20 Easy Ways to Save Money Eating Out At Restaurants

Due to a busy routine and other hectic responsibilities, people do not have enough time to cook a meal at home. Most people eat out because it saves a lot of their time. However, dining out is very expensive, and sometimes people explore different options to save money.

There are a lot of cheap restaurants across the country. Making a meal at home can save many dollars. For example, you have to pay $8 at a restaurant for a plate of eggs. If you make this plate at home, it will cost you just a few pennies.  

Why is Dining Out Expensive?

It is an expensive option if you want to eat at the restaurant because they usually charge three times more than the original price of the ordered food. In a bill, they include advertising costs, wait staff, ambiance, rent of the building, and many more. 

How much do Americans Spend on Dining Out?

A recent survey shows Americans spend one-third of their income on dining out and takeout purchases. The report states that approximately Americans eat out 5.9 times a week, and a meal cost is around $37.40 per person. 

Moreover, if you get the average of each household, they spend annually $2375. The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts a pool around the United States. They get the result that the average family spends $198 on food cooked outside.  

Save Money Eating Out

What are the Reasons People Go Out to Eat?

  • Due to socialize
  • Convenience
  • Saves time
  • Celebrate a special occasion
  • Try new and tasty foods
  • Laziness

20 Ways to Save Money Eating Out

Everyone knows cooking at home saves many dollars instead of purchasing takeout and eating a meal out. But the problem is that you are not always at home or don’t have some extra time for cooking. Due to this, people prefer to eat outside. In the following section, we will discuss tips that save money whenever you go out to any restaurant.  

Skip Beverages:

The first tip is to skip the beverages when ordering from a restaurant because they charge more for soda, tea, and coffee. Give an order for tap water instead of expensive drinks, and never contain bottled water because it is a little pricey. 

Beware of ‘Upsells:’

Beware of upsells because they always insist customers choose something extra with their order. For example, if you ordered the plain potato plate, they will ask you to try a loaded potato with extra cheese, etc. So always say “No” with a courtesy smile. They are trained, and the item they suggest costs more money.

Prepare the Sides Yourself:

Save money by preparing the sides of your dish at home. For example, get the main dish from the restaurant, take it home, cook some vegetables in the microwave, and set the sides with those vegetables.

Eat Out During the Happy Hours:

There are a lot of restaurants that offer special discounts during happy hours. At that time, you can get benefits from their special deals. For example, some offer discounts on buffets and finger foods. Others offer a free or 50% discount on appetizers. 

Be an Early Bird:

If you want to go out for dinner, visit early before the rush starts because they offer special discounts and charge less money during off-peak hours. Most retirees follow this tip and eat more at a lower price.

Go on a Diet:

Usually, restaurants deliver more orders and overfeed their customers to earn more profit. At that time, be aware, and if you receive more food, put the extra food in a to-go box and reserve your food for the next time.

Skip the Entrée:

It is an excellent, cost-effective approach to skipping the entrée. Make a habit of using an appetizer before the meal because it is cheaper than the entrée, and you can share it with others. 

Share a Meal:

Share your meal with other people if you order a full-sized dish. Get an extra plate from the server to share your food. This option is beneficial when you are eating with kids.

Dine on National Days:

On national days, many restaurants offer many items free of cost. So you need to grab this opportunity and enjoy complimentary appetizers, desserts, salsa, entrees, etc.

Seek out the Best Deals:

There are a lot of restaurants that offer something extra to attract customers. The deals they offer are different. For example, some provide half-priced meals on Wednesdays, some offer free food to kids, and some offer unique entrees on special occasions. You only need to explore the best places that offer special deals.

Sign up for Rewards:

Social media platforms also play a vital role in saving money on a meal. Many diners offer a promo code or other deals if you promote their brand on a different online platform.

Advertisement is a great way to attract more customers. You can join the restaurant’s loyalty program. Many restaurants offer free food and discounts to their loyal customers on their birthdays.

Use Coupons & Money-Saving Apps:

Use coupons, promo codes, and money-saving apps to get some benefits while eating at their cafe. To attract more customers, they publish the codes in the weekly newspapers. Ibotta or Groupon are the best online options when you feel hungry. Use both platforms to find the best deals.

Use a Meal Delivery Service:

Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and EveryPlate provide food delivery services. Ordering online will save money as compared to dining out. For example, the average per-person meal cost of a restaurant meal is $13, and when you get it through the EveryPlate, it costs $4.99.

Save Dining Out for Special Occasions:

Going out to eat something from the restaurant on special occasions is pleasant. You can enjoy many great deals and save much money on these occasions.

Challenge Yourself:

If you have extra time for cooking at home, challenge yourself to never go out to a restaurant and use cooked food outside. Try as much as possible because this develops a good habit in yourself and you can save enough money.

