Eating Out Cheap! Restaurant Guide! | The Savings Wife

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eating Out Cheap! Restaurant Guide!

For our Family of Six sometimes eating out can be a large Budget Drain.   Here are our tips that lets you save while eating out!

  • Set a budget for eating out!  A good way to do this is to carry cash and set a budget for eating out.  Pay only with the cash set aside for dining out and check the envelope before you decide to eat out.  It's a lot easier to hold yourselves accountable if there is a visual reminder of whether you can afford to eat out or not.  Eating at home will most always be cheaper so save those eat out days for those days when you might just burn the kitchen if you cook.   Need another motivation not to eat out as often?  Eating out is almost never healthy!  Another tip is to only allow yourself to eat out a certain number of times per week.  We eat at Moes on Sunday and then only one other time between Sundays.

  • Bring a coupon!  Most restaurants will offer a coupon with sign up of email programs. Some you can find in your local paper or clipper magazine.   Frequency cards are available for some restaurants ask at the counter.   Don't forget to check backs and bottoms of receipts by doing survey's on your purchase you can get discounts to free meals by providing feedback. 

  • Get Water Instead!  One way to save a lot of money, usually around $2.00 each drink, is to drink water instead.  A good rule is to try the water  to see if the water is any good before you purchase a soda.  Most get water out of the machine which is filtered. Only with free kids meals do my kids get the choice of beverage. Some restaurants will charge you for a cup. 
  • Is the Adult meals a better Deal?  We love Olive Garden but Kids Meals are really expensive. What we do is order them an adult Pizza instead, which they split between 3 of them. I have one that will not eat Pizza so we get him Chicken Strips instead.  We also get them the salad and bread sticks.   Oh and they get Water to drink!  Price difference: ~16.00 for 3 kids meals or ~$12 for create your own pizza.  Don't forget your coupons and usually you can knock some off of your adult entree also!
  • Refill?  For places like Olive Garden and Moe's they offer free refills on food.   Load up on Salad at Olive Garden and take your entree home for another meal.   Moe's offers free refills on chips and salsa so you can order Jr burrito for less money.  Driving on a long trip don't forget to ask for a to go Cup for your drink or ask at the counter for a drink refill.  It is usually cheaper than stopping by the gas station to grab a bottle and most will do it for free. 
  • Pass the Bread! Some restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen offer complementary bread. In order to save money they don't automatically bring it out to you.   We found out by visiting two different restaurants.  When in doubt ask! Bottomless Fries is another favorite item.
  • Get creative! Because our kids are a little picky on what they eat we find that some places such as Chick-fli-a don't have foods that all my kids will like.   So we ask for a Grilled Cheese instead.  They have been very accommodating and a bun and cheese is usually less than ~$1.00 Each.  
  • Do the Math!  If a restaurant is offering a deal, actually check to see if it is saving you money.  It will not all the time.  Most offer higher priced meal options with lower priced menu options for there deals so if you get two lower priced options it might not save any money.
  • Dessert! Never buy dessert at a restaurant unless it is included with your meal.  Most the time you will live to regret it later and so will your purse.   Instead have something later at home or have a date night where you just go to a restaurant for dessert instead.     

For meals at home check out the Handy Meal Planning Guide and Meal Planning FREE printable!
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