If you love to eat out, but don’t want it to be a drain on the budget. Check out these tips for ways to save at restaurants. Use these money saving tips to enjoy dining out without breaking the bank.
5 Ways to Save at Restaurants
I admit, I love to eat out! But with a family of 5 it can get pricey and become a drain on the budget. Here are 5 ways to help you save when dining out.
1. Use Coupons at Restaurants
Always check for coupons before you go. Watch your mailbox and newspaper for coupon inserts for fast food and casual dining locations. Many restaurants also offer printable coupons now too. Check their Facebook page or website for any current promotions. Apps are a great way to find coupons too (on the go even). Some of my go-tos are ValPak and the Entertainment Book.
2. Join Restaurant Newsletters and Reward Programs
Speaking of coupons, many restaurants have fan eNewsletters you can sign up for. Then you can get special offers and coupons sent right to your inbox! (Tip- use a “junk mail” account to sign up so your personal inbox isn’t cluttered). And don’t forget those reward programs too. These programs offer rewards, like free food and discounts, when making purchases. Both newsletters and reward programs also often include Birthday freebies!
3. Look for Kids Eat Free Nights
Many restaurants offer families a break each week by providing “Kids Eat Free Nights” (KEF). These discounts can help families afford to eat out. I have a full list of KEF deals (both national and local) right here on Mission to Save. My personal faves are Rusty Bucket (any night!) and Earth Fare (up to 6 Free meals!). You can also visit KidsMealDeals to find a location near you on any given night.
4. Check Daily Deal Sites
Looking to try a new, local establishment? Daily deal sites are perfect for finding, well- a deal! Many local, non-chain, restaurants take advantage of advertising deals on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. Yes these all require a purchase up front, but they can save you as much as 50% off your overall bill. And you might find a new fave in the process.
5. Use Gift Cards That Earn Points
If you know you will be dining out at a specific location, stop by your local grocery to pick up gift cards (to use as “cash”). That way you will earn Fuel Points on your dining experience. So even if you can’t find any other form of savings (discount or coupon)- you will at least earn the fuel reward. Don’t forget, you can also earn gift cards for free with great coupon apps like Ibotta and Fetch. There are even sites online like RaiseRaise where you can buy gift cards at discounted prices. Also watch for seasonal Bonus Gift Card offers. These usually come around Christmas and Mother’s Day. Usually, these entail buying $xx amount of a gift card from the restaurant and receiving back a bonus card to use on a future purchase.
UPDATE, ONE MORE: I recently created a post on Happy Hour Deals and Offers. These promotions aren’t just on drink specials but also include special food menu prices. Check them out here.
I am sure there are more ways to save on eating out. How do you stretch your dine-out budget?
I shared these money saving tips with the team on Good Day Columbus. (1/6/16)
Shannon B says
Appetizers are often big enough for a meal and are less expensive.
Mary Hoover says
Great tip Shannon! An app and a side salad is often a great (frugal) meal choice.