Saving Money When Dining Out

Wednesday, I discussed how to avoid the temptation to dine out! But, every once in a while, we will go ahead and give into that temptation. For our family, that amounts to one time per week.

Here is how our family saves money eating out!

Coupons

Check out the circulars that come in the mail or local newspaper for coupons to your favorite restaurants. Many grocery stores print coupons on the back of their receipts. If you cannot find one for your favorite place to eat, do a quick google search of “(Name of restaurant) printable coupons” or look at the restaurant’s website to see if you can sign up for coupons. I like to keep a separate email address just for coupons and sign-ups.

Family Nights

A lot of restaurants have nights where kids eat free or at a discount. Some even extend a discount to adults. Simply do a quick google search of “Kids Eat Free (Insert name of your city).”

Blue Coast Burrito has $2 kid’s meals and a $6 burrito combo on Tuesday nights. Our entire family can eat for 2/3 of the normal price on that night. Select Chick-fil-a’s offer free kids meals and activities on their family nights. Logan’s Roadhouse offers two full adult meals for $15.99 Monday-Wednesday and some locations offer a discount on kid’s meals as well.

Rewards Clubs

If you have a few favorite restaurants, inquire about any reward’s clubs. Many offer reward’s programs that will give you a discount after a certain number of purchases. A lot of these clubs are now through phone apps, but some are still email clubs or in-store cards.

Gift Cards

Around the holidays, many restaurants offer incentives to purchase gift cards (such as “buy $20 get $5). If you have a favorite restaurant and can spend the cash up front, this is a great way to save money. You can even combine a gift card with other coupons and rewards programs!

Warehouse stores also offer bulk gift card packages year round. For instance, Sam’s Club offers $100 of O’Charley’s gift cards for $80. O’Charley’s also frequently offers 20% off coupons. If you use the gift cards from Sam’s and a coupon each time you go, you will end up with $125 worth of food for $80. That is a 36% savings!

Split an Entrée

Portion sizes at many restaurants are so large that you can easily split one. If at all possible, split with someone else in your party or eat half at the restaurant and ask for a to-go box. In many cases, you can find an appetizer or soup that will serve as an entrée for a fraction of the cost.

Downgrade

Look for cheaper restaurants when you do choose to dine out. Even fast food can be acceptable if your reasons for dining out include convenience, spending time with your family, or avoiding cooking and cleaning. Sometimes we eat at home and go out for dessert afterwards for a lower cost alternative on family night.

Don’t Be THAT Guy!

While it is great to save money while eating out, make sure that you do not do so at the expense of your waiter or waitress. It may seem like an easy way to save money is to cut back on a tip because it is a cost within your control. But, PLEASE, leave a decent tip! I like to tip based on what the total would have been pre-coupon or gift card.

Do you have any other great ways to save money while eating out?

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