Being a poor college student can be hard, especially when you want to go out to eat. Here are 10 tips to save money when you go out so that you can enjoy that time with family and friends:
P.S. This applies to American restaurants
1. Choose a restaurant that doesn’t require a tip. And if it does, add it up ahead of time–while you’re choosing your dish–so you’re not surprised when the check arrives at your table.
2. Scan the menu for cheaper items. Unless you’ve saved your money or plan to split the dish with someone, you don’t need to spend 20 bucks on a steak; you can be content with a 10-dollar burger or salad.
3. Skip the appetizers. Sometimes appetizers are cheaper than entrees and so people will order them in place of their meal. But when you add an appetizer on top of your meal it adds up so quick, especially if you order a drink also! Tip: Go to a restaurant that already serves an appetizer like bread and butter or chips and salsa.
4. Don’t give into the Specials. Usually they’re more expensive than the menu items, which is why they are highlighted by the waitstaff.
5. Order Soup and salad. Olive Garden’s unlimited soup and salad AND bread sticks for $7-9. Best. deal. ever.
6. Split an entrée with a friend. I’ve split meals at Moe’s (burritos), Subway ($5 footlong), The Cheesecake factory (pasta dish), McAlister’s (Spud Max – it’s huge!), Mexican Restaurants (fajitas) and other places. It’s totally do-able. Especially if you don’t like to eat leftovers.
7. When eating fast food, check the dollar menu first. My dad always orders a Wendy’s baked potato with chives and sour cream and a small burger for $2 with tax!
8. Drink water. Did you know that it only costs restaurants around 10 cents to fill your glass with soda? And yet you paid $3 for it? Restaurants make money off of their drinks, knowing customers will pay for it. Don’t be that customer. :D
9. And along with the drinks, pass on desserts; reserve them for special occasions. Or order one to split with the table.
10. Decide what you’re going to eat before you go out! Lots of restaurants post their menu online. Check it out before you leave so you have more time to thoughtfully decide on your dish. That way you don’t give into special deals or the pressure of “ahh I’ll just pick this one cause I’m holding up the server.”
Got any more tips? Post them in the comments below!