You would think with a toddler who does everything at 100% of max volume, our dining out expenses would be low. Wrong. Although we certainly aren’t enjoying any fine dining accompanied by classical music, we are big takeout fans. It usually happens on the weekends or on nights when I’m exhausted by 5 p.m.
In an attempt to cut down our dining out expenses, I rounded up a few tips to help without cutting out restaurants altogether.
- Skip the drinks.
Even if you’re not drinking alcohol, having a glass of tea or soda costs a fortune. At about $2 each, just order water and stop at the grocery for a nicer beverage afterward.
- Share an entrée.
One person can order an appetizer or side dish, while the other orders an entrée and a side. Appetizers and sides typically cost way less than entrees, and you’ll still have plenty of food to share with the large size of entrees. Another trick is to order an appetizer and a dessert to share, and skip the entrees completely.
- Find out where kids eat free.
If you have kids, make a list of the restaurants that offer free kids meals and on what nights these deals are. Who wants to pay $5 for a kids meal that your kids just pick at anyway?
- Serve yourself or get takeout.
Carrying out your food or choosing a restaurant where you do not have waiter means you eliminate or at least minimize the tip.
- Consider discount cards.
If you eat at local restaurants pretty frequently, consider purchasing a discount card that is usually sold by school organizations. With 3 or 4 restaurant visits, you will recoup the cost of the discount card/book, and save a ton on your favorite restaurants.
- Keep an eye out for coupons.
The Wednesday and Sunday newspapers both typically have restaurant coupons. Clip these even if you aren’t sure you will use them. Then, if you have a fierce craving for a meal not made with your own two hands, you can still save.
What other tricks do you have for saving cash when eating out?