Monica BuckDining out can get expensive -- especially when you have five mouths to feed. But a family's got to eat! Financial expert Farnoosh Torabi shares her advice for cutting that restaurant check in half.
BYOB: bring your own beverage. Pick up a bottle of wine at a liquor store before heading to dinner and you could save up to 100 percent of the restaurant's price on the bottle. Restaurants often mark up wine by over 100 percent. (Note: Some establishments may charge a "corkage fee," usually around $10-$15, for allowing you to bring in your own vino -- but in most cases, you'll still save.) Find the Perfect Bottle of Wine with these tips from Real Simple.
Order an appetizer. Even if appetizer portions of entrees aren't listed on the menu, restaurants may prepare them for customers. The bonus: These portions are sometimes nearly as large as the entrée plate, but a fraction of the price.
Make your meal last. Get two dinners for one price. When ordering, ask your server to pack half your plate in a doggy bag before serving you the other half. You'll have a meal to eat at home tomorrow -- and you won't be tempted to overeat today. Learn how to Transform Leftovers into Party-Perfect Cuisine.
Pay in cash. Having a drink at the bar before your meal? Bartender friends have confided to Farnoosh that credit card users often overspend by an estimated 20 percent. One reason: Throwing down a dollar in cash as a tip for each cocktail you order tends to add up to less than the average 15 to 20 percent tip on a credit card tab.
Make friends with the bartender. Freebies go to those who are friendly.