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How to Save Money when Dining Out

Are you looking for ways to save money when dining out? You've come to the right place.  It comes down to where to go, when to go, how to get there and what to order. Read on to find money-saving tips on how to save money when dining out. 

Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash

How to Save Money when Dining Out

Go during Happy hour

Happy Hour is one of our favorite times of the day, That's because many restaurants offer discounted food and drink specials. While in the past, Happy Hour used to run from 5-7 p.m. in most restaurants, that's not really the case anymore. Be sure to check with the restaurants to see what times Happy Hour is being offered and also what days of the week.

Split a Meal or Order an Appetizer

Let's talk about portion size and how at some places the portions are quite generous. Why not eat half of the meal and bring the rest home? You can also check out the appetizer menu, as some of the dishes found there can easily fill you up.

Know Weekly Specials

Check out the restaurant's website before you go and you'll probably find weekly specials that are offered. From Taco Tuesdays to oyster nights to wine nights and more, if you go on the right night you're sure to save quite a bit.

Sign up for the Restaurant's Mailing List (or their app)

Looking to save money at your favorite restaurant? Then, sign up for their mailing list or downloading their app. While every restaurant differs, many will send you a coupon for signing up or another sort of freebie (ie. it's hard to turn down a free lunch). Plus, you'll stay updated on that restaurant's promotions and happenings. 

Note: Sign up more than 24 hours before you plan to go, as some restaurants will wait a certain amount of time before processing your sign-up. 

Dine Out on your Birthday

How would you like to enjoy a free meal on your birthday — or at least enjoy a free dessert? Then, you can do one of two things. One, you can sign up for the restaurant's mailing list – many will have you add your birthday to it and will send you an email the month of your birthday. Two, you can be in the know by doing your research. You can start by checking out our free birthday treats. 

Go out for Lunch instead of Dinner

When your schedule is flexible, your dining out can be too. Instead of waiting for the dinner hour to roll around, why not dine out earlier in the day. Lunch menus often offer similar options to what you'll find on the dinner menu — and they also are available at a lower price point. 

Pay with Cash

Have you noticed how many restaurants have been adding on fees wherever they want (and they're sneaky about them too? Do you want fries with your burger? That will be an additional charge. What about extra sauce? That will be additional, too.) Well, there's one charge that you can control — and that is the extra percentage charge that's added to your bill when you use a credit card. Avoid that charge by planning in advance and bring cash with you. 


Know what to drink

Grabbing a drink at home before you dine out, ordering non-alcoholic beverages and sticking with water are all ways to save money, but knowing what you're ordering is also beneficial. Check the menu for prices when looking for wine, beer and liquor, and don't be afraid to ask your server for a price if it's not listed. Remember, a recommended drink off the menu will not always be the best deal and if you don't ask, you could be ordering a $30 drink, rather than a $10 drink or something that will help you stay to your budget. 

Know the Parking Situation

Parking — from free parking to meters to valet only, the cost for parking can certainly add to the amount you spend when going out. Make sure you factor that in when deciding where to dine and do your research prior. There may very well be metered parking a block or two blocks away from a restaurant that appears to be valet only. Additionally, if you dine outside of the downtown area, you may find free parking available. 

Sign up for our Mailing List

If you want to stay in the know, be sure to sign up for our mailing list. You'll receive daily emails on the best deals in South Florida including where to dine out on the cheap. 

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Living on the CheapMiami on the Cheap is a member of Living on the Cheap, a network of websites published by frugalistas, journalists and consumer advocates. Find practical advice on saving money on groceries, travel and shopping, plus tips from our experts on how to live the good life for less at Living on the Cheap.

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