I love to go out to eat! I mean, who wouldn't…someone else prepares the food for you and there's no cleanup. There's one catch, though…the cost.
Eating out can be a budget killer, especially these days when it seems like the prices on the menu just seem to be going up and up. However, there are a few things that you can do to reduce the cost when you do go out to eat:
- Use coupons: Check RetailMeNot for the latest restaurant coupons to save money on your local restaurants.
- Sign up for Restaurant Loyalty Clubs: When you sign up to receive e-mails from restaurants, you will often get meal coupons when they send out their newsletter. For example, when I signed up for the Chilis club, I received an e-mail for a free chips and salsa with an entree purchase. Plus, I received e-mails just about weekly with additional coupons.
- Use Groupon: Groupon has lots of great voucher deals on local restaurants. Sign up for e-mails (or just periodically check out Groupon for deals in your area).
- Check out the Weekly Specials: Check to see if your local restaurant has any specials on specific days of the week. For example, you can save on boneless wings at Buffalo Wild Wings on Thursdays.
- Go Out for Lunch: My husband and I tend to have lunch dates while the kids are in school. Not only do we save on babysitting, but we also can take advantage of lunch prices and portions (which are usually less than dinner prices) when you order from the lunch menu.
- Drink Water: If you drink water rather than order a drink you will probably save about $2.50 a person on drinks (which can add up quickly!).
- Skip Appetizers and Dessert: Not only do appetizers and dessert add to your bill, but I usually end up way too full by the end of the meal! Another option is to share just an appetizer and a dessert. We used to do that in high school.
- Share a Meal: If the portions are too big for you to eat by yourself, consider sharing an entree. When my kids were younger, we used to either share our meals with them or order one kids meal and have them share. That doesn't work anymore since both my boys can eat more than the adults sometimes!
- Sign up Birthday Freebies: When your birthday rolls around, you'll get inundated with e-mails for free or discounted items at restaurants. For example, my birthday was last week, and I got a free bowl at Genghis Grill (yummy!). To find out more about the birthday freebies, check out Free Birthday Treats.
- Kids Eat Free: KidsMealDeals.com has a great searchable list of restaurants that offer specials for kids. You can search by zip code and day of the week. If you hit a restaurant on the right day of the week, you can often get a free kids meal with your adult entrees.
- Check your Receipt: Before you throw away your receipt, check it for any surveys that offer a $/$$ coupon or a free item on your next visit. For just a few minutes of your time, you can saving on your dining out expenses the next time you go out.
How do you save money when you go out to eat? Any tips I need to add to my list?