Monday, June 8, 2009

Money Saving Mondays! Saving Money When Dining Out!


Continuing series of Money Saving Mondays! I love to save money, post deals, and just in general make my dollar stretch a little further so keep up with me on Mondays for some easy ways to save money! How do you save money when dining out?

In order to teach our kids proper etiquette when dining at restaurants when we are on travel, etc., we typically eat out once every other week to once a week. Granted, we pick louder restaurants, but the fact is, if you don’t take them out while you are at home then they won’t be well prepared when you are on travel! This adds up quickly though, regardless of where you choose to eat, so I have thrown together some ideas for how to save money when dining out! Please let me know your ideas too – we could all save a few extra cents or dollars here and there!

1) When eating out, just order water to drink! It may not be as desirable as soda, tea, or alcoholic beverage, but it’s free (you can have the soda, tea, or alcoholic beverage when you get home for less than half the cost)! Hate the taste of water, or your kids are complaining? Take along those single serve flavoring packets, like Crystal Lite or Koolaid. You might look a little funny adding to the water, but remember, most restaurants lemonade is the “Lite” version, and I prefer sugar to strange sweeteners for my little guys!

2) Sign up for all the birthday clubs, for a great list, visit STL Mommy! She is great about keeping the list updated! Granted, you will get way too many coupons the week of your birthday to enjoy all those free meals, but many also send you some type of money saving coupon when you sign up! There are also many that have a separate kid’s club, so sign up for both!

3) Go out to eat for lunch or breakfast-At most places the same size entree is cheaper during lunch! A growing number of dining places even have lunch specials that save you money in an attempt to attract more lunch-time diners. Even all-you-can-eat restaurants have lower fixed prices before 4:00 P.M., sometimes even half the price! An added bonus is you'll be beating the dinner crowd and rush hour.

4) Make the appetizer the entree- With super sized portions becoming the norm, an appetizer will easily get you full for less than the price of an entree. Excellent for sampling everything on the menu if you order a variety sampler.

5) Voice your Opinion-At many chain restaurants, the back of the receipt has a 1-800 number or website where they want customers to detail their dining experience. In exchange for your time you usually receive some offer or rebate good toward your next purchase.

6) Skip dessert-Plain and simple... its overpriced. If you really need your sweet fix, pick up a tub of ice cream at the grocery store (enough to feed the entire family dessert) for the same price as one dessert at the restaurant. If you love dessert, then opt for an appetizer and dessert instead of an entree!

7) Think ethnic!-Many locally owned Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Middle-Eastern and Asian have delicious authentic dishes that hit the spot for a fraction of the price you'd find a similar entree at a chain restaurant.

8) Eat on "Kids Eat Free" night-The general rule is one free kids meal (Sometimes two) per adult entree purchase.Use My Kids Eat Free to find places in your area that offer this special on different days of the week. Most "Kids Eat Free" nights fall on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, so you will be eating out when there is less of a crowd!

9) Instead of ordering two kids meals (if you have two kids) order an adult entree and split it between the kids, you can always ask for another plate! If you make this the norm, the kids won’t expect any different. If you know the restaurant had outrageous portions, then you could likely order two adult entrees and split them as a family.

10) ??How do you save when dining out?? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

Want to join in on Money Saving Mondays? Copy my button, post it on your blog, and leave me a comment with a link to your post (I will figure out the Mr. Linky thing soon)!

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I'm a wife and working mom of two beautiful young boys! I am lucky enough to have my mom watch the boys while I work so I can be a mom and have a career!

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