Dining outside the home is a simple pleasure but thanks to the times or personal circumstances, it sometimes is beyond us – not, however, if you know some clever ways to eat out for cheap. Don’t worry, none of these involve you scoffing your face and running away once you get the bill – although I did seriously see that suggested somewhere! Please don’t ever do that because these ways to eat out for cheap are all legit and easy!
1. Ask for Tap Water
Although you might feel a bit out of place ordering tap water in a restaurant, it is one of my favorite ways to eat out for cheap when budgets are a little tight. Your server might be a little annoyed that your check will be reduced, and thus their tip will be reduced, but when you consider that a $2 soda often costs the establishment a few cents, I’d rather not feel ripped off.
2. Check for Offers
Lots of restaurants, knowing people’s budgets are tight, offer specials on their menus. Often these meals are just as good as the others, but offer a smaller selection for a more reasonable price. Ask your server if there are any special offers on, and maybe club together with the other people dining to share some side orders.
3. Skip Dessert
When you’ve splashed out on a nice dinner, do you really need to eat dessert? Not only will your waistline thank you for skipping the brownies and ice cream, but you can eat out without spending a fortune. If everyone else is ordering dessert and you don’t want to be left out, perhaps order a coffee or a small ice cream – not too expensive, yet you won’t be pestered about why you aren’t eating with them.
4. The Early Bird Gets the…cheapest Prices
Arriving before 6pm will often mean that your meals are reduced, as restaurants want to fill the lull between lunch and dinner. Sometimes the savings can be quite extensive, so although it might inconvenience your dining partners, it is still one of the best ways of dining out on a shoestring.
5. Take Your Leftovers with You
A great way to eat out for cheap is to ask for the leftovers. If you’re paying for your meal, you are paying for everything on your plate. Ask to take the rest of your unfinished food home, and then reheat it for lunch the next day! It effectively turns a pricey restaurant meal into two meals.
6. Book Online
It will vary from establishment to establishment, but if you are looking for tips to eat out for cheap, book your table online in advance. Some restaurants offer special deals or discounts to patrons who book online, as they know that they will fill their tables that evening.
7. Share Your Food
A great tip for eating out on a budget is to order food to share with your dining companions. If you don’t want a whole extra side of garlic bread, see if someone else will split it with you. The same goes for dessert – not everyone can finish a huge meal, so most people are probably willing to split the food for a fraction of the cost.
8. Use Restaurants with Loyalty Rewards Programs
Try to dine in restaurants which have loyalty cards/stamps. That way, the more often you dine, the greater your discount will be!
9. Be Conscious of the Tip
An American custom is to tip servers, usually around 20% of the total check. However, make sure that a tip isn’t included in your price – you don’t want to end up paying double the tip simply because you are paying 20% of a check which already has a service charge included.
Even when you only have a small entertainment budget, you can still enjoy eating out if you try a few of these tips and tricks. Do you restrict the times you dine out with friends or family, or do you eat out more than you cook at home?