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Top Ways to Save Money When Dining Out

by helenonthesofa (follow)
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Going out for dinner is great idea for a romantic night with your partner, for fun with friends or simply just to get a night off cooking and washing up afterwards. However, if you're on a budget it can also be an expensive past time one that is best left for special occasions such as celebrations and birthdays. If you are heading out to a restaurant, and are worried about the cost creeping up, here are a few hints:

Photo: Apolonia, Freedigitalphotos.net

1) Look for special offers such as early bird dining, set menus and other promotional offers.

2) If you're planning on drinking alcohol, seek out a restaurant that offers free corkage or corkage at a very small fee. This will save you having to spend your money on the inflated prices of wine in restaurants.

3) Take advantage of deals on popular discount sites such as Scoopon , Groupon where great deals can be found for half price meals, dinner deals and buy one meal get one free. Such deals can really bring down the cost of eating out. If you regularly eat out, an Entertainment card will also cut the cost of meals out.

4) If you frequent a restaurant on regular occasions, see if they have a frequent diners card that you can get to bring down the cost of your meals out. An example of this is the Hogs Breath frequent diners card, that you are eligible for once you get 6 stamps on your card. Once you've achieved this, you can save 25% on your meals thereafter.

Save money by using frequent diners cards

5) Time your dinner out with your birthday and take advantage of all the restaurants and eateries that offer free birthday offers. Check out the 'Birthday Offer' category on Money Off for more details.

6) If you're on a strict budget, opt for a starter portion as at many restaurants they are as big as the main meal but almost half of the price.

7) If you're going for a main meal, maybe skip on starters and dessert. Better still, seek out a restaurant that offers free bread on the table.

8) If you're going out with a large group of friends and are on a tight budget, you might want to make sure that you don't have to split the bill and end up paying for someone else's indulgences. Whilst sometimes looked on as a bit of a social faux pas to need to split the bill, if you've only had a $15 starter for your whole meal and stuck to tap water, it's not fair to have to then shell out over $50 for a share of the bill.

9) In Australia, don't tip your waiter unless you've received excellent service. Unlike other countries, the minimum wage in Australia is higher for service staff such that they don't come to depend upon tips to make up part of their wage. So maybe save your big tipper days until you have lots of cash to spare, or until you receive truly standout service.

10) If you've got kids in your dining party, look out for restaurants offering 'kids eat free' offers. There are a tonne of restaurants out there who have this offer on, as they've cottoned on to the fact that where kids eat free, parents come in their numbers and pay for their meals.

What tips do you have for saving money when you are eating out?

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Some great hints here! When eating out, I always tend to go to restaurants where they are offering a buy one get one free meal or a percentage off. Recently my family had lunch at a pancake eatery and saved $20 off the bill. I find drinks to be really overpriced and ask for a bottle of water.
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