Eating Out Doesn’t Have to Break the Budget

Grocery Receipts  – Always look at your grocery receipts for restaurant (and other) coupons!

Order for one and split it – Most restaurants will split the order for you, so just ask; otherwise ask for an extra plate and split it yourself. If you’re especially hungry and they offer two sizes of meals, order the large and split it. Texas restaurants most often serve larger portions than you can eat in one sitting. Of course, if you’re eating alone, just plan to take the leftovers home for another meal. We recently went to Vernon’s Kuntry Katfish, ordered the large catfish plate to split, and I had two more lunches out of the leftovers.

Take advantage of the “2 for $20”deals. Chili’s offers an appetizer plus 2 entrees for $20, and the selections are pretty good. Drinks not included. If you’re down in The Woodlands or Spring more 2 for $20 offers can be found at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, T.G.I. Friday’s, and Golden Corral.

Drink water. You go to a restaurant for the good food, not the drinks. You can get those much cheaper at home or a grocery store. Drink water, perhaps adding a slice of lemon for taste.

Just order side items. A salad and an appetizer can often make for a delicious and affordable meal for one.

Choose an affordable restaurant. There are medium-priced restaurants around that can offer decent meals for a decent price. While there are many ways to save on eating out, one of the best is to start with a restaurant that doesn’t charge exorbitant prices. When in doubt, call the restaurant in advance and ask for the price range for meals.

New restaurants. Often a restaurant that has just opened for business will want to attract new customers with discounts and specials. Watch for ads in newspapers and local magazines (DockLine and Link magazines often have buy-one-get-one-free ads for restaurants) or other advertising mailings.

Fast food. Often the cheapest options are food restaurants, and you can find reasonably healthy options at some of them. Whataburger, Chick-Fil-A, Subway and Wendy’s, and others have a variety of salads.

Skip dessert. If you’re eating at a sit-down restaurant, dessert is usually very expensive. Pick up a carton of ice cream on the way home instead – then you’ll have plenty for several desserts.

Kids Eat Free! If you have young children, take advantage of the restaurants that offer “kids eat free” deals. Most restaurants have a maximum age limit of 10 or 12 for the free meals, and they provide one kid’s meal per one adult meal purchased. Be sure to ask before you order! Of course, most of the free kid’s meals are from a Kid’s Menu.  CAUTION: Usually, there are specific days when you can get free kid’s meals, so don’t assume it’s an everyday thing! And, always ask before you order just in case they have changed their offer!

  • Denny’s on Tuesdays & Saturdays, 4 – 10 p.m.
  • Mama Juanita’s Sunday Specials Kids: 10 & under eat free with adult meal purchase
  • Applebee’s Wednesday Specials: Kids eat for free all day, limited to four kids per adult
  • Buffalo Wild Wings’ Wednesday Specials: Kids eat free w/purchase of adult meal all day 12 and under
  • Dickey’s BBQ Sunday Specials: Kids Eat Free with purchase of adult entree. All Day
  • Boardwalk Tuesday & Thursday Specials: 1 free kids meal per adult entree purchase
  • James Coney Island From 4 to close, Wednesday nights, 1 free kids meal per adult meal

Also, ask about the “Kids” deals at these restaurants:

  • Rico’s Authentic Mexican Food
  • Luby’s Cafeteria
  • Margarita & Peppers Mexican Grill & Bar
  • Incredible Pizza Company
  • Wings N More

And, if you are a Senior Citizen, always ask for the Senior Discount! Some restaurants offer discounts for those as young as 55!

  • Ryan’s in Conroe offers Seniors lunch with a drink for a great price, and it’s all you can eat. If you really want to get the best deal, go in right before the lunch prices end at 3 p.m. That way you can have a nice all-you-can-eat dinner, including drink and dessert. No leftovers permitted, but it’s a real bargain nonetheless.
  • Most restaurants offer special Senior Citizen menus and prices