How To SAVE While Eating Out!!

While my family certainly enjoys eating out, Mom doesn’t always enjoy how much it costs. With a family of 5, eating out can take a big hit on our monthly budget. BUT, I’ve come up with some ways to save, that still allows us to enjoy those nights out as a family.

My Tips On How To Save While Eating Out:

1. Drink Water!   This is our number one rule when eating out – everyone drinks water!  Water is usually free, and drinks can easily add $10 – $15 to our total before we even order our food.

2. No Appetizers!  Appetizers can also add $5 – $10 to your total. Your meal will arrive soon enough.

3. Kids Eat FREE!   Oh, how I love the words, “Kids Eat FREE!” Some restaurants offer free or discounted kid’s meals on certain nights of the week. Find out what your favorite restaurant offers, and schedule your night out accordingly.  (Does your restaurant offer free or discount kids’ meals? Scroll down and fill out the form to add it my list.)

4. Weekday Lunch VS Weekend Dinner!   While this is not always a possible solution, lots of restaurants offer a special discounted weekday lunch menu.

5. $1 Menu!   While, all the tips before now were mostly useful in a sit down restaurant, we also have rules for eating fast food. If we are on the go, and we have to grab a quick bite to eat, everyone orders off the $1 menu. You won’t find us driving away with any Happy or Kids Meals. Everyone gets the cheapest burger and we share a few large fries.

6. Coupons!   Yes, there are restaurants that offer coupons or specials. You can usually find this information on the restaurant’s website. If they have an email club, be sure to sign up! You’ll probably get a heads up on any specials or coupons that are available. Some restaurants are even offering discounts when signing up for their texts.

7.!  If used correctly, this one can really be a money saver. When runs specials like this: $4 for $25 Restaurant Gift Certificates from 6/26-6/29 with code FUN, you can get $25 to spend at a restaurant for the discounted price, BUT it’s important to know the terms of your gift certificate. Most $25 gift certificates require that you spend $35 or more to get the $25 discount. They usually always add the gratuity to the bill as well, so be aware of this as to not double tip. Sometimes drinks are included…sometimes they are not.

While we have been known to break our own rules on special occasions, these are typically the guidelines we follow to help us save money when eating out as a family! I hope they help you and your family enjoy those nights out without breaking the bank!

Do you have any other tips, not listed here? Leave me a comment!



HELP Build “Mommy’s Kids Eat FREE List”!!
Do you have a favorite restaurant that
offers FREE or Discounted Kid’s Meals?
Fill out the form below to add them to
Mommy’s List!  I will, then compile these
into an easy reference post.






  1. I eat at locally owned restaurants that have a “VIP” membership. I get a certain percentage off of my bill (10 – 15%) every time, plus unadvertised specials (free appetizers) just for being a member. I am also able to accumulate points that I can cash in for restaurant gift cards. Plus, all of the money I spend stays in my community. Shop and eat local!!

  2. natasha brodsky says:

    If I know I will eat a place often, I get a loyalty card. A lot of the locally owned restaurants have them. We eat there so many times and we can get a free meal OR some do a card you can buy for like $10 and save 20% each time you come in. WELL worth it. Also, we try to share as often as possible and/or get kids meals that include dessert so the kids get super happy to have a special treat without paying extra! :D

  3. Barbara Compton Kesterson says:

    We do water, the cost of a soft drink or tea is normally 2 to 3 dollars around here. And I always have a coupon, it embarrasses the kids but saves me money. We also do the dollar menu and not the meal deal when we hit a fast food place. We rarely go out to eat but when we don’t expect to spend alot because I don’t allow alot for it in our budget.

  4. Lisa Cory says:

    If the adult potion is large, share with your child.

  5. Aiesheh says:

    My favorite tip to save money while eating out is to do your research beforehand! Look online for any special offers from the restaurant’s website, also check their facebook and sign up for their email newsletter for any exclusive printable offers to rack up the savings!

  6. Jennifer Groce says:

    We often go to places that have 2/$25 deals where we get an appetizer and our meals. Best way to save is cook at home =-) lol Oh there are also some restaurants around here that offer free meals for you birthday.

  7. amy marantino says:

    i make some fresh air-popped popcorn (no butter) and everyone munches a little in the car on the way to the restaurant. it takes the edge off everyone’s appetite, and they order and eat less.

  8. MaggieBlu says:

    We always choose places that have kids meals and usually we have coupons for. I’m a water drinker….or if it’s a fast food place that charges for water I order a small drink as you can free refill as much as you want! Sometimes appitizers are pretty reasonable so we will get a couple of them as dinner. There always is plenty for a meal!

  9. 2 dine for whatever price is normally the best deal for me and my guy. We don’t eat out very often its because they are either running a special or we have coupons.

  10. Heather R says:

    I have two kids and most kids meals at restaurants are large enough to the kids to share.

  11. For our family eating out is a treat we don’t often indulge in. $4 for a bowl of macaroni my toddler isn’t going to eat? Forget it!

    My best tip is to become regulars somewhere. We’ve been eating at the same local Chinese/Korean restaurant since before our kids were born and the staff there have watched our kids grow. They cater to our family and often give us extras that they’d charge others for. I also like that we can get sharable family style meals without breaking the bank.

    Another great way to save is to be a Fan on Facebook. My favorite local datenight spot offers a 10% discount if you ‘check in’ on your phone while dining. Plus they post pics of their newest menu items and share their specials. I know several other restaurants do similar things so it’s definitely worth checking into.

  12. Martha E says:

    It’s harder now that my girls are teenagers, but when they were little sharing was the answer for getting by cheaper. An adult meal would feed the both of them and cost less than 2 kids meals. Now they are both very cost aware and I can usually depend on them to pick the cheapest thing on menu or we eat out for “2 meals”. we take half home for another meal later.

