Save Money Eating Out

Saving money while eating out at restaurants. Here are tips suggested by the ThriftyFun community. Post your own ideas here.

Skip the Beverages When Eating at a Restaurant

Cooking at home saves money, but when you do eat out, order water instead of a beverage to help keep your check low.

By Cynthia

Read The Coupon Fine Print


Be careful with too good to be true deals! While I am positive that there are some great deals out there, avoid the minimum purchase required ones! Think about it. You must order at least $35 worth of food/drink, in order to get your $25 coupon (that you got for just $10). A savings of $10 right? WRONG, if it cost you $10 to get the certificate, you didn't save a single dime! Like I said, I am sure that there are many great deals to be had, just be sure to do your homework and make sure it is a deal. Enjoy.

By Morgan Kneib

Order Appetizers Or Lunch Portions Instead

I have started ordering appetizers for the main course. Or asking for a lunch portion. Lately portions have just gotten too big and I end up paying for food I don't really want.

By Valerie

Eat Early To Use The Lunch Menu

Instead of eating dinner out, we eat a late lunch. The dinner menu is always more expensive, even if it is the same menu as the lunch menu.


By Harlean

Plan On Leftovers

Make a point of just eating half of what is on the plate and take the rest home as leftovers for another meal. It's nice to do the split off before you eat off the plate! Something else I'd like to point out is that one should order foods which aren't normally prepared at home.

And finally, make a mental note of outstanding combos on the menu and then serve them at home. I get take out menus (when available) and store them in a folder. When I run out of meal ideas, I occasionally look to these for inspiration.

By Holly

Split Your Entree

My husband and I often split an entree and/or dessert. Most restaurants serve so much food and are happy to give customers an extra plate. We are always careful to tip as if we had spent for two.


FYI: I read somewhere that it is better to leave your tip on the table rather than include it in check or credit card, because sometimes it doesn't ever reach the server.

By Ruth Counter

Lemon Water

At restaurants, instead of ordering soft drinks request to have water with lemon for refreshment.

By Alyson


Hi everyone, My DH and I also order water often instead of a beverage, but for a nice change from plain water all the time is lemonade: I usually ask for lemon with my water, and there's almost always sugar packets on the table, so I stir in my lemon and sugar and have homemade, natural lemonade at no charge! it's a nice change of pace than just water or lemon water. Thanks for all the tips!

By Mia

Kansas City Kids Eat Free Website

If you live in the Kansas City Area, you're in luck. has a really good listing of Kids Eat Free and Kids Eat Cheap restaurants in the Kansas City Metro Area. Even if I did create this list myself. Enjoy!


By Michael Carter

Buy an Entertainment book!

Buy an Entertainment book! We bought the smaller version for $20 through a school fundraiser and have saved $143.16 in just 4 months. (That does not even include all the golf coupons I gave away...) The coupons are usually buy one meal get one free, so it is great when there are just two.

Another idea is to get to know the sale days at your favorite restaurants. My kids love McDonalds but we only go on those nights when they have $.99 burgers for the big people. There is a lounge in town that serves a steak dinner for $4.99 on Thursdays. Ask around. Check the paper for coupons. I often find them in the weekend edition.

And my last tip, try to have an emergency dinner in the freezer for those horrible nights when you are too tired to cook. (Seems like every night for me.) Hope this helps.


Christine - Spokane, WA

The best way to save money ...

The best way to save money on eating out is not to do it. When there were only two of us I would keep ZipLock sandwich bags filled with spaghetti sauce, chili, shredded beef/BBQ sauce, grated cheese, soup, diced cooked ham or turkey, crumbled cooked bacon, sweet/sour sauce, refried beans, taco meat, etc. I would also keep a bag of meatballs that had been frozen individually. It was easy to thaw something out in the microwave and have soft tacos, chili burritos, soup and salad, meatball subs, and so much more. Bags of salad are inexpensive and handy.

Now that there are 7 in our family I keep large ZipLock bags of those same types of things in the freezer for busy days, they are a life and budget saver. Many families will find that the money saved on food, clothes, eating out and auto/travel expenses if a spouse does not work or works only part time will be greater than the income earned.


Wiser shopping, home cooking, selling the second car? can save a lot. It also makes for a calmer home environment and allows the primary income earner to concentrate more on their work and not worry about dry cleaning, running to DMV, etc.


A family eating out.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 169 Posts
November 16, 20070 found this helpful

The ziploc bags post reminded me of something that happened to me at least 40 years ago. My DH has this cousin who is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. She and I get together and giggle like teen agers. She and her hubby and his mom came to visit us and she and I were in my kitchen making hamburgers. We just kept making those patties and talking and giggling. We stuck them in the oven to stay warm while we did the other items. Her MIL said "Gladys, you might want to count those hamburgers." We did and there were 47 of of them for 5 adults and 3 small kids! We ate what we wanted and I put the rest in the freezer. I took them out a few at a time and used my box grater to grat them for meat sauces.

By Miriam Null (Guest Post)
November 17, 20070 found this helpful

I see that my trick of ordering hors d'oeuvres for dinner is shared. I do not eat all that much and these are usually more than enough. I also take home half my meal for another day. Never desserts, unless they come with the meal.

By Mary (Guest Post)
November 18, 20070 found this helpful

Eating out is a fun activity and a treat. It makes more sense to view it as entertainment vs. a food expense. Everybody deserves a little treat now & then and if you enjoy eating out, don't deny yourself! Save up for a nice evening out now & then but avoid fast food. It's not healthy & a complete waste of money! Another way to save is to never order dessert. The prices for dessert in most restaurants are way over the top, and it's a way for them to make more money on the table. You'll save money & calories if you just skip it!

By rae (Guest Post)
November 18, 20070 found this helpful

Just a word of caution, check whether the restaurant allows you to take left overs home. Here in Australia many restaurants and cafe will not let you take left over food home as it is health hazard. The restaurants are worried that if the food spoils and you get sick you can sue them. Many places here in Perth have this written on the menu and many coffee shops also have it written near their tills.

By Colleen (Guest Post)
November 19, 20070 found this helpful

How can I convince my DH that eating out can still be a fun treat without breaking the bank? His opinion is that if we can afford to eat out, he should get to order whatever he wants, which is usually an expensive dinner (which he refuses to share so that he can keep his left overs for lunch the next day) plus a couple of beers. We don't eat out during the week but I really love to go out on Friday nights. Unfortunately, it exceeds our budget unless we share a large dinner or get two reasonably priced ones and only drink soft drinks. What do I say/do to help him realize that we can go out on a budget and still have a nice time?

February 6, 20080 found this helpful

While I love to cook, I do get tired of doing it!! Once in awhile I like to go out and have someone wait on me. We have started eating breakfast out at one of our local places rather than a chain restaurant as they tend to be much cheaper. We have also been taking advantage of *Happy Hour* when we do want to have dinner out. A chain pizza restaurant offers 1/2 off appetizer and beer for a buck a glass. My hubby and I will have 3 appetizers and 2 beers a piece and usually only spend $20 which includes the tip. Certainly beats spending $60 bucks at that Australian steakhouse chain!

By Mrfroogle (Guest Post)
July 17, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with most things you said. I have other tips that many people never consider. Check them out here:

By Chick187 (Guest Post)
January 8, 20090 found this helpful

We don't eat out much but when we do we get pizza. I never leave home without a coupon.

Here's a link to some online printable coupons.


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