Eating out is a great way to celebrate a special occasion, get together with old friends, go on a date or just for a change of pace. However, eating out can get expensive very fast.
Naturally, one of the best way to save money at restaurants is to avoid them. Cooking at home is usually the cheapest way to eat. Second, many people consider restaurant dining as a time to pamper themselves - and don't want to skimp.
Still, we try to order the less expensive entrees on the menu to cut costs. Unfortunately, while entrees may not look expensive, once you've added drinks, appetizers, desserts and a tip, you could be looking at a hefty bill.
Here are 16 strategies to save money and still eat a satisfying meal.
1. Set a Budget
By setting a budget before you get to the restaurant, you face the decision of, "Can I afford to order this?" You can focus on those portions of the menu that fit within your budget, so you won't spend more than you really should.
2. Eat During Off Hours
Happy hour isn't just for drinks. Many restaurants offer discounted appetizers and lower-priced meals before or after their busiest hours. Call ahead and ask about these specials. Also consider eating lunch out instead of dinner. You often can order the same meal for half or a third of the dinner price.
3. Make a Meal of Appetizers
Meals created from many small dishes are called tapas in Spain and dim sum in China. Here we call them appetizers and combining several of these smaller portions can provide enough food for a meal while offering variety. Order a few to share and the total bill will be about half the price.
16. Use Coupons
Special deals are everywhere these days as restaurants try to lure customers. Restaurant coupons are one of the most popular and easy to use promotional strategies. Tell the server you're using a restaurant coupon before you order and make sure the coupon will apply to your selections.
The free Coupon Sherpa mobile app brings hundreds of in-store coupons to your purse or pocket. Learn more and download the exclusive mobile app today.Mobile Coupons
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