Sunday, January 26, 2014

Top 11 Tips on How to Save Money and Still Dine Out

Top 11 Tips on How to Save Money and Still Dine Out
By []Amy L Fields 

Going out to eat can be a fun experience for you and your family, but it certainly can be expensive. So what can you do to save big bucks while dining out? 

#1 First thing would be to find a coupon. Scour your local newspaper inserts for coupons to local restaurant chains. Check your mailbox for ValPak coupon inserts. Often times they will have restaurant coupons. Look online for discount coupons. Check out money saving blogs and coupon sites (, is a good one).

#2 Visit your favorite restaurants online and sign up for emails and often times you will receive free food items and notifications of specials or deals. Visit to purchase gift certificates to local restaurants at a fraction of the cost. You can often find a promo code for this site that you can use at checkout to save even more.

*When you use a coupon or gift certificate be sure to read the fine print. Some are for dinner only, others may be valid for a specific food item. Check the expiration date. Nothing is more frustrating that going to use a coupon and discovering it is expired!

#3 If you have kids, visit restaurants that offer free kids meals. Some offer them every day of the week, others specific days and times. Again, check each restaurant's website or visit to find a listing of free kids meal offers in your area.

#4 Timing is everything. Did you know at most restaurants they offer a lunch menu with many of the same items on the dinner menu for a lot less? Think early bird special. Eat your dinner early, usually before 4 or 5 pm and you can save a good 20% off your bill.

#5 Think drinks. I am not referring to alcoholic drinks (we all know those are always pricey) but I am referring to fountain drinks and the like. The cost of the typical beverage at most chain restaurants run about $2.50 or so with free refills. Not too bad if you drink a lot during your meal. But an even better way to save is to skip the fountain drinks and opt for ice water. 

Think about it. Let's say you and your family (totaling 4 people) each get a drink, that will cost you upwards of $10 on your bill. Not a big water fan? Order water and bring a stick of beverage flavoring, like Crystal Light to mix into your drink. Or order a cup of hot water and bring your own tea bag or pack of instant coffee. 

#6 Split a large entree with another member of your party. I don't know about you, but often times an entree is entirely too much for me to eat by myself. I usually end up taking left overs home for the next day. But if you want to save some cash, consider sharing. You can ask the waiter for the entree split on two plates or do it your self and just ask for an extra plate brought to the table.

#7 Eat an appetizer as your main dish. The appetizers can be quite large, usually less expensive than an entree and could be a good alternative.

#8 Ask if they offer free bread, biscuits or chips for the table. Think Red Lobster. They have the best biscuits and will bring you a free basket for your table with refills! I often times get full just on the biscuits and a salad and end up taking most of my meal home. 

#9 Order off the kid's menu. Some restaurants, like Cracker Barrel will let anyone order off their kids menu regardless of age. If you have a smaller appetite that just might be the thing for you. You will get a smaller portion at a less expensive price.

#10 If you are a senior citizen, take full advantage of this. Check the menu or ask your server if they offer senior discounts or if they have a special senior priced menu selection. IHOP offers this. 

# 11 Free desserts. Many restaurants offer FREE desserts for your birthday. You will likely get a cheesy song performed by the servers to go along with the dessert, but, hey! Free food is free food. Isn't a free warm brownie with ice cream and hot fudge worth a few seconds of humiliation? 

Think about all the ideas I just mentioned. Combine two or more of these money saving options and you can get a great meal out for a lot less. Mangia! (That's Italian for EAT!)

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Article Source: [] Top 11 Tips on How to Save Money and Still Dine Out

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