My husband and I love to dine out. Even when we were really broke and were on a very tight budget, we still managed to dine out about once or twice a month. We see it as a social part of our lives, and as major foodies, we really love to try local restaurants.
Unfortunately, dining out can be quite expensive, and it’s usually one of the first things to go when you’re trying to tighten up your budget. Luckily, we’ve founds way to save while dining out on a budget that still let us enjoy one of our favorite outings without feeling like we’re breaking the bank.
Here are 5 of my best tips in case dining out is just as important to you!
1. Always Use a Coupon
We can almost always find some sort of discount online by researching beforehand. We either save coupons that come in the mail, check out a restaurant’s website, Yelp, Groupon, Living Social, or even call ahead to see if they have any specials going on.
At one restaurant we visited, we got 10% just for sharing a photo of our meal on social media!
Signing up for your favorite restaurant’s newsletter can also be valuable as they’ll send out exclusive coupons.
2. Book Ahead
We like to make reservations by using a site like OpenTable, which gives you points for every reservation you make. Once you reach a certain number of points, you actually get a dining check to use at any participating restaurant. It’s a great way to save money on dining out without costing you a cent.
3. Take Advantage of Specials
Lots of restaurants will offer happy hour, and many cities now offer Restaurant Week, which includes three-course meals for a fraction of the normal price. These specials are a great way to try out a new restaurant’s sampling without committing to the entire cost.
4. Skip the Alcohol
I’ve realized that while I really love wine, I mostly prefer to have wine before dinner. When dining out with friends, my husband and I will almost always have friends come over to our house for a pre-dinner drink beforehand.
This little trick helps save us lots of money on our dining bill as we’re skipping the expensive alcohol in favor of free water.
5. Split the Meal
Restaurant portions these days are huge and largely out of control. Suggest splitting a meal with your dining partner, or if you prefer, simply eat half and take home the rest to eat for lunch the next day. You can easily turn one dining meal into two meals, which helps alleviate the burden on your budget.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to forgo all social activities and live like a hermit. My husband and I still enjoy dining out and visiting with friends, but don’t appreciate the huge bills that come with it.
By using these five ways to save while dining out, we’re able to accommodate our wants while still living a frugal lifestyle.
Are you a foodie who can’t give up their restaurant budget? How do you save on dining out?