This is part of our Ways to Save Series. Find more Ways to Save!
These ways to save while dining out are going to totally change how you view those special meals out! Compared to eating at home, dining out can be expensive, and if you’re not careful it can completely tank your budget too! But who wants to eat at home all of the time? The good news is, you don’t have to. With these simple tips you can learn how to eat out for less and still have a yummy meal that you don’t have to prepare or clean up!
Ways To Save While Dining Out
Use Coupons: Using coupons is a great way to save money while dining out. Look for coupons in your local newspapers and magazines or watch our weekly restaurant coupon page. Coupon cards or books that are sold for team fundraisers are also a way to score deep discounts on meals and drinks. Another favorite option is Restaurant.com. There is a minimum purchase requirement but if you are splitting the bill you can save a ton using these!
It also pays to search online for customer rewards programs where you can sign up for exclusive discounts and freebies. Start following your favorite restaurants on social media or via email to get coupons and special discounts! You will often find free appetizers, free desserts or a buy one get one free coupon through these email subscriptions to popular chains, and even occasionally mom and pop restaurants.
Go Out to Lunch: If you’re looking to eat out for less, go out for lunch rather than dinner and you’ll save a bundle! Lunch menus are almost always less expensive, while still providing reasonable and filling portion sizes. Even lunch buffets are often $2-$5 cheaper per person.
Share an Entree: If you can’t meet for lunch, try sharing an entree with your dinner date to save money. Restaurant portions are usually too much for one person anyway, and you’ll be less likely to overeat and overspend. If you love having an appetizer and dessert with your meal, split them all and you’ll really rack up the savings!
Eat at the Bar: Want to try out a new upscale restaurant without it costing an arm and a leg? Try eating at the bar. Most nicer restaurants have a bar menu that is significantly less expensive. The atmosphere will be a bit more casual, but you’ll be able to enjoy a nice date and delicious food without draining the kids college funds.
Drink Water: One of the easiest ways to eat out for less is to skip the fancy beverages and stick with water. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for a slice of lime or lemon to liven things up. You’ll save a few dollars at least (per person) and while that might seem insignificant, the savings really do stack up. It’s likely that you’ll take in less calories, and feel better too.
Dine during Happy Hour: One of the best ways to save while dining out is to take advantage of half price items during Happy Hour. Usually, there will be great deals on appetizers and, of course, drinks during Happy Hour. You can skip entrees, and share 3-4 appetizers for less than two regular meals during this time!
Bring the Kids: Many restaurants have nights when kids eat free, and if you’re eating out as a family this can be big savings. When combining free kids meals with other ideas from this list, it’s possible for the whole family to eat out at a nice restaurant at fast food prices. Just remember to tip on what the total would be if kids meals were included.
While eating out is almost always more expensive than a home cooked meal, these ways to save while dining out can definitely make it much more affordable. Start using these tips to save a ton and before you know it you’ll be an expert, and soon your friends will be asking you to teach them how to eat out for less!