12 Ways to Frugally Eat Out Without Looking Like a Cheapskate

A Reddit user wanted to seek tips on taking his family eating out frugally without appearing like a cheapskate. Although they eat out occasionally, he wants to keep the cost minimum. They buy two adult-sized portions and split them among themselves. He tips a standard 20% but feels awkward getting just two kids’ meals and splitting into three portions. He sought advice from other users on the platform, and we have sampled some of the best responses here.

As Long as You Are Polite You Can Order Whatever You Want

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One user points out that politeness is what matters in a restaurant, “TBH, the cheap people I feel a little judgy about in restaurants are the ones who are always trying to get comped or to get others at their table to pay for their stuff. Assuming you’re polite to the people who work there, there’s nothing wrong with ordering something inexpensive.”

As Long as You Are Not Committing Fraud You Are Okay

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Another user shared a real-life experience urging the OP not to worry as long as they are not committing fraud, “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 the policy that would get me in trouble (certain coffee shops I worked at had rules against splitting one drink into multiple cups), but as long as you’re not ransacking the store, then no one is thinking 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 anything, 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.”

Try Adventurous Dining

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“The nice thing about “adventurous dining” is that it makes perfect sense to order a variety of small plates – usually appetizers – and share them. Just don’t cheap out on the tip, and no one will be insulted,” advised another user.

The Restaurant Always Makes a Profit

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Another user told the OP that restaurants make a profit irrespective of what one buys, “As long as you pay for what you order, nobody cares what you get. The restaurant makes a profit no matter what you buy.”

Go to Places Where Food Is Shared

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A user urged the OP to visit restaurants where meals are shared, “I like going to the restaurants where food is meant to be shared. This is very common with East or South Asian cuisine, many African cuisines, and others. Look for menus where each dish is just one food item rather than a complete meal with sides and everything. You’re meant to order a few different dishes and share all of them amongst everyone at the table.”

Do Not Linger Too Much at the Table

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A former server advised the OP not to stay too long at the table, “As a former server, I would also say try not to linger at the table for an inordinate amount of time. I never had a problem with people who didn’t spend much and still tipped 20%, but the people who hung around for 3 hours not ordering anything besides more water and preventing me from getting another table so I could make more $ would drive me nuts.”

One Should Have the Freedom To Eat as They Please

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“I really don’t care what restaurants think of my order. I eat very little, especially in public, due to health stuff, so I am generally more concerned about wasting food than the cost of it. If they want to judge me for not buying expensive dishes, then they lack the ability to understand others and shouldn’t be working a public sector job,” added another user.

No Requirement That Every Seat Has to Order a Minimum

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Someone pointed out that restaurants have no minimum order, “There is no requirement (outside of some ultra fancy restaurants) that each “seat” order a minimum. So long as you are not trying to manipulate the menu, order what you want with confidence and impunity!”

If They Are Not Paying Bills They Should Not Judge

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“They aren’t paying your bills, so they have no right to judge or form opinions on what you do with your money,” another user pointed out.

Order What You Want and Tip Well

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One user said that the OP should order whatever they want correctly, “Order what you want. Tip well. You are good. The only time you MIGHT be causing the server to lose money would be during peak hours when the restaurant has a wait. That said, there is always a chance that one of those tables spending more is going to run the hell out of the server and leave little to no tip.”

Tell the Servers Ahead of Time

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“Tell people ahead of time. “Hey, I’m low on my budget and just trying to eat; what’s the best value I can get to feed my kids?” You don’t have to beg or plead; it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to get some junk food,” said another user.

It Is Normal to Order Whatever You Want

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Someone else does not see any issue with the OP ordering little food, “This sounds totally normal, not cheap. I grew up in a family that had plenty of money. Most of us get water, usually don’t get appetizers (who can eat an appetizer and a meal?), and occasionally split a meal if we take the time to coordinate. We always tip nicely at 15-20 percent unless we stay long at the table. If we stay longer, we tip extra, of course. We are polite and friendly to servers. Nothing to be embarrassed about. You are acting normal for a restaurant.”


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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.