10 Ways To Save Money At Restaurants

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Sometimes it’s just necessary to have a meal outside of your home. We say that it’s a waste of money, and that’s an opinion that we all have that differs. It is a waste to eat out all the time, but it’s fun to do on occasion. And it’s really fun to do when someone else is cooking and cleaning up after you, because that’s the entire point of being in a restaurant where someone else is doing all of the difficult work on your behalf. However, you can’t rely on the fact that someone else is going to save money for you, which means that you have to figure out a few money-saving strategies of your own. You can save when you’re dining in a restaurant, and we have some great ideas and suggestions for you to use so that you can do that each and every time you decide to let someone else do all the heavy lifting on your behalf. Go ahead; we dare you to use a few of our money-saving strategies when dining out.

Coupons Online

One of the easiest ways to save money when dining out is to look for coupons online. Google the name of the restaurant in which you are dining followed by “coupons” and then print the ones you find that you like the best. Check for expiration dates that have already passed so that you don’t show up with a coupon that no longer works.

Coupons from Restaurant Websites

Restaurants offer their own coupons online that you can print out when you head to the site. This is a great way for you to save a bit of money when you’re dining out. It might even help you choose a place to go based on who is offering the best dining coupons at the moment.

Coupons in the Paper

The Sunday paper can be your best friend if you get it. There are always excellent coupons in the paper that people can use to go shopping and to dine in their favorite restaurants. Be one of those people that make the decision to go out and eat using the paper to find coupons. It’s a cheap way to find a good deal on a great meal.

Dining Club Coupons

Many restaurants across the country have a dining membership of their own. All you have to do is sign up for this so that you can use your membership when you eat to earn points. These points are great for discounts, for free drinks or sides, and they’re awesome for things like free appetizers. You spend money dining and earn free items the next time you come to many restaurants; it’s a great concept not nearly enough people take advantage of.

Share Meals

Most meal portions at restaurants are entirely too large. This means you’re consuming far too many calories or not eating half your food, which is likely going to waste. Since no one enjoys spending money on things they are not going to eat, why not share a meal? You can half the portion and eat what is more like a normal portion and you can save a bit of money in the process. Asking for one meal with two plates is a great way to get what you want without overindulging in calories and without spending too much money on wasted product.

Dine Early

Did you know that most dining establishments will sell their dinner meals for a lot less money before a certain time each night? This is called the “early bird” special and it’s the same food for far less money. The only difference is that you might be eating dinner a big earlier than you might find acceptable. We love this concept because it works well for everyone, especially those who don’t care what time they eat as long as they eat cheap.

Look for Deals on Deal Sites

Groupon and sites like it are great for dining deals. Local restaurants in many different areas will offer big sales on their food and you can take advantage of those as often as you want. You can get dining coupons for less than half price, which is always amazing. What we love about this concept is that you get to go out and enjoy the food you love without actually spending as much as you would without this coupon. Restaurants offer these to draw people in, and that’s nice to know.

Order the Lunch Portion

Many restaurants will let you order your favorite dinner meal in a lunch size. This means you’re getting far less to eat (but that’s good considering how big the servings are) and you’re getting a big discount on the meal. From now on, ask for the lunch size portion of whatever it is you are going to order and you will get a big discount on what it is you want to eat.

Order from the Kids’ Menu

Kids get the same thing as you in many restaurants, but their portions and prices are a lot smaller. In fact, the kids’ size portion is a lot closer to what the recommended serving size is for many dishes, and sometimes even that is a bit more. Of course, it all just depends on the item you’re ordering. However, we do recommend that you order this if you’re in the mood for something that’s already on the kids’ menu in the first place.

Dine During Happy Hour

Happy hour is a great time to dine out for your favorite meal considering it is the kind of time in which you can order drinks that are two for one, on sale or a lot less expensive than they typically are. This is a great idea for date night, since that’s when you’re more likely to order a cocktail. Just make sure that whatever you want to drink is on the happy hour menu since not all drinks are always included on this list. It never hurts to ask.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Written by Tiffany Raiford

Tiffany Raiford is a lifelong Floridian, wife to my high school sweetheart and mother of four littles (two girls and boy/girl twins...no, they are not identical and yes, I'm sure). My kids love to whine, so I love to wine. My loves include nap time, bed time, date night, travel and evenings and weekends when my husband is home because he handles all diaper changes.