How to Eat Out on a Budget

We've curated a collection of clever tips to help you relish your dining experiences without breaking the bank.

Indulging in a meal out with loved ones is undeniably delightful, but the dent it can leave in your wallet isn't quite as appealing. Fear not! We've curated a collection of clever tips to help you relish your dining experiences without breaking the bank.

Navigate the Menu Wisely

When faced with a menu, resist the allure of the right side, where the priciest items often reside. Instead, shift your gaze to the left, where you'll find more budget-friendly options and appetizers that can serve as satisfying main courses.

Capitalize on Off-Peak Dining

Mondays and Tuesdays may not be the most thrilling days of the week, but they offer prime opportunities for budget-conscious diners. Restaurants tend to be quieter during these days, translating to enticing specials and discounts for savvy patrons.

Beware the Chef's "Special"

That tantalizing dish labeled as the Chef's Special might not be as exceptional as it sounds. Often, it's just a clever marketing tactic to justify inflated prices. Stick to the regular menu for better value and trusted favorites.

Steer Clear of Holiday Hustle

While celebrating special occasions at restaurants may seem festive, it often comes with inflated prices and fixed-price menus. Consider commemorating these events on alternate days to enjoy the same culinary delights at a fraction of the cost.

Take the Feast Home

Transform your dining-out experience into a cozy affair at home by opting for takeout. Not only will you save on service charges and beverage markups, but you can also elevate your meal with homemade sides and desserts for a cost-effective yet indulgent dining experience.

Quench Your Thirst Economically

Escape the grip of overpriced beverages by opting for a simple glass of water. This small switch can yield significant savings on your final bill, allowing you to relish your meal without fretting over expenses.

Hunt for Hidden Deals

Before venturing out, scour the web for enticing deals and coupons. Websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Restaurant.com often feature tempting offers that can enhance your dining experience while keeping your wallet happy.

Share the Joy

Rather than tackling hefty portions solo, consider splitting an entrée with your dining companion. Not only does this foster camaraderie, but it also slashes costs without compromising on satisfaction.

Embrace Your Youthful Appetite

Explore the kids' menu for wallet-friendly options that still deliver on taste. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the variety and value offered, making it a win-win for both your taste buds and your budget.

Exercise Dessert Discretion

Allow your stomach time to signal satiety before indulging in dessert. By postponing your sweet treat, you may find yourself too full to partake, sparing both your waistline and your wallet.

Lunchtime Delights

Explore lunch specials, which often feature smaller portions at reduced prices. Dining out earlier in the day can yield significant savings while still satisfying your culinary cravings.

Set a “Fun Money” Budget

An easy way to budget for and manage your spending around things like eating out, or other fun expenditures, is to set aside a small amount of each paycheck for fun outings. Some financial institutions, like Forest Area Federal Credit Union, offer Sub Share accounts that are perfect for budgeting. Determine how much you are comfortable with setting aside each check and have those funds directly deposited into your Sub Share account so you can leave them untouched until you decide to go out to eat.