  13. mildred m says:

    Some restaurants offer 1/2 portions, rather than order the full portion and either overeat or take it home just to throw it out later, ask if the entree comes in a 1/2 portion.

  14. Melinda Dartmann says:

    I usually eat out for the lunch menu, it’s cheaper and usually kids eat free. Plus if I use their coupons, I can buy one entree and get one free. So for 4 meals and 4 drinks, I pay for one meal and two drinks total.

  15. Crystle Monahan says:

    When we eat out (which is generally only on birthdays, we have 7 family members so I understand what you mean when you say it’s not cheap to eat out!) we go to the Longhorn Steakhouse, and they have this AWESOME bread that is free for diners. We fill up on it and whatever we don’t eat (including any bread that has been brought to our table but hasn’t been finished) we bring home in a doggie bag/box… thing. Plus, we bring membership coupons we get from their newsletter! The Longhorn has good prices (well, for a restaurant. It’s still cheaper to eat at home) especially since the food they serve is pretty big.

  16. Seyma Shabbir says:

    We always support the school fundraiser by buying the entertainment or coupon book. It has lots of buy one get one free meals. They are worth it!

  17. Another good way to save is to buy a gift card to the restaurant on ebay. You may save a dollar or two or you could save even more!

  18. Jenna Anderson Smith says:

    We have signed the kids up for several kids clubs at restaurants. They usually send cards for free kids meals or desserts.

  19. we go places that serve family size meals

  20. jenna tomaszewski says:

    split a meal with a friend/significant other

  21. Joanne Gentry says:

    My kids are grown now but when they were small they shared. Meals. As they got older, we: used coupons and ate at the buffets on discounted days. We didn’t eat out often but when we did it was a real treat. And it taught them to use coupons :-)

  22. jeanette martin says:

    I sign up for birthday bonuses!!

  23. If I know that the serving is something I cannot finish all by myself, I share with my son.

  24. Kasee Johnson says:

    Whenever we’re in the drive-thru or getting our food to go, I order a kids’ meal for myself. It’s plenty of food and saves $$. Since my oldest “kid” has been eating adult combo meals for years, I don’t even feel bad about cheating. And it gives us an extra toy that I stash at home for whenever I’m babysitting little ones and need something special.

  25. Candice says:

    A lot of radio and tv stations locally offer half off deals, where we can buy a gift certificate for $50, for only $25. We try to take advantage of these deals, and use them on days we know there are specials also.

  26. I dont have a tip, but I LOVE places that offer kids eat free .helps with 2 little ones

  27. Lorna Patrick says:

    I try to buy a groupon for somewhere we have been wanting to eat, and also eat off the lunch menu at dinner time. We don’t go out to eat often though because it is so expensive.

  28. Hannah Shaffer says:

    Usually we just try to find coupons online or anywhere we can.. We also try to get the most food for the money that we are spending

  29. Fiona N says:

    I usually order adult size meals and then share them with my nieces

  30. Jill Jacoby says:

    We get a local deals flyer every month with coupons and specials for local restaurants and any entertainment they will be having. I don’t have any children at home now so I don’t pay attention to the kids deals.

  31. Megan Ross says:

    I always share with my Daughter. I usually always have left overs, and she never finishes what she has. I will bring her own cup with a drink it. I would have to transfer whatever we got there for her, plus I like to know what kind of juice she is drinking. I also always use coupons, I get on rewards programs if they have them.

  32. kristina s says:

    check out your ‘junk mail’ most of the time you can get coupons. as well if your city has a farmers market some places give kids eat free cards for supporting different bussinesses

  33. Christy Grimsbo says:

    We drink water, and I order something my 2 year old will eat too b/c he just eats off my plate. No sense in ordering a $5 meal for him when he doesn’t eat much at all!!

  34. Carol W says:

    We drink water and try to go when the prizes are cheaper or if we have coupons and I love to eat at places where kids eat free. The sagebrush Close by has certain days were if u order between 4:00pm and 6:00pm kids eat free and sometimemes they have 2 for $20 deal so we try to eat there when possible.

  35. Elizabeth Roby says:

    I only drink water anyway, but I go out when places have a good value for what you get. Like All you can eat shrimp or the 3 course meal for $12.99.

  36. karli webb says:

    We go to Western Sizzlin because kids 5 and under eat off the buffet for free and Steven drinks water so his is absolutely free and he LOVES salad and veggies

  37. Barbara Powell says:

    We drink water with our meals and don’t get appitzers or desserts. An when possible I usually order a kids size meal cause that all I usually eat anyway.

  38. We all drink water when we go out and order something we all agree on so we can share. My husband and I don’t have big appetites and my 2 year old doesn’t eat very much when we go out so we can all 3 eat for under $15

  39. Mia Dentice Carey says:

    I shve when eating out by sharing my meal with my 5 year old son & drinking water.

  40. AlannaB says:

    My kids are 2 and 3, so generally they eat off of my husband and I’s plate. We also order water. Of course, my kids also love CiCi’s were it is $5 buffet and kids 3 and under eat free. So it’s $10 for all of us to eat!

  41. beth kelsay says:

    We know what we are getting to eat BEFORE we get inside and we only eat where they have a special and we have coupons. IF and that’s a big if, we get drinks we get a large say sprite with no ice 2 or3 glasses of just ice and that is plenty of pop for 4 people.

  42. Eat early, lots of places have early bird specials between 4 and 6. If we are in by 6 it saves a bunch and still gets us out of the restaurant before it is too late and the kids are getting cranky!

  43. Drink water and use coupons.


  1. [...] also shared tons of money saving ideas while eating out. You can check out my post on Saving While Eating Out here, and be sure to check out the comments with reader tips as well! If you haven’t already, be [...]

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