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Ten ways to save money while eating out

Updated on April 18, 2013

In these economic times, dining out can be tough on the budget. While it is common knowledge that we can save 50% or more by cooking and eating at home, there are times when the occasional splurge of eating out is not only welcome, but needed. What follows is a list of my favorite ways to save money on dining out. Enjoy!

  • Visit new restaurants. Often a restaurant that has just opened for business will have some great deals and specials. Since part of dinning out is trying something new, why not take a chance on a new restaurant and save money in the process!
  • Go out for lunch or breakfast. This is a great way to save money while dinning out. Typically, lunch is far cheaper than dinner, and breakfast is even cheaper still. Many family restaurants serve breakfast all day, so there is no reason you can’t have your favorite omelet at seven in the evening.
  • Just order side items. At some restaurants, the side items are the best part of the meal! The next time you go out, why not save money by trying a salad along with another side….you won’t be disappointed.
  • Fill up on the starters. Save money without realizing it! Mexican restaurants start you with chips and salsa; Italian restaurants bring out the bread basket. Whatever the starter, it is not hard to fill up on the “free” part of the meal. Often times, just a side item or appetizer are enough after the freebies.
  • Split a meal. The average restaurant meal is way more than many of us can handle. If you are going out to dinner with your spouse, order one dinner and one appetizer and split them. This is also a great way to save money if you have kids and want to split a meal between the kids.

  • Skip the Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages have huge profit margins for restaurants. This means a bad deal for you. I go out to dinner for the great food, not the wine. So the next time you go out, save money by skipping the alcohol for iced tea (far cheaper), or water (often free).
  • Skip Desert. Desert is a high profit margin item for restaurants, which means it is a rip off for you. Rather than buy desert, stop by the grocery on the way home and pick up a gallon of ice cream. The ice cream will feed the whole family, and will probably be cheaper than a single portion of any desert at the restaurant. (Save money even further by using a coupon for the ice cream!)
  • Visit local, no frills restaurants. You know the ones I am talking about: The little hole-in-the-wall, Mom-and-Pop owned joints. My experience has been that what they lack in décor is more than made up for in food quality, customer service, and low prices. Often times, these are the best places to save money while dinning out. On a recent trip to Philadelphia, I ate each meal in a different local restaurant, and never once was I disappointed by price or quality.
  • Special Days. Many restaurants will have a “special day” each week to bring in business. Often times, this is in the middle of the week when business is typically slow. Call ahead and take advantage of the savings.
  • Get discount coupons. There are many sites on the internet where you can get restaurant coupons. Try and I often use thes sites to save money when I go on a vacation. Just put in your location, and see what coupons pop up!
  • Choose an affordable restaurant. While fast food is often the cheapest option, it is generally not the healthiest option for dining out. However, there are many medium priced restaurants that offer a great meal while allowing you to save money over a high end restaurant. Since many of these are chain restaurants, you can often find menus and prices on the corporate website, so you can do a little on prices before spending your hard earned dollars.

I hope you have enjoyed this hub. Please feel free to leave comments below.


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    • profile image

      Marc Bautis 4 years ago

      Not ordering alcohol is good, but another option is to go to a BYOB restaurant. is a good site for coupons. Groupon and Living Social always have restaurant deals too.

    • cosmomed profile image

      cosmomed 4 years ago from Sarawak. Malaysia

      I agree with you, desserts and drinks cannot fill your stomach and it only costs you more money.

    • BSloan profile image

      Barbara Sloan 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Enjoyed reading your Hub. Lots of great advice on saving money while still being able to enjoy a meal out.