{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason March 8, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Portion control is a way to help with the finances when the budget is tight. Most Americans over-eat anyway. Eating the best foods to lower cholesterol and regular exercise will also help you maintain your health.

Rowena October 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Sharing is great and also ordering appetizers as entrees is another great way to save.

Silicon Valley Blogger October 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I find that the portions served at restaurants in the United States are always pretty hefty. So yes, by ordering appetizers, you’ll find that they’re often the size of a regular meal that’s served in other countries. I like the idea of sticking to the appetizers — not only will you spend less, you’ll probably also keep your weight down. If you’re opting for the entree, then avoid also getting an appetizer, unless you’re going for family style dining.

krantcents October 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Good points. I would add restaurants that offer loyalty programs. I frequent a few of those restaurants and recived either money back or a free meal.

Silicon Valley Blogger October 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I just came across a few more websites that can help you to save at dining places, courtesy of the magazine “ShopSmart”, a sister publication of Consumer Reports. Here’s the quick list:

1. Savored.com — sounds like a great deal if you’re looking to eat at a fine dining establishment. You can sign up to be a free member and you’ll have access to discounts given out by over 600 restaurants. You don’t need coupons here to enjoy the savings. If you make a reservation through this site, you’ll pay $10 (to the site) but you’ll also receive a 30% discount at the restaurant of your choice. There are also helpful reviews here to help you select a great place to eat. The downside is that this service is not yet available in most areas (it’s only limited to 10 cities).

2. BiteHunter.com — this looks like a site that sources a bunch of other sites and puts together what’s good for a given day. You start off with your location (zip code) then peruse their lists of food specials, lunch specials, happy hour deals, etc. for your neighborhood. It may be suitable to use if you can act fast and are interested in daily specials and deals. They pick up info from Restaurant.com, Valpak, Yelp, Groupon, Citysearch, and more, which are well known for such offers. So this may be some type of aggregating service. BiteHunter.com makes it easy for you to do searches according to venue, deal and cuisine.

3. EatDrinkDeals.com — finally, here’s a service that organizes and shares deals, coupons and specials that are offered by chain restaurants such as Arbys, Burger King, Macaroni Grill (a favorite of mine!) and Olive Garden. You’ll find a whole lot more at their site.

Happy dining!

Doctor Stock October 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Some great tips… not only skip the booze (which are overpriced), but skip the soda too… a little water and lemon can make a big difference…

Darcy October 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm

My wife and I have dramatically cut back on dining out. More due to changes in Diet, than Budget, but the effect has been positive on both for both. We don’t cheap out when we dine out but select a higher quality restaurant. I’d rather skip the pizza and McDonald’s 3 times a week and go twice a month for an actual dining experience. We’ve also cut back on the booze and I have to say the difference in the final bill when you get drinks and when you don’t is eye opening. So I’d have to say that’s the best tip in this list.

Yazmin October 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

I agree with Darcy and krantcents. I prefer to skip the fast food and hit a good restaurant once in a while. I’d suggest you sign up for a restaurant email list to receive freebies on your birthday and discounts. Another way to save money on dining out is to wait till restaurant week to take advantage of the savings and top notch food. It happens on different dates depending on the city so you should check around!

Myke October 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

Skip the beverages and enjoy water with lemon. What you save on the drinks will more than pay for an enjoyable dessert or save you about $3 + tax and tip for each soft drink.

Don’t forget to ask about discounts i.e. AAA or AARP.

Take advantage of early bird or happy hour specials.

Professor59 October 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

These are pretty good. I might have a tiny argument with “use takeout and you don’t have to tip”. I may not tip 15% on takeout, if at all, but I find that if you use the same places often enough, a “keep the change” here or a dollar there helps a lot. People who work the specialized take-out sections especially seem to feel entitled to a little something.

I’d add:
– Dine locally to save travel expenses. A fine restaurant around the corner can end up being cheaper than a decent restaurant downtown.
– Many menus have a “senior portions” or otherwise-named page of smaller portions for less.

Optimum7 October 31, 2011 at 6:51 am

I agree with Myke. Skip the drinks, order tap water instead and I’d even say skip dessert, they are usually really overpriced.

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