Eating out for Cheap

When I was a little girl, we rarely ate out. My Mom would cook every meal at home.  Sometimes after church on Saturday night, we would get to have dinner at Mazzios Pizza, which was pretty exciting.  But, boy have times changed! With the advent of fast food, eating out has become an almost everyday occurrence.  However, dining out frequently can be hard on your budget since more often than not, it’s cheaper to eat at home. how to save money dining out

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But, why should you eat at home?  You work hard and your family deserves to eat out if that’s what you enjoy, right? But it isn’t any fun eating out when you are worried about how much the check will be. Do you find yourself reading the menu from right to left checking the prices first and then scan back to the left to see what the food is? If so, then there are several ways to dine out and stay within your budget.

Choose wisely

Select a restaurant you can afford.  Sure it’s nice to eat in a fancy restaurant but you can get just as full in a reasonably priced café with delicious food with friendly service.  If you’re a big eater, an all you can eat buffet may be right for you.

Daily Specials

Some restaurants offer specials on certain days of the week or discounts for eating early.  Be sure to check online or on Yelp for details.  If you’re a senior citizen they may have senior specials that offer smaller portions at a saving.

Happy Hour

If it’s date night (with no kids), try the happy hour bar specials.  For the price of a drink, you can usually get a couple of appetizers as a meal.

One Meal for Two

You might also try just splitting one meal, especially if the portions are large. Most restaurants these days are happy to have your business and will be glad to bring you an extra plate.

Birthday Meal

Some restaurants offer free meals on your birthday. In some cases, you may need to prove it is your special day. how to save money dining out

Kids Eat Free

If you do have kids, some places have kids eat free nights. Be sure to check before heading out. No one likes those kinds of surprises.


If you have leftovers take it home and eat it later getting two meals for the price of one. Just don’t forget and leave your box of food on the table!

Skip It

Practice skipping when dining out.  Yeah, that’s right – skipping! Sure, it would be good exercise but try skipping a drink such as iced tea or coke and skipping dessert.  Drinks can add more than four dollars to the check for just two people. Order water instead and freshen it up with lemon and maybe a little Stevia or sugar.

Just Dessert Please

You might eat dinner at home and go out for dessert. Just be careful at the yogurt bar (& don’t forget to take the coupons!). You might also decide to have Dessert at home as well. Pick up a half gallon of ice cream on the way home for dessert – and for the rest of the week. how to save money dining out


Buying an Entertainment Book that usually offers buy one get one free meals can be real money saver for the whole year. I have used these books; we tend to pick where we eat by which coupons we have still. Don’t forget, if you have Ebates, you can earn a reward when you buy the book. (Read more about Ebates here).

You can also get discounted coupons online at sites like Again, remember to use Ebates here too! how to save money dining out

Loyalty Apps

Many restaurants offer a loyalty app. You simply download it and scan it every time you eat. Once you earn a certain number of points you are rewarded with free food. We have saved a ton of money with a few apps from places we frequent.

Discount Gift Cards

You can purchase discount gift cards to your favorite restaurants at warehouse stores. Just be sure to store them in your wallet and only buy those you will really use.

Check Your Receipt

Lastly, be sure to check your receipt. Some offer a free meal or a reward if you take a survey about your dining experience. how to save money dining out

Your dining experience should be fun and affordable. With a little planning and restraint dining out you can always enjoy yourself and not worry about blowing your budget.

I hope you enjoyed these dining tips. Be sure to check out my food boards and other money saving tips on Pinterest! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for lots more money saving goodness! how to save money dining out

How to eat out cheap