Everyone knows the best way to save money on meals is to prepare them at home. However, sometimes you need a break from the prep and, of course, clean up. With tempting appetizers, entrées, drinks and desserts, it is easy to run up the bill at a restaurant so we have compiled our best money-saving tips for you to devour before dining out.
Share a Meal
In general, restaurant portion sizes are undeniably large. Use this to your advantage by picking an entrée that you and your companion both love and ask for an extra plate. You might not leave with leftovers but dividing the food will help keep costs down and prevent you from overeating.
Let's Do Lunch
Many establishments offer smaller portions and lunch specials earlier in the day. As an alternative, ordering a few appetizers instead of an entrée can also result in savings and is a great way to sample multiple dishes.
Skip the Drinks
It may seem simple but drinking water with your meal can save you significantly. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are always marked up and, let’s face it, sources of empty calories anyway.
By getting it to-go, you will be less likely to splurge on a drink or dessert, and you’ll save on the tip. Plus, there’s something amazing about eating a delicious meal while in the comfort of your own home.
Cash in on local events and promotions to finally try that fancy bistro that’s usually over your budget. You’ll likely be choosing from pre-selected menu items but they often throw in an appetizer or dessert as a bonus. Who doesn’t love that?
OK, we may be a little biased but we love coupons! And they aren’t just for groceries and drug store purchases. Check your mailbox, inbox and social media feeds for exclusive deals from your favorite places. Plan ahead by visiting the eatery’s website in advance and you just might find even more savings.
Discounted Gift Cards
Choose when and where to save by purchasing discounted gift cards from reputable sites or kiosks. As the name implies, they make convenient gifts too! Remember to treat the card like cash by keeping it in a safe place and always beware of scams.
Grab the Leftovers
Stretch your investment by taking your leftovers home for a great next-day lunch. Depending on what you ordered and how much is remaining, you could even repurpose some of the ingredients into a new recipe. For example, serve leftover grilled chicken over a fresh chopped salad.
If you can stomach the possibility of an embarrassing serenade by the wait staff, inform your server that you are celebrating a birthday. It just might land you a free dessert or meal. Some restaurants offer freebies and perks for loyal customers through birthday clubs – just ask!
What other money-saving ideas do you have while dining out? Share them with us on Facebook.