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8 Money-Saving Tips for Your Next Restaurant Visit

Cooking all your meals at home can save you a lot of money in the long run and improve your household budget. However, cooking every day can also lose its appeal quickly. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot to eat out, even if Americans spend more than $825 billion dollars per year on restaurants. [1] All you have to do is apply our money-saving tips whenever you visit a restaurant.

1. Ask for Water

Thirsty? A glass of water may not be as fun as ordering a margarita, but it’s certainly healthier and infinitely cheaper. Beverages like cocktails, wine, beer, and soft drinks add at least $5, if not more, to your tab at a time, but get a little carried away and those drinks you ordered can easily end up adding more than $50 to your bill. Glasses of water, on the other hand, are almost always free.

2. Find Discounts

You don’t need to cut coupons out of magazines and newspapers to find discounts; just a simple search online and you will see that most restaurants, especially chains, have various specials every week. These deals can be as simple as shaving a few bucks off an entree or getting a percentage discount off of an entire meal. Start looking for deals on official Facebook pages or just search online by combining a restaurant’s name and something like “promo code” or “coupon”.

3. Bring Your Kids!

Worried that more mouths to feed will mean a higher bill? Not always! A lot of chains and local restaurants will let your kids eat for free or for discount prices on certain nights, so take advantage of this if you’re a parent. Also look for a kiddie menu – prices there tend to be lower too.

4. Get an Appetizer Instead of an Entree

You may think you need a full entree, but in most restaurants you will find that an entree will be the same size as an appetizer but will cost double. To save money, order an appetizer and add a salad or another side to make this look more like a full meal.

5. Share a Meal With Someone

Americans have been supersizing their portions way before the popular food documentary Super Size Me came out in 2004. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, [2] food portions have double or even tripled in the last 20 years which is among the leading causes of the obesity epidemic. So, if you want to stay healthy and save money eating out, split your meal with someone.

6. Bring Leftovers Home

Piggybacking off our previous tip, we suggest that you take leftovers home if you aren’t sharing your meal or if you cannot finish it in the restaurant itself. You can then heat that up for your lunch the following day.

7. Take Your Meals to Go

Having a seat in a cozy place is part of what makes eating out so enjoyable. However, instead of sitting at a table, you might get more bang for your buck just because they want to fill the takeaway box so it doesn’t look empty.

8. Look for Happy Hours

Lastly, search online for happy hours, deals and discounts. Also, ask the servers if there are any deals for specific parts of the week or day. Your friends might also give you a few tips, so make sure to ask them.

[1]https://www.restaurant.org/research/restaurant-statistics/restaurant-industry-facts-at-a-glance

[2]https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/news-events/matte1.htm

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