Eating Out For Less

These ideas for eating out will serve to keep your wallet fatter and, in some cases, your waist thinner!

  • If you have kids, check your local restaurants for "free kids night".
  • Split meals — either with another person, such as your spouse or kid, or for your lunch the next day. If saving the other half for lunch the next day, ask for the to-go box upfront and diving up the portion before you start eating.
  • Ask your waitperson if you can have a half portion. Many places will do this for half the price of a full entree and maybe a little extra charge. Portions tend to be large these days, so a half is usually more than enough.
  • For singles or couples, try bar fare. You can often eat for less, although sometimes maybe not the healthiest food.
  • Look for a coupon in your local newspaper, mail, or online. Check out for online or printable restaurant (and some grocery) coupons.
  • If you're a member of the American Automobile Association, check for discounts that apply when presenting your AAA card.
  • Think about purchasing an Entertainment Book if they offer one in your area and include restaurants you will visit.
  • Sign up for email alerts from your favorite places to eat.
  • Look for discounted gift certificates on
  • Cash in on your birthday. Many places will give you a free meal to celebrate your birthday.
  • Go early to hit the lunch menu. Lunch menus typically include the same entrees as dinner, but with slightly smaller portions and reduced prices. Many restaurants serve lunch until 3pm. Call ahead to find out.
  • Order the special. Family-owned diners often have really good specials.
  • Order off of the kids menu, if they will allow you to do so.
  • If you're a senior, you can often find a section of the menu with lighter fare and discounts. Also, some places have senior days.
  • Order off of the appetizer menu.
  • Split an appetizer and a meal with someone. Appetizers are usually cheaper and you both get more variety!
  • Skip the drinks and have water instead, or share a drink with your partner.
  • If you have a special bottle of wine you'd like to have with your dinner, call ahead to see if the establishment allows you to bring your own bottle. (Some that do will charge a corkage fee.) Make sure the wine you're wanting to bring is not on their list and be gracious if they say "no".
  • Have dessert at home or at a less expensive restaurant. Or, have dinner at home and go out for dessert.
  • Don't leave without your to-go box!
  • Opt for take-out instead. You avoid the tip and drinks are cheaper at home!
  • Pay with cash. As with almost anything, when we pay with credit, we tend to spend more.
  • Set a monthly budget for eating out and stick to it.

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