21 Ways to Save Money at a Restaurant All Food-Goers Should Know

How to Save Money at Restaurants

Do you spend 3 to 4 times a week, or more, eating at a restaurant? Or do you just go to a restaurant casually a couple of times a month? Whether you are a keen or just a casual food-goer, eating at restaurants can drain your pocket.

So, how do you keep a regular dine-out at a restaurant with as little money as possible? Find out 21 ways to save money at a restaurant cleverly on the following page.

How to Save Money at Restaurants

1. Keep Half of Your Meal for Later

Saving half of your meal can help you cut expenses when eating at a restaurant. So, make sure that you ask for a to-go box just before your food is served on your table. Once you get the food, you can stash half of it in the to-go box you ordered earlier.

In this way, you can enjoy the food later at home or for lunch tomorrow. It also means that you can get 2 meals for the price of one.

2. Use Coupons

You can always use coupons to get a discount on the food you order. It is not shameful. In fact, it is a great way to save money while enjoying your favorite foods.

To get the coupons, you can sign up for them. Then, your favorite restaurants send you email alerts. To avoid annoying a cluttered inbox, you can create an email address specially used for the coupons.

3. Lunch Date is Cheaper

Instead of dinner, switch to a lunch date at a restaurant to save your money. A lunch date is not only much more affordable but it is also possible for you to enjoy extras such as salad or soup. You can get the extras along with the meal at much cheaper prices if compared to the main dish served at dinnertime.

4. Skip Beverages

When you are at a restaurant, keep in mind that you go there for the food, not soda, tea, or coffee. A cup of water is more than enough.

So, the next time you decide to dine in at a restaurant, make sure that you ask for a cup of water. Most restaurants serve it for free. This will make it possible for you to cut off roughly 3 bucks per person.

5. Birthday Discount is Fun

If it is your birthday, order something special at your favorite restaurant. Lucky you that many restaurants offer birthday discounts for visitors now.

No matter how many people eat at your table to celebrate your birthday, you can multiply it by the total number of people you invite. All you need to do is sign up for an online birthday club at a restaurant where you want to celebrate your special day.

6. Forget the Appetizer

Skipping an appetizer can be a great option to take if you want to save money at a restaurant. It is something possible to do especially if the restaurant you choose offers free chips, bread, or salsa. With the free offering, you can cut off your expenses up to at least $9.

7. Share with a Friend

To save money, you can also share a meal with your friend or sibling. Keep in mind that portions of a meal in the United States are usually big enough for one person, enabling you to share it with someone.

Even if you share your meal, you can still order an extra side to get you fuller while saving money at the same time.

8. Know Coffee Shop Hacks

Indeed, a coffee shop is not a restaurant. But, many people spend a lot of money for just a cup of drive-through coffee before going to the office. You can save some cash on your favorite coffee by ordering through an app. This will allow you to score rewards points.

9. Get It to Go

If you want to have a date at minimum costs, you can get your food to go, instead of dining in. Make it an affordable but fun date by eating the food at home while watching a movie rental.

But keep in mind that instead of 20%, tip the takeout person around 10%. This is because the takeout person spends about 5 minutes wrapping your food. There will be no an-hour filling of drinks or unlimited salsa to enjoy like if you dine in the restaurant.

10. Order Kids’ Menu

Ordering from the kids' menu is one of the 21 ways to save money at a restaurant. The portions offered are quite large for adults and of course, the price is cheaper.

However, keep in mind to respect any age limits owned by the restaurant. This is because not all restaurants come with a special menu for kids.

11. Go on Monday or Tuesday

Going to restaurants on Monday or Tuesday can help you save some money. This is because the first few days of the week are usually slow for restaurants. In this way, special prices are often offered to customers these days for cheap burgers, $10 pizzas, all-you-can-eat wings, and more.

12. Skip Major Holidays

During major holidays, fixed-price menus are quite common. An entree can reach $49 per person during major holidays. Just compare to the entrée cost that you have to pay on a regular day which only costs $15 per person.

13. Save Your Lunch Money

If you used to spend money for lunch at a restaurant five times a week, then try to make some budget-friendly dinners from now on.

You can bring the leftovers from your dinners to work the next morning. After that, make sure that you save the money so you can use it for a quality meal at a restaurant later.

14. Stay Away from Sports Bar

Instead of watching your favorite sports matches in a bar, do it at home to save your money. If you watch the games at home, snacks are pre-purchased. But, in a bar, chances are you will eat mindlessly while watching the game, causing you to spend even more money.

15. Choose Restaurants that Offer Free Meals for Kids

Many restaurants out there come with free meal options, at least almost free, for kids under 12. However, these offerings are not given every day, just on certain nights per week.

16. "Happy Hour", Happy Pocket

If you still want to have an appetizer and save your money at the same time, you can try this clever trick. Take your dinner on the early side to allow you to have half-priced appetizers. Then, you can use them as your entrée. However, make sure that you check the prices of the "happy hour" since different restaurants have different rules.

17. Stick on Your Plans for Outings

Planning your dinner outings will be very helpful in saving money. In this way, make sure that you look at what you have got going on at the start of each week.

Prioritize outings based on the plans you have made before and stick to them. Then, make sure that you eat at home for the rest of the week.

18. Avoid Impulse Buys

Quick impulse buys are one of the main reasons you spend more than you have planned. These can be last-minute pizza deliveries or easy drive-through orders.

19. Prepare to Tip

Sticking on your budget when having dinner at a restaurant doesn’t mean that you can skimp on tipping. So, make sure that you prepare to tip when going to a restaurant.

If you don’t want to tip, make sure that you pick up a restaurant like Chipotle that doesn’t have waiters to serve the food.

20. Order Desserts Only

If you want to spend less while going out, you can eat at home and only order desserts when in a restaurant. As an alternative, you can just get coffee.

21. Stick on Your Budget

One of the 21 ways to save money at a restaurant is by always doing a budget and sticking to it. Make sure that you create your budget at the beginning of the month. Interestingly, there will be many apps to choose from that can help you with this task.