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Cheap Eats: 5 Ways to Dine Out For Less

It is safe to say that most people enjoy a meal out at least once in a while. For us we prefer this more often than not. It is entertaining, educational, and opens you up to new possibilities. Of course, we also know that dining out is more expensive than eating a homemade meal, but there are ways to combat the higher ticket prices if you are willing to be a little flexible. Here are our 5 top ways to score good eats at a reduced price.

1) DAILY SPECIALS

A lot of restaurants, as well as Bar & Grills, will offer daily specials at least on the weekdays. Some will even carry this over into the weekend, but those will usually end as you get closer to dinner time. A little research will identify places that offer this feature. If you can’t find anything published, be sure to ask your server about the daily specials. Often times these are unpublished, and usually only ordered by the locals.

2) BE LOYAL

Many restaurants have a loyalty program that includes getting on their mailing list. Usually this can be handled through email, and it comes with a variety of perks. Some of the ones we use will send an email coupon that is good for a free entree (with the purchase of one entree) during the birthday month. This is an especially good deal when it comes from a higher priced restaurant, as it can mean savings of up to $25. We have also seen punch card programs that reward the diner with a free meal after so many paid ones. If you have to dine there 5 times to get a free meal, then you are basically saving about 17% off of your total spend over those 6 meals.

3) DINE EARLIER

Upscale restaurants serve some fantastic meals, but have a price tag to match. You can often get the same meal for less if you dine during lunch. Be aware that they may also scale back the portion size for the lunch menu, but the quality of the meal should still be the same.

4) EAT SMALL

Have you ever considered making a meal from the items offered on the appetizer menu? Often you will find smaller versions of standard dishes here, and they are served in a manner to be shareable. If you add a couple of Ala carte sides to these you have the makings of a meal, and you can enjoy a wider selection of dishes.

5) HAPPY HOURS

One of our favorite cost saving methods is to visit during Happy Hour. While this option had faded some in the recent past, it is once again coming into vogue at many places. Happy Hour menus will be loaded with reduced prices on shareable plates, and even some full serving items. It is also a great opportunity to save a little green on drinks, as most places will have a good selection on hand. Do be aware that at some spots they require purchase of beverages to get the reduced food prices. Always check the menu, and if unsure ask your server.

With these tips in hand you should be able to stretch your dining out dollars, so that you can savor more of what is out there. We are sure that there are many other great ways to shave money off of your dining bill. We are always on the lookout for cost saving ideas, so please share some of your go-to methods?

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