The Saver's Guide to Dining Out: 15 Things You Should Keep In Mind When Dining Out On a Budget

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The Saver's Guide to Dining Out: 15 Things You Should Keep In Mind When Dining Out On a Budget
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The Saver's Guide to Dining Out: 15 Things You Should Keep In Mind When Dining Out On a Budget

While it’s nice to treat yourself and others to dinner at a restaurant, eating out can quickly rack up an expensive bill. Read on to discover 15 things you should keep in mind when dining out on a budget.

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Eat Out For Lunch

The lunch menu is often much cheaper than the dinner menu. Although the portion sizes are smaller and there is less variety, you can still enjoy a wonderful meal and check that restaurant off your list.

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Split Your Meal

Restaurant portion sizes can be generous. Save money by splitting an appetizer and an entrée with another person.

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Pack Leftovers

Don’t force yourself to finish your plate. Instead, ask the waiter to pack your leftovers, which can become a second meal for later.

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Stick With Water

Soda and alcoholic beverages can take your bill over the edge. Just stick to tap water—it’s a free and healthy choice!

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Choose BYOB Restaurants

You can avoid the mark-up of alcoholic drinks by choosing restaurant with a BYOB, or “bring your own bottle”, policy. Even if you pay a corkage fee, the savings will be significant.

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Get Social

Follow your favorite restaurants on Twitter, like them on Facebook and check-in through apps like Yelp and Foursquare. These are great ways to discover special discounts.

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Check For Online Deals

Websites like Groupon and LivingSocial post deals every day for restaurants in your area, and reputable coupon-code sites are goldmines for discounts. You can also check the restaurant’s website for promotions.

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Ask About Mid-week Specials

The slowest days for restaurants are typically Tuesday and Wednesday, so some restaurants run special mid-week deals to draw in customers.

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Order The Better Value

Anything you can make at home, you should! Eating out is your chance to try something special. Choosing high-quality items will get you the most for your money. One waiter tells Real Simple to avoid chicken and pasta, which have a high mark-up, and choose beef, pork or seafood instead.

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Go Early

Dine before 6 p.m. to get the early-bird special. A U.S. News article points out that families with young children can take advantage of early dining and get the kids back home in time for bedtime.

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Dine At the Bar

Sitting at the bar is a great budget-conscious way to try an expensive restaurant. Often, the bar menu is cheaper, and with the right timing you might be able to take advantage of happy hour-priced drinks, too.

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Become a Regular

Some restaurants offer loyalty programs with incentives, while others might slip in a free appetizer or other item to their favorite customers. Get to know the owners of your favorite eatery.

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Don’t Judge a Restaurant By Its Décor

While hole-in-the-wall restaurants might not look like much, their lower overhead costs mean they can invest more in the food. Separate the duds from the hidden gems by checking them out beforehand on Yelp.

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Have a Snack Beforehand.

A small snack beforehand can help curb your appetite, so that you don’t end up ordering everything you crave off the menu.

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Check For Included Gratuity

Avoid tipping twice by making sure your bill doesn’t already include gratuity.

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According to a mindful spending study conducted by Chase Blueprint, most Americans agree that it is important to treat yourself and are more likely to spend their money engaging in activities like dining out at a restaurant.

While it's nice to treat yourself and others to dinner at a restaurant, eating out can quickly rack up an expensive bill.

Check out the slideshow above to discover 15 things you should keep in mind when dining out on a budget.

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