Most diet plans, whether they are for the purpose of helping you get in better shape or teaching you how to eat organically, are designed on the concept that you will be cooking your meals yourself at home. But the reality of life is that most people will need to eat at a restaurant every once in a while. You might be celebrating a friend's birthday or be attending a business lunch. If you're eating out and you want to do it on a budget, here are some tips to help you achieve just that.

If you're able to choose which meal you're eating out for than you should remember that lunch is usually a cheaper option than dinner. And if you must go out to dinner than you should see if you can still order off of the lunch menu. You might find that the corner bistro near your office has some choices with smaller portions and price tags when eating a noon rather than six o'clock at night. The specials are also generally a bit more reasonable in price and might not include as many courses.

Check what specials are available and take advantage of promotions and coupons when they are available. If you're heading out for a date night, you might want to invest in an entertainment book for the city or check to see if there are any food festivals going on in any of the neighborhoods throughout downtown. You might find that some restaurants are offering a fixed price menu or that there are specials as part of a cultural festival. These are great times to eat out and can save you a bundle on a wonderful evening out.

Share your food or save some for later. In North America it seems that the portion sizes when eating out are getting larger all the time. It could help your waistline and your wallet to reduce the amount that you're eating on your own by splitting one of the courses or the whole meal with a friend or your date for the evening. If you're at a event that has been catered it might not look all that great to take some of the food home in your bag. But most restaurants now will expect that people who can't finish their meal will ask for a takeout container to bring the rest home. This way one meal is turning into two or more.

Sometimes the whole reason for going out is just so you don't have to worry about eating at home. If this is the case than you can save on the gratuity and just get take-out to bring home. Some of the best restaurants offer delivery menus and this could save you some off your favorite dishes.

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