How to Save Money » Frugal Living

5 ways to enjoy eating out without spending a lot on food

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 fares 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 just 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.


  1. Money Beagle

    Or if you do go out, look at sharing a dinner and/or looking for coupons in the paper or online.

  2. Malcolm

    Good tips, i also like inviting friends to come over to have shared supper at the restaurant, that way we share the spending. hehe, i know its sounds old school but it works every time.

  3. Glenn Cooke

    The expensive part of many dinners is the alcohol and dessert. We won’t skip dessert 🙂 but not having alcohol at a restaurant can take 30-50% off your bill.

    And as the doggie blogger there noted :), my wife and daughter will sometimes split a meal as they’re both light eaters. Split a large salad and an entree, and they’re still full.

  4. Theresa

    One of the ideal way is to check the travelogue of the respective city that you plan to visit for dinner. These travelogues does detail the menu and prices to choose from and this helps to budget your food and beverage for you and your loved ones. You can find the reviews and ratings of these restaurants and food joints before you make a schedule.

  5. Amber Arch

    We have another way!! We often have retaurants, especially some of the larger chains asking us to Mystery Shop their eateries. Our representatives tend to get the meal paid for, so they in effect get a full meal for free and afterwards get to give constructive feedback to the company.

  6. Rick

    One advise –
    Always keep your drinking separate from food.
    Never order drinks at the restaurant you eat. Bars-dives specialize in that. What mbna or capita one can offer on cc deals, banks can’t match it.

  7. Jenifer Lamug (Jing-jing)

    When dining out, always bring your fruit and drinks with you preferably water. Don’t order much of the wine and dessert. You are safe in your pocket and health.

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