Making Dining Out Affordable

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The average American eats out more than once per week. Give yourself a break from cooking but don't break the bank by using these money-saving strategies. Pre-plan and take advantage of these great deals for the family. You can make dining out affordable and fun with a little economic ingenuity.

Arrive Early

The early bird special isn't just for senior citizens. Often, restaurants try to rustle up business during the usually "dead" hours between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. with special deals. At the least, you will be able to order off of the lunch menu rather than the dinner menu, which, at some establishments, can jump in price to almost double the cost. Coming in early will also be a lot easier on you if you have a toddler. You will have more attention from your server in case of any spills or messes. Plus, you can head out before the dinner rush arrives.


There are myriad coupon sites on the web where you can find restaurant deals for up to 1/2 off of a dinner check. You just need to surf around and look for places in your area. Usually, the coupons come with stipulations like, alcoholic beverages aren't covered or it won't be available for use on Friday nights and weekends, when restaurants make most of their money.

Don't Buy Extra

When you get to the restaurant, just order your meal. Sounds simple, right? But if your kids are starving by the time you get there, besides some grumpy tablemates, you'll have them clamoring for extras, like pricey appetizers. Kids' meals are priced affordably but appetizers can cost as much as an adult meal. If your kids fill up on a plate of bread or fried stuff then they won't have room for their dinners and you'll have wasted your money, not to mention an opportunity to feed them healthfully. Most kid-approved appetizers tend to consist of meat and cheese, usually fried.