19 Tips to Save Money at Restaurants (Eating Out)


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The price of eating out can really take the fun out of sharing a meal, but it doesn’t have to. Save money eating out! Whether you like eating out during your lunch hour, want to go out on a date or don’t feel like cooking, these 19 money saving tips will help you cut costs the next time you venture beyond your kitchen.

1.) Order a salad and an appetizer. Usually the appetizers are the most exciting thing on the menu anyway.

2.) Have breakfast or lunch dates instead of dinner dates.  Dinner tends to be the most expensive meal.

3.) Bring your own wine and pay only the corkage fee. Most restaurants charge 250% of retail. Bleh!

4.) Use printable restaurant coupons you can find online.

5.) If you can’t afford it, don’t attend group functions where everyone ‘equally’ splits the bill or insist that you pay only your portion (not for the 4 drinks Suzie guzzled over sushi).

6.) Use restaurant.com to pay up to 50% less for your bill at a local favorite. Get $25 gift certificates for just $10. Print them now using your computer and redeem them tonight (or whenever you feel like it).

7.) Use kid’s eat free restaurants. MyKidsEatFree.com is a good resource for finding out which restaurants offer free kids meals with the purchase of an adult meal in your area.

8.) Search the local paper for advertisements that serve cheap three course meals during the week. Sometimes, you can find places that are ordinarily pricey that offer extraordinary weekday bargains.

9.  Buy an Entertainment Book to get tons of Buy One, Get One Free coupons for restaurants in your local neighborhood. The book is cheap, so eating out once will close to pay for it. It’s a great way of finding new places too! Most books have over 200 dining discounts. Get it now for 35% of w/free s&h!.

10. Order one soda, one salad, and share a main.  Try to go to places that are known for serving big portions.

11. Don’t order martini’s or foo-foo drinks. If you must drink alcohol, drink draft beer or house wine.

12. Dinner “specials” tend to be a way of selling leftovers at an inflated price. Check the price tag before you begin salivating. However, do check out daily lunch specials as these are usually full meals, at a reduced price for the weekday crowd. Sometimes, the meals even include a drink.

13. Use your senior citizen status to save.

14. Have dinner at home and then go out for dessert and coffee. That’s the fun part anyway.

15. Try to eat places where there is not a full service wait staff.

16. Eat at places where you get free bread, rolls, or chips & salsa so that you can opt to spend less on your main meal. You can also order stuff to go with the free bread, like a caprese salad to make a sandwich or try ordering beans & cheese to go with your chips.

17. Don’t eat out. Hehe… just kidding! 😉

18. Go to Costco and load up on free samples. (This is especially good on Saturday & Sunday)

19. It’s handy to have drinks in your car if you know you’ll be eating on the go. Most places don’t charge for a cup with ice.

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I started Free Mania in 1997 as a teenager in small town Oregon. More than 15 years later, I'm proud that you continue to visit and that I can still help people save money, have fun, and take advantage of the free stuff that companies offer us. Today, I'm still an avid couponer, product sample queen, and deal hunter living in San Francisco, CA.