Can You Be Frugal When You Eat Out at a Restaurant?

Eating out as a frugal person can sometimes end up looking cheap. And in such cases, cheapness can end up being insulting, especially to the restaurant’s staff. For instance, many people do not tip their servers, thinking that they are being frugal when they are just being cheap and inconsiderate.

This is a concern one member of the “Frugal” subreddit had. They posted saying they were looking for ideas of being frugal while eating out without insulting anyone with their cheapness.

Can You Really Be Frugal Eating Out?

Any time frugal living talk comes up; you can always be sure that eating at home will be one of the tips that would top the list.

So, how does frugality work when you are at a restaurant? The original poster (OP) and their two kids occasionally eat lunch out. They say they love the experience of trying out different cuisines.

However, they wonder how they can keep the eating-out costs low without insulting the business and appearing like a cheapie.

First, they get two adult-sized portions and split them among themselves. They also do not get any drinks other than water and no appetizers too.

Now, this considerably lowers the price of their eating out, and any frugal person would be happy.

However, OP worries that tipping only 20% of the low-cost bill they end up with can be insulting.

Is there a way of handling this appropriately? Is it cheap to share a plate with your kid?

Nobody Really Cares if You Share Meals With Your Kids

From the top commenter, nobody cares if someone gets two adult-sized portions and shares them with their kids. They said, “Former fast food and restaurant employee here. I never cared. It’s your money. It would be one thing if you tried cheating the system (filling your bag with fistfuls of every condiment packet, napkins, plastic cutlery) or did things that were against a policy that would get me in trouble (certain coffee shops I worked at had rules against splitting one drink into multiple cups). Still, as long as you’re not ransacking the store, no one thinks about it. If you’re at nicer diners or restaurants and treat the staff kindly, they also don’t care. It’s none of our business to care. If I saw a person order two meals for themselves and their kids, I’d think, “, Oh, that’s smart; kids never finish their plate anyways.”

Annoyingly “Cheap” Hacks From a Former Waitress

One commenter who worked as a waitress jumped into the thread, highlighting hacks that they consider cheap. They started by saying, “Are you asking for extra lemon & sugar with your water to make “lemonade?” Are you using “clever” but obvious ways to save? When I was working in restaurants, it was the frugal “tricks” and “hacks” that drove me nuts. They’re not clever; they’re just cheap .”

They added that nothing screamed “cheap” than not tipping your waitress. They said, “If any of these “clever” frugal folks had tipped, I wouldn’t remember them 20 years later. So a good rule of thumb is if you tip appropriately, be kind, and don’t make them do more work so you can save yourself a few pennies, no one will be cursing you as you leave or refusing to serve you if you are a repeat customer.”

Still, another added on tipping, “I waited tables for years and worked in the kitchen, too; being frugal was never an issue. The issues are being cheap and trying to get stuff for free or, even worse, running a high bill and not tipping to “save money.””

Get Takeaway

One commenter had a lovely suggestion for OP. They said, “Do it as takeout and have a picnic! Still a nice experience, no judgment.”

What frugal hacks can you use at a restaurant without insulting the business and the staff?


This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.

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