There are lots of ways to save money when dining out, and still have a great meal. It's easy to spend loads when you're eating out; by the time you've added on all the little extras your bill can double. You may want to splash out for a special meal, but at other times you'll want to keep the bill down. So how do you avoid a nasty shock when you ask for the bill? Here are some ways to save money when dining out …
1. Set Meal and Specials
One of the best ways to save money when dining out is to order a set meal. This way you'll know exactly what the bill will be, providing you don't order too many drinks. A set meal is usually pretty good value and although the portions won't be large, it should be ample enough to fill you up. Also look out for the specials that day.
2. Two Courses
Do you automatically order starter, main course and dessert, and end up too full to finish all your food? Try ordering just two courses instead, either starter + main or main + dessert. It'll probably be more than enough, and you'll save some $$. Or if you're not that hungry, you could ask if you can order two starters instead of starter + main course.
3. No Alcohol
Order alcoholic drinks and you'll bump up your bill, especially if you also order a soft drink to quench your thirst. Even soft drinks can be quite expensive, so ask for tap water to drink with your meal. Save ordering other drinks for when you're just drinking and not eating as well.
Look in your local paper or online and see if there are any coupons for local restaurants. You probably won't find your favorite restaurant included but you'll be able to eat out at a cheaper price.
5. Don't Order Too Much
It can be tempting to order everything on the menu, especially if it all looks tasty. But you can keep your bill down by not ordering too much food. Do you really need wine, bread, and multiple side dishes? Start with the minimum; you can always order more if you're really hungry.
Is there a restaurant that you'd love to try, but it's just too expensive? Check out their lunch menu. An expensive restaurant is normally much more affordable if you go there for lunch. Again, stick to the set menu and don't order drinks, which will be as expensive as normal (unless there's one included in the price of the meal).
7. Have Dessert Elsewhere
You can also keep your bill down by not ordering dessert. Don't feel obliged to have one just because you're handed the menu. Some restaurants don't have very inspiring desserts anyway, particularly cuisines where dessert is not commonly eaten. Get a pastry from a bakery, or have dessert at home.
You can still have an enjoyable meal without spending a fortune. Don't economise on your meal by leaving a meagre tip though. That's the wrong way to save! Give your server a decent tip if you're dining in the States, as they depend on tips for their income. Where would you most like to eat if money was no object?