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Eating Out Without Going Broke

As you all know, Brian and I eat out A LOT. It’s safe to say that we’ve mastered the art of eating out without going broke. Listed here are some of the things that we do so minimize the cost of eating out.

Skip the soda
More and more we’re finding that most places charge around $2.00 to $2.50 for soda. That’s $5.00 that you can spend on an appetizer or dessert. Plus, as my coworker Darcy always says, soda is a waste of calories anyway. You don’t get anything out of it. So, next time, opt for water instead. If you really, really, have to have soda then just order one and share it.

Similarly, skip the cocktails
Most restaurant cocktails are overpriced. If you want to get drunk, go to a liquor store. Don’t plan on getting drunk by drinking 10 pomegranate martinis at Bone Fish. That will add at least $75 to your bill.

Split your entree
Brian and I try to agree on an entree and split it whenever possible. For example, we’ll get the chicken gratella at Carrabba’s and just split that. You get two sides with it and we normally just get two orders of capellini pomodoro. Neither of us like to eat veggies, anyway, so it would be wasteful to order it. This way, we both get to enjoy chicken and pasta. Another thing that Carrabba’s does is split the salad. A full order of Ceasar’s salad is usually too big for one of us so splitting it is perfect. The best part is that there is no sharing charge at Carrabba’s, while other restaurants usually assess a small sharing fee (like Sumo for example).

Get a half order
When splitting an entree isn’t possible, find out if you can ask for a half order. Many places allow you to do this. Not only is this better for your pocket, but also better for your health. Most restaurants give you way too much food, anyway. Ordering a half portion will help you prevent over-eating. Some places won’t explicitly advertise half portions or list it on the menu so be sure to ask. At Il Vicino, for instance, you can order a half portion of just about anything on the menu.

Take leftovers home
Granted, some dishes are not that great after being reheated in the microwave. Keeping this in mind, if you are unable to order a half portion of something and are unable to finish your full meal, take the rest home specially if the dish is something that you wouldn’t mind eating again. I’ve done this myself and made a $7.00 meal last for two days. Not too shabby if you’re on a tight budget.

Take advantage of specials
Most restaurants have specific schedules. Be aware of days when specific dishes are on special. Take advantage of this information and enjoy the meal at a discounted price than you’d normally pay otherwise. This works for cocktails also. Saturday is my favorite day to dine at Granite City because they have outdoor concerts on special for $3.00 so I can have five additional refills for under $20.00 — not that I’d actually do that. I’ll usually have two glasses at most.

Join restaurant birthday clubs
Joining restaurant birthday clubs might contribute to your already overflowing email inbox, but it’s worth it. Most restaurants will invite you for a free meal on your birthday. Sign everyone up in your family! Seriously, though, joining restaurant email lists sometimes provide the immediate benefit of a coupon right when you join. I did this with McAlister’s Deli and they emailed me a coupon good for $5.00 off my next visit. I’m on the Abuelo’s (on your birthday, they will give you a free meal and free dessert to boot), Red Lobster, and Cold Stone Creamery (free ice cream, oh yeah) lists and a few others. Take advantage of free birthday perks whenever you can.

Use coupons
Don’t throw away coupons you get in the mail. Use them. There are also several places to get coupons like the back of your local phone book. That’s pretty much all Brian and I use the phone books for anymore is just for coupons since you can get information online. Speaking of online, you can get lots of restaurant coupons online now too. Here are some of our favorites:

There are a few others, but they require membership or subscriptions. Anyway, as I come across others I will share them here. If you are aware of ideas or coupons that aren’t already listed, please feel free to add them in the comments.

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2 Responses to “Eating Out Without Going Broke”

  1. December 22nd, 2011 at 10:09 am

    trx says:

    it’s so useful for me.thanks for your points- nike tn.

  2. December 22nd, 2011 at 10:21 am

    trx training says:

    Great comments,i like your articles,i am alway look your articles.

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