How to Save Money Eating Out
Eating out can be a big expense that can squeeze your budget. You can eliminate or drastically reduce that expense by taking your coffee from home in a travel mug, making your own lunch to bring to work and cooking family meals.
You all know this and you all know how much healthier this is for you as well. However we occasionally want or NEED a night out so here are some ways you can still enjoy a meal out without breaking the bank.
* KIDS Eat FREE
Always check your local restaurants for the nights they offer FREE kids meals! Some have a certain day of the week, some the day after Red Sox or Patriots win. I am working on a local listing so please submit the ones you know to me!
* Drink Water
Drinking water is not only good for your health but by skipping other beverages at restaurants you can save a lot off your bill. Cocktails are super expensive so consider having a nightcap at home after dinner. Even one glass of soda or juice can cost more than an entire 2 liter from the grocery store.
* Skip Appetizers & Desserts
It is easy to get carried away with snacking on appetizers (they are so yummy). Not only do they run your bill up, but they also fill you up leaving no room for your meal. If you are starving before you can get out, try a healthy snack at home so you can skip the appetizers and order a reasonable meal. If you must have apps, look for happy hour deals or late night 1/2 price apps.
As for desserts, you know you should not be eating that triple chocolate SIN cake anyway… BUT desserts are also so overpriced. You can make your own desserts and have them at home for a fraction of the price. Even if you do not bake you can BUY a full cake or pie at the bakery and still pay way less per slice than you will at a restaurant.
* Ask for Half Portions
Many restaurants now offer HALF portions (small plates) or lunch size entrees at dinner. These are better for your waistline and your wallet. Even if it is not listed… ASK! Consider splitting a dinner with a friend or order an appetizer portion for a meal. Remember YOU can split your meal on your own – eat half and take the other half home for lunch the next day – 2 meals for the price of one.
* Dine during Off-Hours
Call it the early-bird special or some restaurants have extended lunch hours. So grab an early dinner at lunch prices! Some bars have “happy hour” menus or bar menus that have lower priced items when you eat in the bar area.
* Discount Restaurant Vouchers and Apps
Look for discount restaurant vouchers from Groupon, Restaurant.com, Amazon Local, LivingSocial and more. You can sometimes save up to 50% off! Restaurant.com offers $25 gift certificates for $5 and less on a regular basis. This is also a great way to try out new restaurants. You can also find restaurant coupons in the local Clippers Magazine, the ValPak coupons in the mail and your local Entertainment Books. Be sure to follow your favorite restaurants on facebook and twitter where they can post special deals. Some places offer discounts when you check in on Foursquare or facebook.