10 Ways to Cut Your Restaurant Bill Big Time
January 11, 2013
A common piece of money saving advice is to cut back on eating out. My wife and I eat much more in than out but like to hit the restaurants on Friday or Saturday nights. Below are some ways that we keep our food bill to a reasonable size.
1. Split the bill.
We have a few favorite restaurants where we know they serve huge portions. Sharing a meal still fills us up and is easier on the wallet.
2. Fill up on freebies.
I love restaurants that bring out free stuff before you get your food. If you load up on free chips and salsa or breadsticks and salad you can easily split a meal and cut your bill in half.
3. Avoid appetizers.
As mentioned above, there are many restaurants that offer free food prior to your meal. Since appetizers can cost half or two thirds the cost of your main dish, I always go for the free food instead of paying for an appetizer.
4. Keep it simple.
Often the simplest things on the menu are the cheapest. Look for your basic burrito, spaghetti marinara, club sandwich, or other simple standby and you’ll likely score the best deal.
5. Skip the booze.
Alcohol has a huge markup, what else do I have to say? If you really need a drink, stay away from the fancy $9 fru-fru drink. Instead, stick with the basic bottled beer, drafts usually cost more.
6. Use Groupon or LivingSocial
Make sure you read the fine print on the deal so you know that your Groupon is valid for the meal you’re ordering. There are also local versions of these sites that sometimes have better deals on restaurants. Also remember to tip your server on the price of the meal before the Groupon is applied.
7. Take leftovers.
I’m amazed at the number of people that throw away their leftover food. Taking home your leftovers won’t save you money on the meal you’re eating but it might on the one you don’t have to buy tomorrow night.
8. Order the deal of the day.
Many restaurants offer specials on the weeknights to help bring people in during their slower times. Since we typically only eat out on the weekends we don’t take advantage of this technique but my in-laws eat out a lot and save money by always knowing which establishment in town is offering the deal of the day.
9. Use your gift cards.
If you’re like us you’ll always have several restaurant gift cards floating around the house from work or family gift exchanges. Our problem is that we often forget to use them. To help take advantage of the savings, keep them in your purse or wallet for easy access.
We’ll choose a restaurant because we have a gift card but by the end of the meal we’ve forgotten and don’t use it when the server brings the bill. The tip here is to put your gift card on the table when you arrive so you remember to use it.
10. Eat on your birthday!
Take advantage of the restaurants that offer a free meal on your birthday! See “Free Stuff For Your Birthday” on the Personal Finance Advice site.
Do you have more ways to cut the restaurant bill? Leave a comment!
All posts by Ben Edwards