Frugal Tips

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How to Save Money at a Restaurant

Nov-2-2017 By Frugal 101

If you live on a tight budget, going out to restaurant is probably the last thing on your list. However, if you know some tips, you can still go out once in awhile and have fun without spending too much cash. Here are my tips how to save money when you go out to eat:

First of all, consider going to a restaurant for a late lunch instead of dinner. Lunch prices are usually much lower. In many cultures the main meal is eaten in the middle of the day (2-3 o’clock). It is much healthier for you, because you give your body time to process your food and burn energy. Studies show that people who eat dinner earlier are usually not obese. And we all know that obesity is a cause of a number of health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, varicose veins and so on.

Another benefit of going out for late lunch is avoiding the crowds. Late afternoon is usually the least busy time in restaurants, so you wouldn’t have to wait for 30 minutes for your table and will be able to talk to each other without shouting.

Second of all, split a meal, especially if you didn’t follow my first advice and went out for dinner instead of late lunch. Restaurant portions are humongous. One meal is usually more than enough for two. There is not need to stuff yourself like a pig when you are going out. Also, if it is a date, don’t you think it is romantic to share a meal? I do.

Avoid buying alcoholic beverages in restaurants. They are ridiculously overpriced. Either skip alcohol or look for a BYOB restaurant.

The same goes for deserts. I don’t think you can bring your own cake to any restaurant in the United States, so it is better to avoid them completely. Sometimes deserts cost more than a meal. If a waiter is offering you a desert and there is no price in the menu, don’t be ashamed to ask. Being frugal is hip these days. If you HAVE to have a desert, split it.

Don’t buy soda or juice at a restaurant, unless it is some exotic restaurant with unique juices. You really don’t need to pay $2 for a glass of plain apple juice, which is half-filled with ice or $2.50 for a glass of Pepsi.

Look for coupons before you go out. I have friends who use coupons every time they shop for food or clothing, but they never use restaurant coupons. You can often find restaurant coupons in Sunday papers, or mailers. Bigger restaurants have coupons online which you can print before going. Some coupons are really good. Such as buy one meal, get one free. This way you wouldn’t have to split a meal and use leftovers for the next meal.

Sites like Restaurant.com sell restaurant certificates at great discounts. The last certificate I scored was $10 off any $25 order. I got it for $3. My only problem with Restaurant.com is that the choice of restaurants is very limited. We live in a small city, and there is only one restaurant we like which is featured on their site. If you are in a bigger city, you may have more luck.

Before you go, try to define the purpose of your visit. If you just want to have a good time, consider eating at home and then going out for an appetizer or coffee. If your main purpose is eating, then maybe you could prepare a meal and enjoy it at home. It can be fun too. Especially if you are doing it with a partner.

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  1. Food and Drink Specials Said,

    Good post. I don’t always agree with avoiding alcoholic beverages. A lot of bars and restaurants have food and drink specials, sometimes cheaper than a soda.

    A good resource for specials is http://www.specialsagent.com, you can enter your location and it brings up all the food and drink specials near you

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