How To Afford Eating Out As A Broke College Student

As a college student, you don't have a lot of money to spare -- but once in a while, it's nice to take a break from spaghetti and grilled cheese and enjoy a meal out. Here are some strategies for making eating out more affordable, so you don't have to choose between paying your tuition and a good meal.

Always look online for freebies and discounts before you go out.

A lot of chain restaurants offer special coupons to customers who sign up for their email newsletters. This coupon may offer you a free appetizer with the purchase of a meal, or it may give you a certain percentage off your bill. Some restaurants even post regular coupons on their websites for anyone to print out and use. Always search for these deals before you go out, and base your decision of where to eat on them. If you find Chilis freebies and discounts, for example, make that the place you dine that evening.

Use discounts and coupons to your advantage.

Don't look at them as a way to "get extra." For instance, if between you and a friend, you have a coupon that offers you a free appetizer with the purchase of a meal, don't then order the two meals you would have ordered along with the appetizer. You'll be spending the same amount as you would have without the coupon, but simply getting extra food. With the size of restaurant portions, this is not necessary.

Instead, look at this as a way to get away with purchasing less. Order just that one appetizer and one meal between the two of you -- and share. An appetizer and a meal is generally more than enough food for two people, and you save the entire cost of a meal this way. Think creatively to figure out how to really save with other types of coupon deals.

Ask about student discounts.

A lot of restaurants offer student discounts. They just may not advertise them because they don't want to be handing them out left and right. Thus, it's important to always ask if there's a student discount. You can call a few restaurants ahead and ask, and then choose a place that does have a discount. If you can find a place where you can leverage an online coupon and a student discount, then you're really in good shape.

In addition to following the tips above, remember to order conservatively, staying away from more expensive menu items. Order water to drink with your meal, and share menu items that are too large for one person. You probably can't afford to eat out every night, but with these strategies, you can do so occasionally without breaking the bank.