Frugal Friday: Eating Out

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This week I want us to focus on saving money while eating out. Yes, I know that part of being frugal is limiting the number of times we eat out. However, there are still ways that we can save money during those times we choose to eat out.

Here are a few ideas I have for saving while eating out:

  1. Choose water for your beverage. Now, I’m not good at doing this, but it really is a great way to save some money. With most soft drinks or tea priced at $2 or more, a family of 4 could save at least $8 on their bill.
  2. Consider ordering an appetizer for your main meal.
  3. Check your local paper for coupons to your favorite restaurants.
  4. Split an entree with someone in your party.
  5. Take advantage of early bird specials.
  6. Ask if the restaurant serves a smaller portion for a reduced price. I know Olive Garden does this at dinner and on Sundays. Just say you want a lunch portion, and they will bring you a smaller sized entree for the lunch price.
  7. When your entree arrives, ask your server to box up half for you to take home. Most entrees are too much for one person to eat at one time. Taking home leftovers will give you food for another meal.

“What if I have to eat out at lunch everyday?” you may ask. Well, if it’s possible, try to bring your lunch from home a few days a week. Also, consider bringing your own snacks from home. When I worked full time, I quickly realized that paying $.75 a day for a soda from the machine quickly added up. I bought a case of sodas at the grocery store on sale when the average cost per can was less than a quarter.

The same goes for vending machine snacks. Who really needs all those empty calories? Bring your own pre-cut fruits and vegetables from home or buy larger bags of chips and divide them up into individual bags.

With a little planning and self-control, you can enjoy a nice meal out from time to time without breaking the bank.

Question: What is your favorite way to save money while eating out?

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