Dining Out in College: 4 Tips to Save You Money When Eating at a Restaurant

I love food from the dining hall as much as the next kid with a meal plan, but let’s face it: the food has a tendency to get really boring.

The good news? There are probably off-campus restaurants where you can eat once you tire of pizza and fries night after night.

The bad news? Eating out can get pretty expensive.

We’ve showed you how to save money on groceries, but what about when you’re getting take-out or sitting down at a restaurant?

Thankfully, I learned a long time ago that eating out is manageable for both my wallet and me with these 4 tips:

Dollar sign

Tip #1. Drink water

Water is free and free is good. Therefore, under the transitive property, water is good.

Don’t spend money for soda/alcohol when you can get a much healthier alternative for literally no money at all.

If you are in dire need of something stronger than soda, order a glass of it and then drink water for the rest of the meal.

Tip #2. Split the meal

Get a friend to split an entrée with you; chances are, it’ll be big enough for both of you guys, anyway. Be sure to inquire whether the restaurant has a split-platter charge for meals.

Even if they do, it’s guaranteed to be much less than the cost of another entrée, so bring a friend who has similar tastes in food.

Tip #3. Clip coupons

For all the ‘Extreme Couponers’ out there, this one’s for you. Look around in newspapers (especially your student publication) for deals, coupons or anything that looks like it could save you some green.

Chances are, if a restaurant near a college wants to attract young, hungry, broke customers, the owners are likely to put a few deals out for people to find. Remember to check the expiration date and don’t forget to actually bring the coupon or clipping with you.

Tip #4. Kids meals!

If you’re not eating somewhere too fancy and/or have little to no shame like me, order something off the kid’s menu.

It’s cheaper, served in a healthier portion, and will sometimes come with a free dessert or something of the like. Plus, you might get crayons and a colorable menu.

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