12 Ways to Save Hundreds (or Thousands) of Dollars per Year at Restaurants

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Whether you cook at home a lot or not at all, chances are still pretty high that you and your family still spend a lot of money dining out each year. It’s also rather easy to have a restaurant bill with a tab that comes to $100 or more, even just for two people.

24/7 Wall St. has created many self-help pieces for savings and deals over the years. Now we wanted to share some basic actions that can help you save money when you dine out. All in all, there are 12 steps here that can lead to serious savings. Each effort can save you literally hundreds of dollars per year — and this can easily add up to thousands of dollars per year in savings.

There are some basic considerations about who actually spends what when dining out. There are many variables to consider as well. Forbes projected that in 2013 the average American is spending right at $1,000 going out for lunch at restaurants, and that is just for two days a week and just for lunch. Imagine those of us who eat out-of-home five or six lunches a week.

Then ValuePenguin also ran the 2013 average household showing that the total food budget averaged $6,602 per year. Some $2,667 of that large amount was in the “food away from home” category. They even showed that wealthy people spend a lot more than this dining out, so the more you are spending now the more it offers room for saving money.

Zagat confirmed that the spending trends for eating away from home are high. They show that the national average spent for dinner out is $39.40 in the 2015 Dining Trends Survey. That was up at $48.15 in New York City and just $25.81 in Austin. Zagat also showed that the national average is to eat out 4.5 times per week.

Maybe it is nice not to have to cook for just one person. Maybe it is a reward to go have someone else feed you. And maybe you just like to switch up your cuisines so frequent that you just can’t keep up with your own desires in your kitchen. Perhaps you just hate to cook or are not good at cooking.

24/7 Wall St. has brought its readers a new “How to Save Money” series on various aspects of daily expenses and covering personal finance. The aim to help consumers cumulatively save millions of dollars over the course of each year.

If you skeptical, give any one of these efforts a try. Hopefully you will be surprised by how much you really save. And to throw in a twist, there are even ways to save when ordering in from a restaurant delivery or to-go.

Here are 12 ways that diners can save money eating out at restaurants. Again, with thousands of dollars being spent, this can add up to hundreds of dollars (or more) in savings per year, depending on your dining habits.