By: Jessica Morales
Dining out is an infrequent luxury for most of us since the economy slowed down. The budget just won’t allow for the frequent visits to our favorites eateries that we once enjoyed. However, there are many ways to stretch our monthly restaurant budget so we can dine out more often. Use these tips for saving money when dining out so you can relax and let someone else do the cooking for you.
Most chain restaurants, as well as local eateries, place money-saving coupons in the local newspaper or other print publications to attract new customers. Those coupons can garner you two meals for the price of one, or a free dessert, beverage or other free food item and stretch your dining-out budget.
If your favorite restaurant doesn’t offer coupons, the establishment probably does offer in-house specials. The daily special, chef’s special, two-4-one special or early bird special can typically be enjoyed for about half the price of a regularly priced menu offering. Ask the server what the special of the day is before ordering, or call ahead and ask. It just might tempt your taste buds while leaving money in your wallet.
Many local and chain restaurants have their own websites that may be hiding an unadvertised money-saving special. Check online to see if your eating destination has a website and you just might score a printable coupon or code that will save you some money. Do a little restaurant website research and you just may discover certain nights when kids can eat free or a person having a birthday can eat free on their respective birthday.
Don’t be discouraged if your favorite bistro or deli does not have a website with money saving offers, there are other online websites that may be able to offer you discounts. People often receive gift cards to places they can’t go or don’t want to go and offer them for sale at discounted prices on certain online venues. Check online for websites that buy, sell and trade unwanted gift cards to help you save money when dining out.
Split an Entrée
In this era of ‘super-sized’ everything, many entrées consist of enough food for two people or two meals, especially if an appetizer has been enjoyed before the entrée arrived. Order one entrée and two plates so two can eat for the price of one. Most restaurants are willing to accept this practice if two drinks are ordered for the one meal. Ask in advance if you’re unsure. One entrée can also be split into two meals so you can eat twice and pay once. When you place your order, ask your server to bring a to-go box, then when your entrée arrives immediately divide it into two portions and place one in the to-go box to take home. The out-of-sight food will help you be kind to your waistline by enabling you to eat less today and be kind to your wallet and watch tomorrow by allowing you to have an already prepared and paid-for meal waiting on you.
Jessica Morales writes about all things related to finance. Her recent work is about the Top 10 Most Affordable Online Colleges.