Little Known Ways To Save Money When Eating Out

Updated: April 22, 2023

Being young urban professionals, we often try to keep an image of success to other people, especially to our colleagues and friends. As a result, we sometimes pressure ourselves to show that we are earning a good income and could afford luxuries often associated with people working in the corporate world.

The truth is, although you and your peers usually have the same range of salaries, your personal expenses might not be the same. And because of this, it would sometimes become a burden to keep up with the expensive lifestyle of colleagues and friends who have fewer financial responsibilities.

One example of such social pressure is eating out. I remember when I was still an employee, I would often go out for lunch with my officemates.

It would be an instant buffet treat if our boss was with us but most of the time, it would only be just me and my workmates. As much as I wanted to decline their invitations, I’m also aware that these situations are opportunities to foster camaraderie among your peers.

Thus the dilemma: Do I choose to be frugal and “stay in” or choose to strengthen my social relationships and eat out with them?

Fortunately, in the years I’ve spent in the corporate world, I’ve managed to find little ways on how to compromise both choices. I’ve compiled a list of effective techniques to lessen my food expenses when eating out and I’d like to share some of them. I hope that you will find them helpful.

Avoid eating out.

This is actually common sense. On a personal level, it simply requires self-discipline. But on a social level, declining an invitation from a peer can be difficult.

So how do you excuse yourself from eating out with your officemates? Here are a couple of reasons you can say:

  • “I woke up early and decided to pack myself lunch.” (Just be sure you really have one.)
  • “I want to catch some sleep during lunch break.” (Helps increase afternoon productivity too.)

What about invites from your friends? Here’s what you can say:

  • “I already ate but I’d like to come.” (Eat at home then join your friends, wise huh?)
  • “I’d like to spend time with you guys but I’m not in the mood to go out. Why don’t we just meet and stay in someone’s place?” (If it’s not too much hassle, offer yours and host the potluck house party.)

Moreover, you can try this in both cases:

  • “I’m trying to watch my budget and lessen my expenses, maybe next time.” (Yes, honesty works too.)

Know your terrain.

Fortunately, there are many good places to eat nowadays that are not so expensive. Be always on the lookout for these frugal chows.

If a new place catches your interest, go ahead and take a peek at their menu prices even if you’re not planning to eat. You could just tell them that you’re scouting for a place where you could bring your friends one of these days.

When you’re equipped with this knowledge, you can now use them in battle. When plans are being made to eat out, you can now say these:

  • “Where are we eating?” (Always ask when invited so you’d know if you can afford to join.)
  • “Hey, I know this great place…” (Just make sure that it’s really a great place.)

“I’m on a diet” is already a cliché.

Don’t make this excuse to explain why you’ve ordered so little. It’s not believable and quite overused.

When faced with an expensive menu, go for the vegetables which are usually the cheapest items but nevertheless filling to the stomach. When teased about your order, you can use these lines:

  • “I need the fiber because I’ve been eating a lot of meat for the past days.” (Good excuse, right?)
  • “I’m going to a party tonight. Just reserving some space for the food later.” (Assuming it’s lunch.)
  • “I find it hard to sleep on a full stomach.” (Assuming it’s dinner.)

Practice good eating habits by chewing your food thoroughly and eating slowly and you’ll feel full even with a small meal.

Also if possible, stick to just drinking water. But if you feel left out because everyone’s ordering bottomless iced teas, then order a single-serve drink. Your excuse? Say:

  • “I don’t like to feel bloated later.” (Not to mention the hassle of frequent trips to the bathroom.)

Everyone’s having dessert? See if you can share an order with someone or simply have tea or coffee, which is usually cheaper. Practice these lines:

  • “Let’s share, I don’t think I can finish a whole slice of cake.” (Works well when used to the weight-conscious in the group.)
  • “I’ll just have tea / coffee. I don’t have my sweet tooth right now.” (Your dentist will be glad as well.)

Exercise your math skills.

Before ordering, be sure that the group is clear if it’s going Dutch (in Filipino, KKB or Kanya-Kanyang Bayad), sharing the whole bill or a little of both.

This will help you effectively know your expense limitations. When someone wants to order something expensive for the group, there’s no harm in persuading the person to reconsider by saying:

  • “Can we order something else, I don’t feel like eating that.” (Then suggest a good but cheaper alternative.)

Furthermore, when billing out and it’s a Dutch treat, offer to be the one to collect the money. Get the order slip and compute for each one’s expense.

Be sure to account for the taxes, service charge, and an allowance for the tip. The reason why you’re doing this is that some people tend to give a little more than what they’re due. In the end, the excess becomes your gain.

Remember to be honest with your computation and ask if they’re sure that they don’t want their change any more.

And that’s it! Did you enjoy this post? Then please share it with your friends because they’ll be glad that you did.

What to do next: Click here to start your financial journey with IMG Wealth Academy


  1. Yes Tony, I agree. We can always find opportunities to earn if we just open our eyes. Thanks for sharing that site.

  2. Fitz! great one, but you see i think it also comes with the territory or may i say, geography???

    Of course I am talking about culture thing because when I was still in Makati, eating out usually meant someone is going to pay for it. Now, since I have been out of the country for many years, I don’t know if this is still the case.

    Here in the US, at least when you eat out, it’s easy because you all share the bill.

  3. Yes reynz, things could be different depending on the social culture you live in. Here in the Philippines, eating out has become a favorite activity among yuppies. I believe it has become a part of the office culture.

  4. I enjoyed this article. It’s comprehensive. It seems that you’ve really given it much thought.

  5. hahaha, avoid eating out… really this one is effective way of saving little money, eating at home really saves more.

  6. That’s correct Juler, but on the other hand, there are places to eat out there which are really cheap specially when you’re dining as a group. Thus, potentially saving you time and energy in exchange for a little more expense.

  7. Just like to add some things I do:

    1. Ask if there are promos/discounts for cards (credit card, membership cards, etc.) It could save you 5-20% of your total bill

    2. Be aware of the promos of your favorite or regular restaurants so you could take advantage of it.

  8. hi sir! thank you for putting up this website. It’s informative and very useful. I haven’t read much of your articles but it seems it’s worth reading. Any way, I wrote here to ask if you could recommend any business that me and my partner could venture in even if we’re both working? Something that we could do at the comforts of our home, but still earn additional income. FYI: We don’t have much savings yet.

  9. Hi sir! your articles are great. I just found your website when i was looking for sites involving MF’s and UITF’s. Your website was a superb help. Please continue doing it. You rock sir.

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