By Britt Bickel

Everyone loves grabbing dinner or drinks out in a restaurant from time to time, but these days many are getting an unpleasant surprise when the check comes around. After all is said and done, dinner and drinks for two, plus the tip can end up costing an arm and a leg, but it doesn’t always have to.

We came across these great tips on how to avoid making big money mistakes when dining out on so you can lower that food bill without sacrificing your dining experience.

Making reservations over the phone

Instead of making reservations over the phone, use an online service like Savored or Open Table to find availability at a restaurant. These services also reward you with a discount on the bill if you reserve through them so your meal will cost less!

Walking in hungry

They  say never to grocery shop while hungry and the same goes for dining out. Restaurant consultant Aaron Allen says a common mistake is over-ordering when you come to a restaurant famished. To avoid over-eating and over-paying, Allen suggests eating a small snack before you leave or splitting an appetizer to save on your wallet and appetite.

“Hoodwinked” by a smiley face

According to Allen, customers tend to tip more for service when the gratuity is suggested on the bill, but he suggests to tip based on the service itself, not the suggestions. Studies have also shown that customers are likely to tip 18 percent more when the server draws a smiley face on the check.

Drinking the house wine

Beware ordering the house wine at a restaurant, according to Allen, these wines are usually the worst value on the menu and the mark-up on the bottles are often high because restaurants know they’re an easy sell. Instead, he suggests to consider the imported wine selection like Chilean varieties or Malbecs since they’ve become more reasonable in price.

Ordering the wrong Vodka

When ordering a mixed drink, often times your server will ask which brand of Vodka or spirit you want in your drink. To lower you drink bill, go for the whatever is in the “well” instead of a premium spirit, which mixes fine with a tonic or juice, but costs about two-thirds less.

Do you have any other money-saving tips when dining out? Share them in the comments below!


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