Dining Out On a Dime – 10 Money-Saving Tips


I launched FinanceSuperhero in April 2016 to help others save money, get out of debt, earn more money, and live the best life possible. Send me an e-mail or a comment if I can help you in your journey. Thanks for reading!

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27 Responses

  1. These are great tips for having fun on a budget and a good reminder that just because you are saving aggressively, that you have to live a little too! I need to sign-up for Groupon again, I haven’t used it in years…

    Love the tag-team approach to the article and the pics!

    • Hero says:

      Thanks, Jon. We had a lot of fun writing this article together!

      Groupon has its pros and cons. We have to be very mindful of not being drawn in by daily deals on items that we don’t even want or need.

  2. I love the kids eat free list! As a parent of a growing boy, scoping out these restaurants is key. Especially since he basically eats as much as we do. I’ve been amazed by how he’ll finish his kid meal and then demand the food of my plate. No joke! Thanks for the tips!

    • Hero says:

      I see this frequently with my growing cousins and nephew, JW. If my future kids have an appetite like their father, I’m going to be in trouble! Though I eat much less than I used to, I could really throw down the meals when I was a teen. I miss my super-fast metabolism.

  3. These are super helpful! (Especially the list for those of us who do have kids!) We are not huge on going out to eat. We try to go to our local pubs and restaurants to support them. It is amazing how much work they put in – especially on nights and weekends, when everyone else wants to be out. I worked in a restaurant for years – so definitely appreciate them! My elderly parents always split meals or bring home part for lunch the next day too!

    • Hero says:

      I never worked at a restaurant, Vicki, but I did work at a large movie theater for several years in high school and college. It wasn’t much fun to be working every Friday/Saturday night while my friends were out having fun, but it afforded me proper perspective and a healthy appreciation for the work which servers and other food service employees put in on a nightly basis.

  4. The quality over quantity definitely resonates with me. I have no problem paying more for an amazing meal and also customer service. Poor customer service can be so aggravating and really can put a damper on an any occasion.

  5. Great list! I’ve never heard of Montara Grill but seeing that it’s not too far from us, I may have to check it out. A couple other suggestions;
    -Mystery Diner – several years back my wife and I did this, but basically you get your entire meal comped and in return you have to rate your dining experience.
    – Join Frequent Diner Clubs – My wife and I joined the lettuce entertain you frequent diner club. They send us coupons for b-days and anniversaries and you also get points for every dollar you spend which can be used towards your next meal.

    • Hero says:

      Good ideas, FF! We dine at Lettuce Entertain You restaurants several times each year, so I’ll have to look into the club. I will add these ideas to the list today!

  6. These are some awesome tips. We recently tried Salsarita’s and the food was amazing. I had no idea that kids could eat free on Thurs so we will definitely use this to our advantage!

    Being a tightwad that I am, spending money on dining out is one area I find the hardest to deal with. I’ve gone months where I forced myself to no dining out completely. Other months I tried to limit our spending to $25 only (for a family of 4). When that didn’t work, we upped it to $50 a month.

    Needless to say, we’re in need of some better strategies so I’m sure some of these will help. I haven’t really utilized Restaurant.com or Groupon since getting married, but it may be wise to take a second look – at least for my budget’s sake.

    Thanks for sharing these!

  7. We try to utilize gift cards and coupons as much as possible. However, I would say that having our daughter has been the biggest reason our dining bill has gone down over the last year. We really don’t eat out as much right now, opting for home meals instead. I know this will change a bit as she gets older but then we will start going after those kids eat free deals you mentioned!

  8. I love it, tag team blog writing. With all due respect to those who take advantage of dining out specials, my experience has been thet the type of places that offer specials generally aren’t the sort of establishments that I want eat at. I am a bit fussy when it comes to dining out as i set very high standards for my own cooking which are often not met in mid to low range restaurants. In fact, i have found that even many more expensive restaurants done live up to their reputation. That’s why we eat in most nights and I cook which I also love. Keeps costs down, we know what we’re eating and can control that, and, I have to say, the meals are superb. Table for sir?

    • Hero says:

      You raise an important point, Martin. It’s not really a “deal” if you’re dining out on a ho-hum meal. We have been burned on that a few times, but fortunately at a low cost.

      I, too, love to cook and even bake, but time rarely allows me to do so these days. Weekends are my go-to cooking days.

  9. Nancy says:

    My absolute favorite: Go for lunch. I’m going to New Orleans in two weeks with My Favorite Sister; we’re eating at one of the Must Go But Bring A Pile Of Dough restaurants. Not doing dinner, though–we’ll be there for lunch. Same good food, lower price. Bragging rights, if you’re into that kind of thing.

    • Hero says:

      Great tip, Nancy. Lunch deals offer a great value, as you said. Another benefit: if you’re taking in high-calorie food at lunch, you have much more time to burn it off.

  10. With food budget being a huge factor in my expense category (it’s almost half my all-in rent cost!) these are great tips. I like the groupon tip, I haven’t used it yet but I’m going to use it in the next couple of days and try it out. I would love to pay $35 to get $50 worth of food to try a restaurant so why not?!

  11. ZJ Thorne says:

    I love happy hour deals and splitting entrees with my girlfriend. So many places offer such big portions, that two women can eat the meal and be full.

  12. MMD says:

    Restaurant.com was our go-to for years to get awesome 50% dishes. Unfortunately, a lot of the good local restaurants no longer participate.

    Our trick is to simply always order water for our drink. Saves our family of 4 at least $10 on just soft drinks!

  13. 1) Don’t be embarrassed to share meals.
    2) Only drink water.
    3) No appetizers and no desserts.
    4) Join customer club or use coupons.
    5) But… tip based upon full value of the meal.

    • Hero says:

      Thanks for sharing some really useful tips, Mike. They are great suggestions to enjoy a satisfying experience that doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Drinks and dessert can be enjoyed later at home, if desired, for a fraction of the cost.

  14. TJ says:

    I have to assume that your mother’s homemade pizza tastes better than Little Caesars or Dominos. 😀

    I’ve been known to eat out fairly cheaply. There also tends to be a lot of deals at lunch time and the portions aren’t necessarily smaller.

    I actually used to eat out every meal…basically from college through last month, but now I’m only eating out at lunch during the week.

    I picked up a lot of frozen beef and turkey burger patties at Trader Joes and I can cook and eat and clean up generally in 30 to 40 minutes which is less time than it takes for me to drive somewhere else, wait fort he food to cook, eat it and come back. Eggs and potatoes for breakfast. Super easy. Huge money saver too.

    But i’m only 1 person. I can see why cooking for a family would feel exhausting. I don’t know how my dad do it in addition to his career.

    I’d recommend taking a look at the RewardsNetwork such as IDine or the affiliated airline and hotel point dining services. You can usually stack those with any of the other discounts you’re already getting.

  15. I’m so hungry now! These are great tips. I need to get better at following the daily specials around town. One of our favorite restaurants doesn’t post them on their website and, you’d think we’d remember over time since they haven’t changed in forever, yet it’s always a surprise for us when we get there. Sighs.

    Another tip I think is worth sharing is using the Entertainment book. What I like about it is that for the cost of 1 book (which goes on sale all the time) you can get a ton of high-value restaurant coupons – along with other services and retailers. When we vacation I’ll usually order one for the area we’ll be visiting so that we have it handy then too. Anyways, something to consider.

  1. December 9, 2016

    […] Dining Out On a Dime – 10 Money-Saving Tips […]

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