10 Ways We Save Money Eating Out
It never ceases to me amaze me how many times we actually need to eat out in a week’s time. There is always something to do a few nights a week that ruins my plans of a home cooked meal. Over the years we have found resources and strategies that have helped us to better afford these circumstances. We’ve also found a few great options for “date night” type restaurants!
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1. Go out to eat early
There are several benefits to going out to eat early. There are early bird specials at a lot of popular restaurants. You can usually find restaurants with bars that have happy hours. This means that appetizers are usually half off. I have been known to make my whole meal out of half price appetizers. Also, if you can get there early enough the whole menu may still be on lunch pricing! We sometimes pick our daughter up from school and have dinner out around 4:00. Once we get home all we have to worry about is homework, laundry and everything else that fills up a typical evening!
2. Subscribe to text, email, and Facebook for your favorite restaurants
Restaurants are notorious for sending special offers out on days that aren’t that busy for them. Take the time to compile a list of restaurants in your town that offer “Kids Eat Free” night. They usually send out notifications but if you know ahead of time you can have a plan. Also, if your family is the type to order dessert, see if you can find restaurants that give it for free. Example: my daughter loves O’Charleys because they have “Free Pie Wednesday.”
3. Order water!
Always order water to drink! I sometimes have a hard time with this one because I am afraid they may have a fruity cocktail that I will love and if I don’t order it I may be missing out! Every now and then I just have to give in if something looks amazing but I never order tea or sodas. I believe that there are times when a cocktail price can be justified (like during happy hour) but they could never justify the price of tea or sodas.
4. Skip the appetizers
The only time you should buy an appetizer is when you intend to make the appetizer your meal. I have been known to do this. I am perfectly content with a $7.00 plate of potato skins and sour cream! If you decide to order the appetizer then split an entrée to cut down on the cost of the whole meal.
5. Get your food to go
Not only does this option save you the cost of drinks but it also saves you the money from having to tip the server.
6. Buy discounted gift cards online
Order your restaurant gift cards ahead of time from websites like Raise.com and Cardpool.com to get a discount. The discount I get usually ranges from 5% to 15% but I have seen them as high as 19% for a less popular place. The shipping is free as well so this is a win-win! There are also retail stores available!
This is my favorite website for awesome deals! I use it for everything…this post is about restaurants though. The deals are usually half price and there is almost always a coupon code to use if you search online. I can’t remember the last time I even paid half price for one of their offers and they always have several restaurant deals in our local area. They also send coupon codes to your email FREQUENTLY…like, if it wasn’t for the coupon codes I might consider unsubscribing!
9. Coupon Books
Entertainment Book and Attractions Dining and Value Guide are the coupon books that we buy. We always make our money back on at least the first few purchases. The coupons are mostly Buy One Get One up to a certain value and I’ve seen the value as high as 13.99! There are also retail coupons in these books!
10. Last but not least…Restaurant.com
This one is not my absolute favorite but it has a perk that I haven’t found with the other options I listed. I have found some very nice restaurants listed on here that make for a great affordable date night! My husband and I bought a certificate to a nice restaurant inside a hotel in our area. We had a beer and a cocktail, 2 filet mignon dinners with sides and 2 desserts for about $65.00 total!
Busy evenings can wreak havoc on your budget so hopefully these money saving tips help with that! If you have suggestions you’d like to see added let us know in the comments below!