(1) Whenever possible, choose restaurants based on available discounts and coupons. Take time to check the internet, subscribe to daily deal sites, save coupons from the mail, follow your favorite places on Facebook and Twitter, join their birthday club, and more. At some restaurants, you can even text while already there to receive instant discounts. (Works for summer activities too!)
(2) Don’t order kids’ meals. Unless they are very hungry, search the menu for larger, satisfying meals that can be shared. For example, choose meals that come with 2 sides, plus bread. Have two family members split the main entrée, each choose one side, and share any extras. A family of 4 can often trim an additional $12+ off their bill this way. (Be sure to ask about any sharing charges first. And of course, this does not apply to buffets.)
(3) Check the cost of adding an extra side, instead of ordering a full meal or an appetizer. If someone is not very hungry, adding an extra side to someone else’s meal can be a cheap way to feed everyone.
(4) Order smaller portions. Most restaurants have ‘lunch’ or ‘half’ sizes available. This works especially well for entrée salads and meals that come with sides. You’ll likely still get plenty to eat, but trim $2+ off each person’s order.
(5) Skip dessert at the restaurant. If you crave dessert, stop at a store on the way home. The same $4+ price of many dessert selections at a restaurant can yield some dessert for everyone, instead of one small portion.
(6) Eat early – even ‘lunchtime’. Going early in the day can automatically cut your restaurant bill. Lunch or early bird pricing is usually much cheaper, with good portion size. Some restaurants serve ‘lunch’ as late as 4 p.m. and ‘early bird’ pricing as late as 6 p.m.
(7) Cut your meal in half immediately. Ask for a to-go box, and set half your meal in it before you start eating. A common weight-loss technique, this can yield money savings as well as calorie savings.
(8) Enjoy your soda, tea or coffee before you go. The price of beverages at restaurants is appalling. And adds up fast. So, to remove the temptation to order one, enjoy a glass before you go out. Then only order water.
With these few money savings tips, you can enjoy a nice meal out and enjoy a nice savings as well.
Written by: SavingsAngel Di (blog angel) on July 6, 2012.