canada-flag CAD

Affordable Dining: A Guide to Budget-Friendly Restaurant Experiences



Adds up to big savings

Dining out can be a pricey affair, especially with the rising costs associated with restaurant meals. However, if you’re among the many looking to cut costs without sacrificing the joy of eating out, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ve compiled a set of savvy tips and tricks to make saving money on food and restaurant outings a seamless part of your lifestyle.

Tips to save money on food and restaurants

Whether you’re a family of five or a student on a budget, everybody likes to save a little extra cash, but nobody wants to sacrifice the food they love. Use the tips below to help you save money at restaurants while still enjoying some tasty eats.

1. Stop ordering alcoholsaving money on food and drinks

Indulging in a drink or two before dinner may be enjoyable, but it comes with a steep price. A 9 oz glass of wine could cost close to a bottle of similar quality purchased from your local liquor store. With the addition of alcohol, a $30 meal could easily double or triple after only a couple of drinks.

Save yourself from spending the unnecessary cash and have a drink at home before heading out to eat. You’ll be able to drink what you enjoy while saving some money in the process.    

2. Opt for water with a twist

saving on food by drinking water with lemon

Skip expensive drinks altogether and stick to water, perhaps with a splash of lemon. Drinks, especially alcoholic ones, are often marked up significantly at restaurants, making this a simple yet effective way to cut costs without sacrificing your dining experience.

Drinks consistently top the list as being one of the most marked up things to order when eating out, but how marked up are they…

How much are drinks at restaurants?

  • Wine: You’ll be paying on average 400% more for a glass of wine from a restaurant. 
  • Mixed drinks: If you’re not totally convinced yet, then how about the fact that you may be paying 1,150% more for a gin and tonic it than if you were to make that same drink at home.
  • Pop: Restaurants mark up their pop 1,150%. While pop costs about 5 to 20 cents a serving, it can go for up to $3.00 a glass.
  • Bottled water: By far, the largest menu markup is bottled water which is often sold for 2,000% more than it costs the restaurant to acquire it. 

dine out with moola

Skip flavored drinks and have a glass of water with lemon. Avoiding paying for drinks will make saving money on food and restaurants much easier for you. 

3. Happy hour happiness

save on money by going out to happy hour

If you’re inclined to have a drink with dinner, happy hours can be a fantastic solution. Offering discounted drinks and sometimes even food, happy hours allow you to celebrate without breaking the bank. Explore local establishments for enticing deals during these special hours.

What is happy hour?

Happy hours give restaurants the opportunity to bring in customers during a slower time of the day, while giving customers a great deal on drinks. $10 cocktails get cut in half, and you can get a pint of beer for under $5.

Not interested in drinking tonight? Not to worry. Happy hours can come with food specials too. State & Main offers a happy hour everyday from 3 pm – 6 pm and 9 pm – close and has a variety of food and drink specials to boot:

  • $4 eats: Snack on a basket of truffle parmesan chips or order a fish taco for just $4. It’s a perfect way to curb your hunger while indulging in a couple of drinks.
  • Dinner under $12: If you’re looking for something more substantial, State & Main offers a burger, fries, and dip for just $12. At almost $5 less than regular price, it’s a great deal for an affordable dinner.

We’ve rounded up some of the hottest happy hours in Toronto. Check it out to save on drink specials in Toronto and simplify saving money on food and drinks.

4. Find restaurant deals and weekday specials

saving on food by ordering food specials

Save money on food by switching date night from Friday to Tuesday. Some places have different food specials depending on what day of the week it is – and we’re not just talking about Wing Wednesday.

East Side Mario’s offers several midweek specials, all of which are worth heading out after work for:

  • $2 Tuesdays: Grab the kids and head on over to East Side Mario’s this Tuesday for $2 kid’s meals. Choose from a variety of kid friendly food like pizza, pasta, and chicken fingers for a meal everyone is sure to enjoy.
  • All-you-can-eat pasta: For just $12.99 you can have all the pasta, garlic bread, and soup or salad as you can eat. You can even choose a different combination of pasta and sauce each time, so you never get bored.

Midweek deals like these can help keep your stomach full without emptying your wallet. Sometimes eating out makes more sense than eating in.  

5. Coupon savings magic at restaurants

coupon apps to save money

Coupons are the original money saver. To this day, it’s still one of the easiest ways to save money without spending a dime. Keep an eye out in the weekend ads or newspaper for coupons to some of your favorite stores.

If clipping newspaper ads isn’t your thing, you can still benefit from the joy of coupons:

Where to find coupons?

  • Download a coupon app: There’s a number of apps out there designed to do nothing but save you money. You can get access to exclusive coupons to some of your favorite fast casual dining establishments, no spending required.
  • Find coupons online: Sometimes, restaurants will offer coupons exclusively on their website. Go online before you go out and see if there are any special offers online.
  • Buy a coupon book: Annual coupon books are a great way to save a ton of money. You’ll have to pay a bit of money up front, but for 100’s of local coupons valid all year long, it’s totally worth it.

Get creative with your money saving techniques and download some coupons before buying your meal. It’ll lessen the burden of eating out substantially, while saving you money in the process.  

6. Buy a restaurant gift card with Moola

Save money by shopping smarter - use discounted egift cards to stack your savings and s


Imagine getting a $50 gift card for your favorite restaurant at only $40. Moola offers this opportunity by providing discounted eGift cards for various eateries, making it an excellent option for savvy shoppers looking to stack their savings.

With gift cards to places like Cactus Club, The Ultimate Dining Card, and Craft Beer Market, we guarantee that there’s something for everyone can enjoy. 

Find out more about Moola and how to can simplify saving money on food and everyday essentials

7. Loyalty programs pay off

saving money on food by using rewards and loyalty

Loyalty programs are a fantastic way to benefit from frequent spending. They can vary from punch cards to newsletters to email lists and are usually completely free. They’ll often offer special rewards for frequenting the restaurant and signing up for their email list.

Saving on food and restaurants doesn’t have to be hard.

By adopting these practical tips and tricks, you can continue to enjoy great meals without straining your budget. Moola serves as an additional tool to simplify your savings, making the process even more seamless. Embrace smart dining, savor good food with good company, and effortlessly make saving on food and restaurants a part of your lifestyle.

Moola helps make saving money easier too. 

Share this article

Life costs less

Related Posts

Scan QR Code To Download Moola Now!

Download Moola now

Download Moola Now!​

Sign up for the latest deals like


Follow us on Instagram or Facebook and win $150 towards travel, fall clothing, a fun night out with friends or whatever you want.