12 ways to save on restaurant meals – Orange County Register

Who doesn’t like to eat out? Let someone else do the cooking and cleaning for you. But dining out can get really pricey, really fast. Here are some suggestions to keep it in line.

1.Eat before you arrive. Maybe you’re meeting friends for dinner, and you’re starving. You know what’s going to happen? You’ll order a bunch of appetizers because everything looks good to you, then, when the entrée arrives, you’ll be full. Right? If you’re not ravenous when you get there, you’ll order more modestly. And, drink a glass of water before you go, too. It dampens hunger.

2. Don’t order the drink. Ask for water instead. Restaurants make a ton of money from beverage service, and they know that you’re not really paying attention to the cost. You can save, on average, $3 per meal in a nice restaurant by drinking water instead. (Note that, in foreign countries, they’re going to bring you bottled water that’s heavily marked up instead of tap water. You can ask for a glass of purified water instead.)

3. Buy discounted gift cards. Check Costco or websites like Cardpool.com and Raise.com.  Costco generally sells its gift cards at a 20 percent off face value, and sometimes you also get other benefits as well. This could make the $60 price tag to join worthwhile. You can also buy and use gift cards other people didn’t want on websites where they’re bought and sold. Sam’s Club also sells discounted cards, but the nice thing about Costco is that it sells cards to local businesses. That means, for example, that if you’re on vacation in Hawaii, you can likely find a discounted gift card to a luau—but only in a Hawaiian Costco.

The original Mimi’s Cafe, on Euclid Street in Anaheim, was granted a distilled spirits license this week. They will begin serving mixed alcoholic drinks for the first time in 32 years later this month.

4. Sign up for the email club. Some chains aggressively send out promotions to get you into their stores, meaning you get constant offers for deals. Mimi’s Café and El Torito come to mind. Seems like I get a 2-for-1 offer from them every week. They’ll also send you freebies just for signing up. Don’t give them too much information, though, they don’t need your phone number living in their databases waiting to get hacked. Personally, I also don’t sign up for text alerts for the same reason–they’re capturing your phone number to use later.

5. Go for happy hour. They  do make me happy. Usually ranging from…

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