dinner is a special occasion treat.

      That is my method, learn to be self sufficient and save the "luxuries" for special occasions :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      That's very interesting, Sagan. The staff enjoyed that wine, I'm sure.

    • Sagan profile image


      11 years ago

      Very interesting! Great article.

      I once heard about a man who ordered the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu, and after he tasted it he decided he didn't like it. So he sent it back and bought a much cheaper bottle! I'm guessing it was so that he could taste the expensive wine but just didn't want to pay for it. But I don't think the servers and cooks minded very much- they got to finish the bottle after their work was done:)

    • jimmythejock profile image

      Jimmy the jock 

      11 years ago from Scotland

      cool, lol free meals here I come.....jimmy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Probably! Or you could just pass out and fall out of your chair. :)

      At the steakhouse whenever something went amiss, we refunded the price of the entire party's meals, and provided coupon cards for a free meal next time.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      Jimmy the jock 

      11 years ago from Scotland

      Nice article, I have never done this in a restaurant but I can make myself sick at will and I can control the amount of puke that I produce, do you think it would work if I produced a little sick after eating?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      That sounds like fun, Rochelle, and very special. Thanks for sharing that, because it made me have a warm smile.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      11 years ago from California Gold Country

      There's a cute little cafe and wine room near us. The food is good, but we don't always feel like spending the amount for two full dinners and a couple of glasses of wine.

      Sometimes we just share a couple of appetizers or soup and have a dinner salad, or else have a hamburger (theirs are quite good) with a glass of wine. The wine costs more than the burger, but it still seems like a special dinner out, while spending quite a bit les.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Lissie has the posts on It sounds like it might be a good deal if it can create free backlinks.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Hi Patty,

       great article though not all of the ideas are quite as implementable as I would like ;-)

       I also have a question....  I just came across a post on posting on by Lizzie or Lizzy

      and you had commented on it (which is why I'm asking you).  I have no idea how to find it again. How does one find hubpages when I don't remember the exact sscreen name or even the title?  I even commented but without being logged in, so it's under my name, and then logged in and lost track of the page.  sigh.

      thanks so much for any help. (if you could send an answer to my email too that would be great. It's elisabeth711 AT gmail Dot com. I'm still a newbie with hubpages)


    • Netters profile image


      11 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Great article. Good tips, Cute and funny too. Thank you.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)