It seems that everyone is tightening their belts these days, thanks to an ever increasing difficult economy. If eating out is still on your budget at all, you likely want to eat out as inexpensively as you can. Here are a few tricks to slash your restaurant bill by as much as 50 percent!
- Skip the sodas. Water is better for your body and is free at 99 percent of the restaurants at which you’ll dine. Sure, a soda is a nice thing to have from time to time, but is it really worth spending an additional $2 or more per person? You’d be better off drinking water with lemon and then stopping and getting a Polar Pop or other inexpensive soda after your meal. You can purchase a 2-liter of soda for around $1.50 and serve the entire family.
- Feast on Appetizers. Appetizers are often large enough for a meal, because they are meant to be shared. However, they are typically 25 percent less than an entree. Sometimes, you’ll save even more than that! Our family likes to order several different versions and share. We usually have leftovers too, which makes a nice lunch the next day.
- Ask the server about the kids’ menu. Even if your children are older or you don’t have children, many restaurants will still let you order off the children’s menu. The portion sizes are much closer to what you should be eating and the prices can be as much as 50 percent less. Many children’s meals come with a drink as well. Places like Cracker Barrel offer their children’s menu for “kids of all ages”. But most will accommodate you if you only ask.
- Carry out. Consider carrying out meals form your favorite restaurant instead of dining in. First, you won’t be tempted to go ahead and order a soda or dessert. Second, you’ll save money you would have spent on a tip. A typical tip is around 15 percent, so by carrying your meal out of the restaurant, you automatically shave that amount off your bill.
- Use coupons. Coupons can be found in the newspaper and in the fliers that arrive in your mailbox. Sometimes you can locate coupons for your favorite restaurants on-line or through publications like the Entertainment book, which more than pays for itself over the course of a year. Also, look for opportunities to buy discount cards and peelies from local organizations doing fund raising efforts.
- Know your local restaurant promotions. Many restaurants offer kids eat free nights or discount appetizers. One local restaurant offers half price appetizers from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Friday. Our family can then eat for about 75 percent less than we normally would. This is a great deal. Other restaurants offer daily specials, two fer one deals and other offers. Ask the manager of your favorite restaurant and watch newspaper promotions. You can often purchase discount gift cards at restaurant.com too, which can save you even more. Just be sure you read the details carefully as some have limitations.
- Choose a restaurant that serves freebies. If the restaurant serves free chips and salsa, bread or other items for free, you’ll save overall on your bill because you won’t need to order nearly as much food. Try to fill up on the freebies and take leftovers home for another meal.
- Cook at home. Obviously, one of the best ways to save money is to cook at home. You can get copy cat recipes from your favorite restaurants at sites like CopyKat Recipes.