Now that more and more restaurants are opening up fully, your eating out budget may need to be increased. However, here are tips to save money at restaurants.
#1: Save half your meal. This one will also save your waistline! Before your meal arrives, ask for a to-go box and put half of your meal in it. Now you have lunch or dinner for the next day as well.
#2: Use coupons. I get weekly “junk” mail that has ‘buy 1 meal, get 2nd meal for free’ coupons in it. Give these places a try. They are usually a local small business that would love to have new customers. You can also find some online for your favorite places.
#3: Do a lunch date instead. Lunch is usually cheaper than dinner, but the food is just as good. Oftentimes restaurants have lunch specials of smaller (cheaper) versions of their dinner items.
#4: Get the birthday discount. Every March, I go to Red Robin for my free birthday burger...it’s probably the only time I go! Here is a list you can check out for restaurants that offer birthday clubs, all you have to do is sign up!
#5: Skip the coffee, tea and soda. These have a much higher cost at restaurants than if you bought them from the store. Remember you’re not there for a soda, you’re there for the food. Save yourself $3+ per person by drinking water instead.
#6: Skip the appetizer. This is one of the reasons I love Mexican restaurants, the free chips and salsa. However if the restaurant doesn’t have a free appetizer, then skip it all together. No point in filling up on snacks before the meal arrives.
#7: Share a meal. Some restaurant’s meals are so large that it is easy to share a meal. You will still get enough to eat and be satisfied, but your pocketbook and your waistline will thank you.
#8: Get it to go. This way you get the same delicious food, but you don’t have to tip 20% for service. Then you can eat in the comfort of your home. Watch a movie and make a date night out of it.
#9: Order like a kid. I’ll be honest, I still order the Happy Meal. I’m able to get a taste of everything I want, but the price is right and the portions are better. If you’re able, order off the kid’s menu. Plus at Chick-fil-A you can trade the toy for an ice cream!
#10: Go on a Monday or Tuesday. Not only are the restaurants not as busy, but they often have deals for their slower days of the week.
#11: Avoid Major Holidays. Eating out on Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day is not only crowded, but also more expensive. Restaurants will often put together specials for the day that are overpriced. Celebrate holidays with loved ones on a different day and save some money...perhaps for a nice gift!
#12: Kids Eat Free. If you have kids (and you want to take them to dinner with you), there are places that have Kids Eat Free days. Here is a list of options to check out. Make sure to look ahead to see what night their deal is each week.
#13: Hit up Happy Hour. This was one of mine and Nathan’s favorites (before kids). The drinks are cheaper, the food is cheaper and the environment is usually fun.
Make sure when you do enjoy a night out, that it fits in your budget and that you plan on tipping well for good service.