How to Save Money When Eating Out

If there’s one thing I’ve mastered thanks to have three children is How to Save Money when Eating Out. With a family of five, eating out can be a very costly experience.

Knowing these tips and tricks, you’re sure to save money each time, adding up to much savings through each year. 

How to save money when eating out
  1. Stop ordering expensive drinks.

One of the top reasons your bill gets so high when eating out has to do with the drinks that you order. Alcoholic beverages, flavored lemonades, even pop – all add up quickly, even for the ones that give refills around the table. Stick to water to save some big money when out with the family, and ask for lemon or lime wedges for a bit of flavour. The added sugar and calories of the other drinks aren’t necessary anyway so there’s really two benefits in one!

  1. Split meals. No, it’s not rude or against the law.

It’s not against the law to save yourself some money and actually finish your food rather than taking half of it home. Plus, this is especially important when you have kids in tow. Even now that the twins are older, they sometimes won’t finish even kids meals at a restaurant. Oftentimes it’s more frugal to order one adult meal and split for the two of them. Keeping this in mind and sharing meals can cut your cost in half, and eliminates the leftovers that might not be eaten. 

  1. Go out for lunch instead of dinner.

In many restaurants the menu is different for lunch and dinner, and lunch is usually cheaper. Instead of going out to dinner after work, try going out to lunch on the weekend if with the while family. Listen to those lunch specials as they can save you a lot on your bill. If you’d like to have those drink we previously discussed, happy hours are typically in the early afternoon hours, which will also be cheaper versus those in the evening.

  1. Eliminate the appetizers and dessert.

You want to save money while dinning out? Stop ordering those appetizers and desserts! They can cost you the same price as your main meal oftentimes, and are they really worth it? If you get an appetizer it tends to fill you up before your food even comes and let’s face it, they are typically deep-fried and rarely healthy foods. Desserts are un-needed calories and are often premade and defrosted cheesecakes rather than freshly made items. You can make a quick stop on the way home for an ice-cream cone or bulk package of treats for cheaper than a restaurant dessert, and it will be far healthier than the fudge covered brownie option.

  1. Plan to go out on discount days, kids eat free days, or special event dates.

Find out what restaurants have discount days, where kids can eat for free in restaurants, and if there are any special events coming up. Many places will offer a buy one get one day, half off appetizers specials, happy hours and discounts for those who are frequent customers. These are all things that can save you money and are worth looking into. Make it a rule to only go where the savings are or where you have a wicked coupon for. I know many have purchased the SUTP coupon book recently, so take advantage! 

Have more tips on How to Save Money When Eating Out?


  1. Great tips!

    Looking for coupons is also an idea – quite often you can save or get something free

  2. Check for coupons. I find #1 the best, it doesn’t take many to rack up that bill!

  3. These are great tips! We have been doing most of them when we eat out. Except for skipping the expensive-high-calorie drinks. I’ll work on that. 😉

  4. This is a awesome reminder! I hate the price of drinks in restaurants. How can it cost almost half of my meal? Besides we all should drink more water 🙂

  5. Great tips for saving money on food when traveling. Some others:

    – visit the grocery store. If your lodging has fridge and microwave, you can at least have breakfast in your room. You can also make sandwiches for a picnic. Buy plenty of produce.

    – visit farmer markets. Fresh produce. Samples help curb big appetites and prevent you from eating too much later.

    – take out. A large pizza, rotisserie chicken, and deli veggie sides might cost less than $25 and feed the whole family.

    – grocery store prepared foods. In Key West, a grocery store one block from Duval Street sold amazing Cuban food one day ($3 for 3 orders of plantains!), Southern food another day. Prepared meals for a fraction of the price of nearby restaurants.

    – Happy Hours. I used to take my kids to a local place at 4pm every once in awhile for a $5 burger (which they would split). At 4pm, the happy hour crowd had not yet arrived. The kids would play board games, sit in the high stool chairs (big people chairs), and eat cheap (daddy likes).

    Travel Happy!

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