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Tips To Save Cash When Eating Out At Restaurants

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(Photo by ALEXANDER KLEINAFPGetty Images)

(Photo by ALEXANDER KLEINAFPGetty Images)

On this week’s Money Saving Monday, we’re giving you tips on how to save cash when eating out at your favorite local restaurants!  Eating out at restaurants rather than eating at home can increase your monthly food budget a ton, but using some of these steps can at least reduce your bill when eating out by yourself or with your family.

*) Drink Tap Water: On average, a soda or tea costs about $1.75 – $2.00 not including tax.  If you choose water over buying a soda, your family (averaged with four people) saves you almost $1,000 each year! Plus, it’s a healthier option for you to drink!

*) Happy Hour Specials: While North Carolina and other states don’t offer ‘Happy Hour’ deals in their restaurants on drinks, some places still give you deals like 1/2 off appetizers or reduced-priced meals during certain parts of the day (typically from 5 – 7 PM).

*) Make A Food Calendar: When you go to a restaurant that offers a certain deal on each day of the week, write it down at home so that when you plan trips with your family to eat out, you can know which place offers the best deal.  Some restaurants do a daily deal where a drink and side are included in the price.

*) Split Your Dishes: Portion sizes have gotten to be rather large nowadays when you eat out.  Split your main course entree with someone else on a separate plate while each of you start with a side salad or appetizer.  Or, you can eat half of your entree and save the rest for lunch the next day.

*) Fill Up From The Free Food Items: Many places offer bread or even salad/soup with your meal.  You can eat these items and plan your entree to be a smaller size or cheaper based on how full you will get.

*) Get It To Go: To avoid paying a 18-20% tip on your bill, get the food to-go from the restaurant and eat it at home.  You should ALWAYS tip at least $1-3 dollars though on your to-go bill because they do work hard to get it prepared for you (especially if they do curb-side to-go…trust me, I’ve worked at these restaurants and they’d appreciate it!)

*) Choose the Alcohol Specials: Many restaurants offer deals throughout the week on certain beers, drafts, liquors, and shots that you can purchase at a reduced cost.  Branch out and try something new.  Or, don’t even get alcohol.  Prices at restaurants for alcohol are typically higher than when purchasing for yourself.

*) Make It A Tapa Party:  If you are with friends, have everyone order an appetizer or salad for everyone to split on separate plates and then divide the check by the total amount of people.  You’ll be surprised at your reduced total compared to the wide array of foods you got to eat!

*) Order from the Kids Menu: Make sure that you are allowed to order off the kids menu if you are not of age anymore. But when you aren’t as hungry, get a smaller portion from the kids menu so save on money. Some places even offer “Kids Eat Free” deals for your family!

*) Search For The Discount & Local Offers: Many sites like CBS Local offers offer discounts on popular restaurants in your area that you can widen your palate with new options in eating out.  Many restaurants also offer discounts to senior citizens, military personnel, cops/fire fighters, college students, kids/toddlers, and other demographics.

How do you save money when eating out? Let us know in the Comment Section below.

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