5 Money Saving Tips for Dining Out

Fortune-Frugality

Frugality.

Not the most exciting advice from a fortune cookie.

Yet very few of us are immune to the economic woes of the past couple of years. One of the drawbacks of tight times means there is less discretionary income for fun things like dining out.

If you love restaurants as much as I do, cutting back on the number of restaurant visits is painful.

What’s a restaurant junkie to do? Here are a few tips that might help ease the pain.

1. Check local publications for coupons. Local newspapers, guides and the like often run coupons from local restaurants. Consider the 50 cents for the local newspaper as a good ROI for nabbing a 2-for-1 or $-off coupon.

2. Dine during happy hour or late at night. Most restaurants offer specials during hours that aren’t normally busy — yeah, who wants to eat at 5 or 10 p.m. but a deal is a deal.

3. Stick with the appetizer or starter section of the menu. Sure the portions are smaller than entrees, but would it kill us to eat a little lighter? Sometimes the most interesting items are tucked away here anyway.

4. Share an entree. Most entrees are big enough for at least 1-1/2 portions or even two. A small house salad and half an entree generally satisfies most people. I tend to overeat anyway, so this is an easy way to self-impose portion control.

5. Dine in small, independently owned ethnic restaurants. Now is the time to try that Ethiopian or Peruvian restaurant we’ve heard about from our foodie friends. Most often, the food is inexpensive yet packed with vibrant, exciting flavors. And it gives us an opportunity to explore another cuisine.

Bonus Tip:

Sign up for email newsletters from your favorite restaurants. Smart restaurants know that diners who sign up for email communications are potentially loyal fans, and they often send special offers just for their email subscribers.

I just received a $5 off coupon in an email from one of my favorite restaurants. Since the most expensive entree at this restaurant is $15, that’s a pretty good deal.

Following your favorite restaurants on Twitter is another way to find out about specials.

Tell me, did I leave out one of your favorite money saving tips? Leave a comment.

1 reply
  1. Outside Oslo
    Outside Oslo says:

    Thanks for sharing. The restaurants need business, too, right? It can be tricky to balance watching money and eating out, but I think it’s possible if one is conscientious and intentional.

    For example, one might save a lot of money by planning occasions for eating out, rather than using it as a backup plan for nights when one hasn’t gotten around to figuring out what’s for dinner. I know, it’s easier said than done, but–at least for me–it’s a good reminder now and then.

    Reply

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