It’s possible to live sensibly and still be on top of your finances. Eating out doesn’t have to break your budget.  Since we met each other in college, we learned some ways to have fun and cheap dates with eating out.

Frugal Tips on Eating Out

Here are some tips to maximize your meals:

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  • Dig to find local spots. We asked around and discovered a fantastic Cuban place in the area. Lunch specials (entrée and 2 sides) are $5.95 and dinner is $7.95. The portions are great and I usual have to have a to-go box.
  • Make a second meal on leftovers. Be conscious of portion sizes, as many restaurants serve a large amount. If salad is included with an dinner, then eat the entire salad before eating your entree. It fills you up and it’s generally good or you. Two meals for the price of one!
  • Get a discount online. See if they have lunch/dinner specials or use a site like Restaurant.com to get a deal on gift certificates. Sometimes you can get a $25 gift certificate for $10 or less!
  • Mix Appetizers. Sometimes you can get a good deal by having two appetizers.
  • Drink water. This is not a frugal tip, but more a health tip. Having water is a good thirst quencher and if the food is flavorful, it’s a nice complement. Water can also reduce your meal as some people confuse hunger for thirst.
  • Buying an Entertainment Book can save you some money if it includes restaurants you enjoy. We have gotten 50% some of our meals with the Buy One, Get One Free coupons.
  • Ask your friends and family to support you. Have an appetizer only night or agree to remind each other to stay on budget. It helps to involve your friends with your savings. It could also motivate them to watch their wallet.

We use these tips, but after doing them for a bit, it’s become a habit. We have a budget for eating out and we try to stay within the budget.

Caution: Do not be ‘frugal’ with the tip! Tips are a part of some one’s wages, so please be considerate. If you don’t have money to tip properly than you don’t have money to eat out.

Your Thoughts on Eating Out with a Budget

What do you do to save money when you go to eat out? Or do you set a budget, eat whatever you want,  and just stay within the limits?

Photo Credit: kspoddar