If you were ever a waitress before like me, you know what to avoid at all costs when you sit down to have a meal in a restaurant — some things stick with you long after you’ve thrown away your no-slip sneakers and black slacks. But if you’ve never been a server, keep reading below for restaurant tips that will save you more than just money.

Don’t ask for Lemon in water

The reason comes down to sanitation. When I waited tables at both a casual chain restaurant and a family-owned diner, every server grabbed lemon slices from the same container to plunk into glasses of water. Yes, with their bare hands. Even if only seven servers were working that shift, that’s 14 hands and that doesn’t include the expediter plating the food. Yikes. If you need a hint of citrus in your water, go for lime instead. Chances are it’ll come from the bar, and there’s usually only one to two bartenders every shift (so it’ll be a lot less germ-y).

Always Order the Small Salad

Don’t go for entrée-size salads, as you’ll end up paying a premium price for not much more than the side salad portion. Restaurants use large plates to trick customers into thinking they’re getting more food, but I’ve witnessed on several occasions that that’s not really the case. Pro tip: Whenever there are two sizes of anything on a restaurant menu, ask the waitstaff to specify what the size difference is so you’re clear on what you’re paying for.

don’t go for Apps

If you’re dining at a restaurant that serves large entrée dishes, ordering appetizers means you likely won’t eat all of your food. To avoid food waste and keep your bill on the lower side, quell hunger with the basket of bread over that order of wings or calamari. Or think about splitting the main dish. Timing is also important. Prior to 7pm, most restaurants haven’t picked up yet for the dinner rush, so your food will usually come out quickly — which means no appetizers needed.

What are some ordering tips you follow in restaurants? Let us know @BritandCo.

(Photo via Aniko Hobel / Getty)