You don’t have to skip dining out to save money! These tips will show you how to dine out on a budget and still enjoy your favorite restaurants.
Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase.
When you are trying to cut expenses, you don’t have to cut out all the fun things. These are my favorite tips for saving money when dining out. Every little bit helps!
1. Cut your meal in half
When you get your meal, set aside half of it. Save the other half to take home for lunch or dinner the next day. Oftentimes, restaurant portions are larger than we can eat in one sitting anyway!
2. Skip the appetizers
Restaurant meal portions are often huge, so skip the appetizer and save $5-$10 off your total bill.
3. Share your meal
- Order an entree and split it with your significant other.
- Instead of ordering a kid’s meal, let your young child have a portion of yours. (Why pay $6 for the 2 bites they’ll eat of the kid’s meal?)
- Order one dessert and two spoons instead of individual desserts.
4. Order an appetizer as your meal
Appetizers often come at a smaller price than meals, and can be just as filling.
5. Choose water
Sodas easily run $2-3 a piece, and alcholic beverages are even more. Swapping everyone’s drink for water could take $10 off your bill!
6. Get Social
Check out your favorite places on social media. Many places offer specials and announce deals on their social media channels.
7. Go at lunch time
Portions are often smaller but so are the prices!
8. Look for Kids Eat Free nights
Usually you’ll get a kid’s meal free for each adult meal purchased. I’ve seen kid’s meal specials at both fast food chains and restaurants. Some offer the free meal on a specific day of the week; others offer the free meal at a certain time of the month. It’s an easy way to cut $10 or more (depending on how many kids you have) off your total bill.
Passionate Penny Pincher has compiled a great list of places, broken down by day: 87 Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free.
9. Look for coupons
There are tons of places you can find coupons for your favorite restaurants and fast food places such as:
- Entertainment books: These coupon books offer discounts on shopping, restaurants, and local activities. With all the offers in these, you’ll save way more than the cost of the book.
- Coupon Mailers/Magazines: Those pesky flyers that come in the mail? They are often filled with coupons for fast food restaurants, pizza places, and restaurants.
- Groupon: This site/app is a great place to find local deals. Find deals on activities, restaurants, and more!
10. Take it home
Instead of sitting down to enjoy your meal, order it to-go! Most restaurants offer this service now. You’ll save on the costs of drinks and the temptation of ordering appetizers/desserts.
11. Join rewards programs
If you have a restaurant that is your go-to place, see if they have a rewards club. Rewards clubs allow you to accumulate points to redeem for food rewards or others accumulate meals to redeem for a free meal. (Such as get a free burger after 10 burgers)
12. Sign up for the newsletter
Check out if your favorite restaurant offers a newsletter. They often email unadvertised deals, coupons, and specials.
13. Go on your birthday
Why not take advantage of your special day with some free grub?
Thrillist has a great list of places to get free food on your birthday: 75 Restaurants That Give You Free Food On Your Birthday. Don’t see your favorite place on the list? Even small non-chain restaurants often offer specials, give them a call!
14. Combine multiple tips for the most savings
Use several of these tips in the same visit to maximize your savings!