Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dine on a Dime

We love to eat out but do not get to do that very often thanks to our current financial situation.  However, we do try to go out every so often and we have learned how to enjoy a good meal for next to nothing.  Here are a few tips on how to save while dining out:

Order a la carte. I can't stand to buy kid's meals when my child barely eats any of it but at the same time he is at a stage where he thinks he has to have his own plate.  Many times I am able to get him a small item or a bowl of soup for very little money.  This weekend my parents treated us to IHOP and our oldest wanted a blueberry pancake.  We asked if we could get just one for him and they were happy to oblige.  It only cost us $1.39 whereas all the kids meals were at least $3.99.

Drink Water.  Most places charge an arm and a leg for drinks so we mostly drink water.  We have discovered the few places around town where it is cheap to buy a soda or tea and sometimes we will splurge there.

Think outside the box. One of our favorite places to grab a quick bite to eat is Sam's Club.  We can feed the entire family, with drinks, for just over $7.  Then we roam the aisles and enjoy a few samples before checking out.  

Dollar menu.  The dollar menu is usually the first place we look when looking at a fast food menu.  We do not need the large portions that come with most combos and are completely satisfied eating off the cheaper menu.

Split meals or items.  My husband and I have very different tastes in food so this can be hard sometimes but I do it with friends every now and then.  Also, many times when eating fast food we will get one order of fries and split it between everyone.

Coupons. Search for coupons on the internet, newspaper, mail, etc to save on eating out.  We have several local coupon publications and I've discovered a few great places to eat simply by trying out one of the fabulous coupons in the publications.

Using these tactics, we are usually able to feed our entire family for under $10 at most fast food places and we try to limit it to $15-20 at other places.  We do not eat at sit down restaurants often due to two active children so fast food or quick casual is usually where we stop to eat.

What tips do you have for eating out without breaking the bank?


Anonymous said...

We keep a list of "kids eat free" places handy. And try to plan meals out based around it.
Always remember, if you are eating at a sit down place and using a coupon or freebie to tip according to what your meal would have been before discounts.

Julie said...

Great point on tipping according to the full price. I try to keep this in mind when eating out but I know there are many who do not.

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