25. Save $100-$200 per month – Save money on dine-outs

This article describes ways for you to save money on dining or dine-outs.

No more dine-outs. You have had your days when you were regularly picking up your paycheck. But remember, times have changed. Get on a diet that saves you money. You can also throw a house party, like barbeque at home with the family and save money. Or you could go eat out (restaurant) 1 time per 2-4 weeks instead of once per week.

Party at home. We cut out eating out and grill instead makes kids feel like we're partying.

Meet a friend for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner. Dinner is always the most expensive meal if you're eating out. Do lunch instead of dinner. Lunch menus usually offer the same entrees as dinner, just smaller portions and a smaller check.

Limit eating lunch out, and try brown bag lunches.

If you can pick the time, choose a weeknight to eat out. Many specials and coupons don’t apply to weekends or other busy times. Dine out during the week rather than on the weekends. Often the menu prices climb over the weekend.

Check out the price of “Today’s Special” before ordering. It isn’t necessarily a special price.

If you have a family, go to a place where kids can order off of the lower priced kid’s menu.

If you aren’t a big eater, share a main entrée with your partner and add a side salad to cut your bill almost in half. Share an entrée or stick with the appetizer menu. Many restaurants serve portions that are too large for one person to finish.

Go vegetarian. Vegetarian entrees are usually less expensive than ones made with meat.

Go ethnic. Some ethnic foods are better bargains than others. You can get a lot of food for the money in Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and Thai restaurants.

Dine early. Many restaurants offer specials before 6 p.m. It's perfect for making a show on time or for parents who need to make an early night of it.

The markup on alcoholic beverages in restaurants is high. Instead of having a drink with dinner, have a glass of wine or some brandy after you get home.

Have a candlelight dinner at home, and then go out for coffee and dessert.

Instead of eating in a restaurant, order out! It's customary to tip a few dollars to the delivery person, but not as much as at a restaurant, where the usual tip is 15 to 20 percent.

1. Use 2-for-1 coupons.
You'll find them in the newspaper or in direct mail offers those buy-one-meal-get-the-other-one-free deals. Use them as a way to discover new restaurants you haven't tried yet or just to save money when you feel like eating out. Get more restaurant coupons here.

2. Discover the Happy Hour Menu.
Most restaurants that have a full-service bar are now offering Happy Hour menus. If you want to eat between 3pm-6pm, there are some really great deals out there. Try a 1/4-pound cheeseburger and fries for anywhere from $1.95 to $2.95, soups and salads, nachos, tacos, chicken strips, ribs and much, much more. Of course, this is only for adults; no children are allowed. Another thing, most bars will require a minimum drink purchase, but the good thing is that even the booze is usually discounted during Happy Hour.

3. Split dinners.
This works best in Italian or Chinese restaurants, but it can be used anywhere. At restaurants known for exceptionally large servings, order only one entree and split it. For a family of four, order only two or three entrees and divvy them up among yourselves. With fully one-third of our population categorized as obese, doesn't this idea seem a lot more practical?

4. Buffet meals for family fare.
When taking the family out to dinner, consider restaurants that have buffets. In most cases, the prices are outstanding and a parent can share with a small child. They are usually all-you-can-eat, and there is something for everyone. Other than fast-food restaurants, buffets are one place that won't break the bank when eating out.

5. Try out appetizers.
Better restaurants usually have a long list of appetizers that are reasonably priced. If you're not outrageously hungry, perhaps there's a yummy item on the appetizer menu that will satisfy your hunger. Also, don't be afraid to ask for fresh bread to accompany your meal.

6. Watch what you drink.
Many times the cost of your drinks can total more than the cost of your meal. How about a cocktail or a glass of wine at home before you leave for the restaurant. This could save you a fortune if you eat out frequently. Limit yourself to water with a squeeze of lemon or lime with your meal. Also, get your after-dinner cup of coffee at home, too. Drinks, including sodas, have some of the highest mark-ups.

7. Ask for a doggie bag.
It really isn't necessary to clean your plate off. Eat what you feel comfortable with and take the rest home for another meal. This in itself is a 2-for-1 deal.

8. Try lunch instead of dinner.
Many of the expensive restaurants are also open for lunch, but the lunch menu can be as much as half the cost of their dinner menu. If you're dying to try a pricey new eatery, why not go for lunch and keep the cost down.

9. Older is better.
Some places it's 50, others it's 55, 60, 62 or 65, but seniors can luck out at many restaurants that offer them a discount. Sometimes senior discounts are offered on specific nights of the week. Call your favorite restaurants and ask if they offer senior discounts. Also, places like Denny's and IHOP have senior menus offering smaller quantities and lower prices, and many times you don't have to be a senior to enjoy the savings.

10. Check out online specials.
If you have favorite chain restaurants, check their sites out online to see if they have specials you can take advantage of. Sign up for their newsletter to receive coupons, special offers and freebies on your birthday. Some of these restaurants include TGI Fridays, Dairy Queen and Pizza Hut.

Go out to dinner for half price

Normal = Go to the same few restaurants all the time and pay full price
I love to try new restaurants, but since it is quite an expensive hobby – it is nice when you can save a few bucks. Enter the Entertainment Book. This wonderful tool costs about $25, but will pay for itself quickly if you use it a couple of times. It is available for most large U.S. cities and has thousands of coupons to participating restaurants – most of which are buy-one-get-one-free. This is one of my favorites ways to find new places to eat and save money in the process. Also consider Restaurant.com who sells $25 gift certificates (with restrictions) for $10 to thousands of restaurants across the country.
Today’s tip is to have people over to your house instead of meeting at a bar or a restaurant.
This is one of the most cost-effective things you can do this month — even if you only do it once or twice. Let’s assume you spent $50 each time you go out, including gas, drinks, food, tips, tax, misc (valet / lending money you’ll forget to get back / buying gum). Changing your spending pattern for just one of those can save you hundreds per year.

Cutting back on dining out is the No. 1 or No. 2 money-saving move for Americans, no matter their income, according to WSL Strategic Retail. That's led to new nesting around the kitchen table for many Americans who have been hooked on dining out for a generation.
Cyrus Tookes of Jacksonville says he and his family of six children have "tightened the reins a bit" on food and clothing expenses. They're cooking more at home, and they're buying in bulk, too.

He and his wife, Monique, also started putting smaller portions of food on each child's plate after discovering that "the trash can was eating better than we were!"

Cut back on dining out in favor of dinner parties and good food and wine for your family at home.

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