Thursday, July 30, 2009

10 Ways to Cut Your Restaurant Bill

My hubby and I like to eat out as my faithful readers know. I was wandering around the Internet and found this article that I thought would be perfect to share with all of you. Many of these suggestions my hubby I do on a regular basis..

10 Ways to Cut Your Restaurant Bill Big Time Money Smart Life

A common piece of money saving advice is to cut back on eating out. My wife and I eat in much more than out but like to hit the restaurants on Friday or Saturday nights. Below are 10 ways that we keep our food bill to a reasonable size.

Split It
We have a few favorite restaurants where we know they serve huge portions. Sharing a meal still fills us up and is easier on the wallet.

Fill Up On Freebies
I love restaurants that bring out free stuff before you get your food. If you load up on free chips and salsa or bread sticks
and salad you can easily split a meal and cut your bill in half.

Avoid Appetizers
As mentioned above, there are many restaurants that offer free food prior to your meal. Since appetizers can cost half or two thirds the cost of your main dish, I always go for the free food instead of paying for an appetizer.

Keep it Simple
Often the simplest things on the menu are the cheapest. Look for your basic burrito, spaghetti marinara, club sandwich, or other simple standby and you’ll likely score the best deal.

Skip the Booze
Alcohol has a huge markup, what else do I have to say? If you really need a drink, stay away from the fancy $9 fru-fru drink. Instead, stick with the basic bottled beer, drafts usually cost more.

Spend Less, Tip Less
If you tip as a percentage of your total bill then lowering your meal cost will save you on the tip as well. If you buy simpler meals, avoid appetizers, and don’t pay for alcohol then you can also save yourself some money on the tip.

Take Leftovers
I’m amazed at the number of people that throw away their left over food. Taking home your leftovers won’t save you money on the meal you’re eating but it might on the one you don’t have to buy tomorrow night.

Deal of the Day
Many restaurants offer specials on the weeknights to help bring people in during their slower times. Since we typically only eat out on the weekends we don’t take advantage of this technique but my in-laws eat out a lot and save money by always knowing which establishment in town is offering the deal of the day.

Use Your Gift Cards
If you’re like us you’ll always have several restaurant gift cards floating around the house from work or family gift exchanges. Our problem is that we often forget to use them. To help take advantage of the savings, keep them in your purse or wallet for easy access.
We’ll choose a restaurant because we have a gift card but by the end of the meal we’ve forgotten and don’t use it when the server brings the bill. The tip here is to put your gift card on the table when you arrive so you remember to use it.

One restaurant visit I had a rock in my burrito. On another I had the plastic top of the salad dressing in my salad. These are pretty much automatic free meals. Of course, luckily, things like this don’t happen all the time.

However, you know that guy that comes around and asks how your meal was? Let him know and it might get you a free or discounted dinner. You don’t have to make things up, just mention what you weren’t pleased with. The food was slow coming out, it wasn’t warm, it wasn’t what I ordered, I didn’t like it, or the meal wasn’t what I expected. It doesn’t hurt to try!
Bonus Tip – Eat on Your Birthday Take advantage of the restaurants that offer a free meal on your birthday, see “Free Stuff For Your Birthday” on the Personal Finance Advice site.

We do many of the above ideas. We try to eat out at lunch the menu prices are lower. We usually drink water with lemon. And of course we look for coupons for buy 1 get 1 free. Last Sunday I printed the coupon for TGIF I had posted about. We went to lunch after church. My meal was normal price but we got $5.00 off my hubby, sister and brother in laws meals. That was a total of $15.00 price cut on our bill. We split the savings $7.50 each couple so worked out pretty good for all of us.

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