It can be fun to go out to eat, but it also gets expensive. The good news is that you can enjoy eating out, and you don't need to spend a lot of money on food. With a little creativity, you can go out to eat, and avoid breaking the bank.

1. Take a Free Food Tour or Attend a Tasting

One of the best ways to eat out on the cheap is to take a free food tour, or attend a tasting. Many cities have some sort of food tour, where you can sample some of the local fare for free, or at least for a very low cost. There are also tastings at wineries and breweries, as well as at many artisan restaurants and shops. Not only can this be a fun way to get out of the house for food, but it can also introduce you to new foods and restaurants.

2. Go For a Picnic

Eating out doesn't always have to mean going somewhere and having someone else cook you a meal. Sometimes it's just nice to get out of the house and do something out of the ordinary. A picnic can be jus the thing. Put together a picnic, including your favorite foods, then head to the local park. You'll save money, get outside, and enjoy a little quality time with someone else, whether it's your significant other or your children.

3. Hold a Progressive Dinner with Your Friends

A really fun and frugal option is to hold a progressive dinner with your friends. Everyone provides a different course, and you eat at someone else's house for each course. You get out of the house, enjoy some quality time with friends, and try something different.
Even if you don't go all out with the progressive dinner, you can hold regular pot luck dinners with your friends. Rotate the house you hold it at, and everyone brings something. It costs less money for each participant, and you still get to eat outside the house and spend time with friends.

4. Attend the Local Farmer's Market

You can often find free samples at the local farmer's market. Even if you don't get free samples, there are often low-cost food options. Buy a few items and eat nearby. Eating at the farmer's market can be a lot of fun, and you might even see something different. Many markets feature cooking demonstrations, so you can learn how to make new recipes, as well as enjoy a tasty and inexpensive meal.

5. Go to the Restaurant, But Skip Dinner

It's the dinner that's expensive at the restaurant. Instead of eating dinner, meet up later for appetizers or dessert. Or, you could share a plate with someone else. In many cases, ordering a full dinner is unnecessary. Eat an appetizer instead, and you won't spend nearly as much. You can also go for Happy Hour specials and save money on food and drink. Plan your outing so that you don't feel hungry enough to order a whole dinner, and you can save money, even at a restaurant.

About Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of the award-winning MapleMoney. With a career as a Financial Analyst and over eight years writing about personal finance, Tom has the knowledge to help you get control of your money and make it work for you.