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How To: Saving Money Eating Out

Posted by : Premraj | Posted on : Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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By Heaven Stubblefield

It seems these days everyone and everything is go, go, go.  Kitchens have become another room that holds your things without ever being used.  The restaurant business has skyrocketed simply because people are spending less time in their kitchens and more time in the hands of other people to cook for them.  If you are a frequent diner, or simply want to save money on your once in a while excursions, here are some tips to help you save money.

1. It’s all about H2O. The average nonalcoholic refillable beverage will cost you between 2 and 4 dollars.  If you are imbibing from the bar, double it.  Most drinks, whose prices are not published, run between 4 and 10 dollars.  And those are not bottomless drinks.  When you go to a restaurant, order water.  Your server might think you are a cheap table, but you can always say you are watching your weight or “parched.”

2. Save up birthday presents. When my family asks me what I would like for my birthday and Christmas I always share that I want gift cards to my favorite restaurants.  Then, instead of using them as I get them, I hold onto them for special occasions.  When I was in college, I received a gift certificate to the nicest restaurant in town.  Instead of using it the next weekend, I saved it for an anniversary dinner with my boyfriend (now husband). The same thing goes now, six months later; I still have gift cards from Christmas that I will use for my husband’s birthday or a girl’s night out.

3. Promotion, Promotion, Promotion: I am a big fan of restaurant week in my hometown.  During this time, high end restaurants will serve you for a flat rate.  It helps them promote their wonderful restaurant and helps the average diner eat from a more pristine table cloth for an evening.  What would normally cost at least $100 for a meal for a table of two will typically cost $20 during restaurant week.

4. Don’t do the cooking, but do carry it out: Carry out has become the new phenomenon of many restaurants, and not simply chains.  I frequent a local Chinese restaurant, which we’ll call “George.”  When we dine in, we order drinks, and leave at least a 20% tip.  By carrying out, we drink what we have at home, or bring a bottle of water with us, and eliminate the tip.  We still get an excellent meal at “George” and it comes with a great savings.

5. Share. With the exception of when I was pregnant, I have never walked out of a restaurant without a doggie bag.  My husband and I often order the same thing when we eat out.  In addition, we rarely order from the kids menu for our daughter, who is less than 2 years old.  If you are dining in, you may incur a slight charge for sharing;  however, most restaurants, who appreciate that you came in at all and will not have a problem dishing one portion onto two plates.  If you both order a salad or side, it might make your server a little happier to serve.

I hope these tips will help you enjoy eating out without worrying about the bill.  Happy dining!

What are some tips you use to enjoy eating out without spending a lot of money?

Comments : 23 Comments | Category : Money Advice, Saving Tips | Tags : ,

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