Based on a report by the National Restaurant Association, Americans spend over $825 billion at restaurants each year, according to. To make their business profitable, restaurants generally charge four times (on average) per dish as the cost of the ingredients. If you want to save a few dollars from your bill, here are some tips shared by restaurant owners and servers:
1. Skip the drinks.
Bottled water and sodas are very expensive in restaurants especially the pricier establishments. Restaurants may not offer tap water if they deem it unsafe for drinking. So, if you don’t want to pay $2-$6 for a bottle of water, you may want to bring your own.
2. Follow your favorite restaurants on social media.
3. Order a lunch dish for dinner.
Some restaurants refer to this as “linner.” A lunch dish is usually smaller in size than dinner dishes but they are much cheaper. If they don’t have this as an option, perhaps you can dine at lunch time instead.
4. Order a combo.
Value meals are exactly that – they give you more bang for your buck. So you can get two dishes for less than what you’d pay if you order each dish individually.
5. Order only appetizers.
If you’re dining in a group, ordering several appetizers instead of an appetizer and mains can help you save money.
6. Share the entrée.
Another tactic is to share one entrée with those you’re dining out with.
7. Split the dessert.
Most people are already full after eating the mains and eating an entire dessert can seem like gluttony. Save money by simply sharing a dessert with 2-3 people.
8. Ask about discounts.
Teachers, military, veterans, students and senior citizens are eligible for discounts in most restaurants. They may not advertise it but if you inquire, you may be able to get as much as a 15% discount off your bill.
9. Skip the specials
The specials may sound delicious but they are often more expensive that the menu items. Servers will usually offer it to you – just politely decline it.
10. Go at happy hour.
Great deals are often in store during happy hour. Be sure to check with the restaurant if they have one.
11. Look for vouchers and coupons online.
Groupon, Yelp, Pulsd and similar sites usually offer amazing deals on restaurants. Sign up for these and check their sites regularly for promos.
12. Don’t go to a restaurant starving.
You’ll end up ordering more food and paying more than what you should have. Eat a light snack such as a piece of fruit before heading to the restaurant.
13. Do brunch.
Brunch is the cheapest weekend meal and you basically get a mix of breakfast and lunch foods so it’ll be delicious, decadent and satisfying.
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