How to save money when dining out

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Kendal Perez from HassleFreeSavings.com tells us how.

Dining out doesn’t have to eat into your budget, however. Consider the following easy ways to save on restaurant fare, and toast to a fun and frugal night out.

1. Daily Deals
Up-and-coming restaurants often partner with daily deals sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to attract patrons. Ultimately, daily deals are a great way to try the latest in trendy and traditional dining. I discovered my new favorite restaurant with a Groupon and paid less than $20 for two drinks, two appetizers and two entrees. Be sure to tip your server based on the full price of the meal, however, as advised by this article from Business Insider. 

2. Discount Gift Cards
Discount gift cards are an easy way to reduce your restaurant bill by up to 20 percent. Whether your taste buds are in the mood for Claim Jumper’s or The Cheesecake Factory, shop at a gift card exchange like Gift Card Granny for the best savings. Just be sure to order the card in time for your next night out.

3. Family Style
The portion sizes at most restaurants are enormous, easily feeding two people and sometimes three. Forego individual orders and decide as a table which dishes sound the most delectable. You’ll likely save two entrees worth of cash. Confirm everyone is on board with splitting the cost and be sure to inform your server beforehand.

4. Happy Hour
Happy-hour specials abound during the warm summer months, so take advantage of drink and appetizer discounts by meeting up with the crew during the allotted time. You’ll likely fill up on affordable finger foods and won’t need to spend the extra money on a full entree.

5. Weekly Specials
Beyond the holidays, some restaurants offer monthly specials that represent significant savings and a fun night out. For example, I attended a wine tasting at The Melting Pot and paid $26 to hear the history of six wines I sampled, along with a delightful three-course fondue meal. Plus, I scored a $10-off coupon by correctly pronouncing the Croatian grape contained in Zinfandel.

6. Checking In
“Checking in” via Foursquare often yields discounts and special offers from restaurants who partner with the popular app to attract patrons. If you’re not comfortable telling the world where you are at all times, you can turn off the broadcast function and still take advantage of savings. American Express cardholders enjoy exclusive savings from Foursquare, so keep that in mind if you’re an AmEx user.

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