Avoid Sticker Shock:

Before visiting any restaurant, make a proper plan. Visit their official website and read their menu and prices. Then, order the things according to that plan and on your budget. If you order something that sounds good, you have to pay more, which will disturb your budget.

Eat Brunch:

Take a healthy breakfast late, between 10 am to 11 am. In this way, you can save money by skipping your lunch and having dinner early. 

Pay with a Rewards Card:

Use reward cards to pay the bills for your meal. You also have the option to pay the bill at the end of each month. Using a reward card allows you to earn rewards like cash back, discounts on airline tickets, and many more. 

Snack Before You Go:

Before eating a meal out, take some snacks with you because they take a lot of time to prepare an ordered meal. If you eat some snacks and nuts before the meal, you will eat less food, and you can save many of your dollars.

Eat off the Kid’s Menu:

Many restaurants offer priced meals for kids. If there is no age restriction, order the meal from the kid’s menu and save money.

Save Money Eating Out

Best Cheap Eats in New York City

  •   7th St Burger
  •   Banh mi Saigon
  •   Birria-Landia
  •   Cheeky Sandwiches
  •   Daily provisions
  •   Ess-A-Bagel
  •   Evelia’s Tamales
  •   Halal Guys
  •   Joe’s Steam Rice Roll
  •   Los Tacos No. 1
  •   Mamoun’s Falafel
  •   Mei Lai Wah
  •   Scarr’s Pizza
  •   Shu Jiao Fu Zhou
  •   Tiki Chick
  •   Trapizzino
  •   Two Hands
  •   Veselka
  •   Wonton Noodle Garden
  •   Xi’an Famous Foods

Best Cheapest Restaurant to Eat at

According to our personal experience, we will choose the best and most affordable restaurants that are as follows;

  • Olive Garden
  • Chiu Quon
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Caja Caliente
  • Pretty much any Mom & Pop café
  • El Torero
  • Privately owned Chinese/Thai restaurants
  • Village Inn
  • Chili’s
  • IHOP
  • Red Robin
  • All the restaurants that are located in a ‘strip mall

How to Eat for $10 a Week?

Who has a $1 Menu?

In the country, many establishments offer a $1 menu to assist their customers. We have featured all the $1 menu restaurant lists.

Burger King:

Burger King offered the $1 menu named as Your Way menu.

Following are the best options that are included in the Burger King $1 menu;

  • Hamburger or Cheeseburger
  • Fries
  • Crispy Chicken Jr Sandwich
  • 2 Cookies
  • Bacon Cheeseburger
  • Spicy Crispy Chicken Jr Sandwich
  • Small Hashbrowns
  • Rodeo Burger
  • 16-oz Soft Drink
  • 3 pcs French Toast Sticks
  • Sausage Biscuit
  • Soft-Serve Cone or Cup

Taco Bell:

The name of the $1 menu in Taco Bell is Cravings. And the things that are included in this menu are as follows;

  • Beefy Fritos Burrito
  • Spicy Potato Soft Taco
  • Triple Layer Nachos
  • Cheesy Roll-up
  • Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito
  • Chicken Mini Quesadilla
  • Spicy Tostada
  • Beefy Mini Quesadilla


In Arby’s $1 menu, the items included are 

  • Shakes 
  • Small fries
  • Small drinks


They offer six items at a $1 price and no specific menu. The name of the $1 items are as follow;

  • Small Frosty
  • Jr. Cheeseburger
  • Value Fries
  • (4 pcs) Regular or Spicy Chicken Nuggets
  • Value Soft Drink
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Where can I get the most food for $5?

Following are the best restaurants that charge $5 for a meal.

  • Little Caesars
  • Taco Bell
  • Smashburger
  • Dairy Queen
  • Wendy’s
  • Arby’s
  • McDonald
  • Burger King
  • Subway
  • Chick-fil-A

Free Meals for Birthdays

Following are the best options to enjoy free food on your birthday after creating a new account for their reward program. While creating an account, include your birthday to benefit on that particular day.

  • Arby’s
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Bertucci’s
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Baskin-Robbins
  • Chipotle
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Chevys Fresh Mex
  • Denny’s
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels
  • Fuddruckers
  • Firehouse Subs
  • IHOP
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Jersey Mike’s
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Red Robin
  • Starbucks
  • Waffle House
  • Zaxby’s
  • P.F. Chang’s

Is eating out a waste of money?

According to Dave Ramsey, eating out is a waste of money if you are in debt. 

Sharing Is Caring:

Jessica joined savvybudgetnow in 2022 as a Content Analyst. An MBA-Finance graduate from Alaska Pacific University with three years of experience. She is a seasoned content writer specializing in finance niches and has worked as a content writer with Yahoo Finance, adding to her extensive expertise. Follow her on Twitter (@JessicaArn97) and LinkedIn (@jessica-arnold-53132120b)

Leave a Comment