6 tips for saving money in restaurants

Smiling man in a restaurant holding a credit card.

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It is possible to dine out strategically and save money.

the main points

  • Inflation has hit restaurant prices hard (just like everything else).
  • Consider skipping the booze and ordering an appetizer as a meal.
  • If you choose the right dining out credit card, you can earn cash back or points on your restaurant spend.

Eating out is one of the daily luxuries that almost anyone can afford, at least once in a while. It’s so nice to walk into a restaurant, sit down, order what you want, and have it served to you – no cooking or dishwashing required afterwards. However, it is very easy to inflate your budget If you go out to eat.

The most recent CPI report showed that the cost of “food away from home” (as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines spending on food items other than groceries) rose 8.5% from November 2021 to November 2022. Thanks to inflation .

I’m a fan of small, non-chain restaurants in my hometown, and I’ve definitely felt the pinch of paying more for my meals lately. I’m glad I’m still buying restaurant meals, because I want this business to continue – it’s been a tough year for restaurants, too. To that end, I’ve been collecting a few ways to save money on eating out. Read on for some ideas to try the next time you’re out.

1. Skip the alcohol

Ordering alcohol at a restaurant has a significant and immediate impact on your final bill. The alcohol markup in restaurants is often around 200%, according to How Stuff Works. In addition, a restaurant that serves alcohol requires an additional (and sometimes expensive) license, especially if it serves hard liquor and not just beer and wine. For this reason, it’s a good idea to skip the booze if you’re hoping not to get too high Credit card Tab your night out.

2. Consider the appetizers

I am often more interested in the appetizer section of the menu than the meals. If that’s you, too, why don’t you recline? You can save some money by choosing an appetizer instead of a full meal, and if it doesn’t feel “full” enough, have a side salad with it. You can also specify for your waiting person that you want them to be brought over with the meals (I never felt sad about this).

3. Look for coupons or deals

It’s a great move to use coupons or other direct methods to spend less. You can find restaurant coupons through many websites, apps, and even in your mailbox at home. It’s worth considering the package of coupons you might get from time to time to see if there are any restaurants you frequent. Also check to see if your favorite places have deals like happy hour prices, free kids’ meals on certain nights, and discounts for military members or seniors. Finally, your credit card may have cash back deals with certain restaurants. for you Card mobile application Great place to find them.

4. Don’t ask for something to cook at home

This is my mom’s trick, and I use it too. Eating out should be special, and as such, I try to order food that I don’t make at home. For one thing, I know how to cook a steak to the perfect medium rare, and I still have to make dinner at a restaurant that can manage it. On the other hand, if I ordered this steak, I would feel bad because I paid three times as much as I would have had to cook it myself. If you really want to feel as if you’re getting your money’s worth for a meal, order something you enjoy but it’s a rare treat. Note: This doesn’t give you permission to charge $40 for a lobster if it’s not in your budget!

Every time I’m going to try a new restaurant, I look up their menu on the internet. This prepares me in several ways. I make sure the restaurant really appeals to me (have you been to a restaurant where nothing on the menu looks good?). I also determine the price range. This is an especially useful trick if you’re on vacation and aren’t sure which restaurants are more expensive. If you know you have $30 to spend on lunch and based on menu prices the bistro will sell you $50 lunch, you know to find a different place.

6. Use the right credit card

while using a file Restaurant credit card It won’t directly save you money, you’ll have the opportunity to earn some cash or points back on your restaurant spending, and that’s definitely a good thing.

One of the most popular ways to save money that you’ll find mentioned everywhere is to “stop eating out!” Although restaurant meals can be pricey, I would argue that if something adds joy to your life, the best thing you can do is find ways to save money on it. If you can change the way you eat at restaurants and end up keeping more money in your account Bank accountthat’s a win.

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