10 Tips to Save Money Eating At Restaurants

1.  Skip the drinks!  Restaurants make the most money on drinks!  The average nonalcoholic drink is $2 to $3, multiplied by how many people in your party!  That can be an extra $4 to $20 depending on the amount of people.

2.  Watch the extras.  As a previous server, we were trained to always upsell.  Bacon and cheese on your potato – extra $2.99!  Mushrooms and Onions on that steak – extra $3.99!  If they offer something extra, be sure to always ask if there is an extra cost.  I hate it when you say yes, and then an extra cost is on the menu that they didn’t tell you about.

3.  Do you really need that 16 ounce steak?  Most of the time a 6 or 8 ounce is quite sufficient with salad and a side, and the price is WAY cheaper.

 4.  Dessert?  They are good every now and then.  If you do decide, consider splitting one.  It is usually more than enough.

5. Consider these options for discounts:

Restaurant.com

LivingSocial.com

Groupon.com


WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!  Do not buy deals just because they are deals!  If Tim and I want to go out to eat, I will search all of these to see if there is a great offer.  Usually we find half off.  However, don’t buy just because it sounds like a great deal if you were not going to eat in the first place.

6. Always put the “name of the restaurant printable coupon” in the search engine.  We never eat until we make sure there isn’t a coupon to print.  It isn’t fun when you go eat and then find there was a half price coupon that could have been used!

7. Check the back of grocery receipts.  Right now one of our favorite restaurants has a coupon on just about every receipt I get from the grocery store.

A WORD ABOUT COUPONS – Do the math.  A long running coupon at a restaurant that we like offers 20% off you bill if each person buys a drink.   Hmmm. We don’t usually buy drinks, so if we spend $2.50 on a drink we get to save $2.00 or so off our meal.  Sounds good, but not a deal when you do the math!

8.  Consider splitting a meal.  Many times we order a full meal such as a full rack of ribs and split it.  The meal, plus an extra side, is usually cheaper than two meals.

9.  Consider eating at lunch when meals are cheaper.  One of my favorite meals is $15.95 for dinner.  I get it at lunch when it is only $8.95, but almost just as big!

10.  Please TIP!  The going rate is 15 – 18%, but I usually tip 20% or more.  I have friends that throw a couple bucks out and think that is enough.  They fail to realize that most servers make $2.13 and hour, and then have to tip bussers, food runners, and a bartender.  If you have never served, it can be a stressful, challenging job and they earn every dollar you leave them!  They may not always be the best, but you do not know what awful mean customer they just had to deal with, or someone with a $150 tab who left them a couple bucks, or no tip at all!  Always tip well, you might just make their day.

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