6 Tips for Saving Money When Eating Out

I know in this fast paced world we live in today it’s a challenge to eat every meal at home.  Sometimes you simply run out of time so if you have to eat out here are some tips for saving a buck or two on every bill.  If every penny counts…every dollar counts a hundred times more!

Tip #1:  Pick a place that’s convenient.

Save on gas money (or taxi fare) by going to a restaurant near you.  Balance the travel cost with the menu prices, but I find all too often people will drive 15 minutes for a taco shack because it’s cheap, ignoring the two gallons of gas they pay for round trip.  The price of how much I’m paying for gasoline is always foremost in my mind since I have to drive such a long distance to work, I am acutely aware of how much each mile costs to drive.

Tip #2:  Pick a place that does not have a waiter bring you food.

Save on tip money by picking a place where you physically order and pick up your own food, if you have a choice.  I always tip my wait server 20% because I understand they do not make minimum wage and rely on tips to make up for that. But I prefer to save on tipping by just going to places that avoid having a wait staff.  An alternative is ordering food-to-go, so that you avoid the wait server fee as well.

Tip #3:  Check online for coupons or loyalty programs.

Check in advance online for food places around work and residence that offer coupons from: Groupons, Living Social, loyalty programs, website coupons, or discount times/days.  Also, consider signing up for loyalty rewards, for example MyPanera at Panera’s where you get a free cookie or a dollar discount every 2-3 times you visit.  You would be surprised by how even upscale places typically have some sort of discount, many times posted on their website. It also pays to sign up for their newsletter if they have one as they will send out periodic specials and coupons. chiplotles

Tip #4:  Order Water

Order water at all food spots always.  The mark-up on drinks is crazy.  Restaurants frequently charge $1.50-2.50 for a drink that the waiter may only refill once or twice.  Water is easy to drink with any meal, plus it’s free and healthy.  Just watch out for “water cup” charges…that’s kind of silly and in my opinion a poor business practice.

Tip #5:  Order the Less Expensive Meat

Order chicken instead of steak and cut your bill by a third, seriously.  Steaks tend cost at least $12 at restaurants for 6-8 ounce, and you can buy a whole pound for $3-9 at a grocery store (yes, that is twice as much for half the price).  Chicken and sometimes fish dishes are significantly less extensive at restaurants and are just as convenient to order as the steak.

Tip #6:  Pass on dessert.

Don’t waste your hard earned savings by passing on the drink and protein by splurging on dessert.  You can have your own at home made in minutes if you keep some packaged fruits or desserts on hand – maybe buy a box of brownie mix or cake mix when on sale.

How do you save money when going out to eat?  Any restaurant tricks I am missing?

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8 comments to 6 Tips for Saving Money When Eating Out

  • I always order water. Luckily I like water!
    Michelle recently posted..Life Updates and $3,232 in Extra IncomeMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Me, too! I always order water and I love water.

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  • I usually cut my meal in half right away to encourage myself to bring half home for the next day. It keeps the other half looking appetizing and less germy. I sometimes ask for a box right away to start keeping it fresher immediately.
    Deborah Collins recently posted..Is the Virgin Mary Appearing on Earth?My Profile

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    LOL, I’m sorry that sounds so funny!! Germy?! I guess that would be taking your spoon or fork and swishing through the food and getting saliva bacteria in that food? GOOD idea though and a great way to keep your portions down!! Thanks for the suggestion, Deborah!

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  • I always order water and then share a plate with my husband. Usually restaurants give you a lot of food anyways and we never finish.
    Tanya recently posted..Three Key Characteristics of a Smart Social Media PolicyMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Hi Tanya, I can really only remember sharing a plate one time. It was actually extremely embarrassing… an old boyfriend of mine took me to this super fancy restaurant but he truly had no clue what it was going to cost for us to eat there. As I recall, it was going to be around $25/plate, now remember this is about 20 years ago. I think all he had on him was $25 and we ordered a salad IIRC and had them split it. LOL!! It was one of those fancy pants restaurants and salad was three pieces of lettuce and two slices of tomatoes. I think they splurged and gave us two pieces of lettuce each and one tomato slice. Hilarious looking back on it. I have to say I was a bit traumatized so sharing plates has never been something I’ve wanted to do again. LOL. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Ordering water is a big one. The kids love soda but for 1.50-2.97 its just crazy and dont get started on the OJ. For the prices you think they have someone running to pick and squeeze them for you in the kitchen. My wifey is good about finding coupons for dining out. Some places have gotten picky about people sharing plates.
    Thomas recently posted..The Basics on How to Build a Better BudgetMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Thomas, that made me laugh about the orange grove in the kitchen. I know it’s nuts, isn’t it! Sounds like your wife is a good bargain hunter, that’s handy! 🙂

    [Reply]

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