I LOVE to eat out. But it is so expensive. I am often amazed that for my family of 4 we easily could spend as much as it costs to buy a weeks worth of groceries.
We don’t eat fast food (except Chipotle) so I can’t keep the costs down that way. So I use a few other tricks to make sure I don’t go broke!
1. Use Groupon or Living Social– I am often amazed at the great 1/2 price or more deals you can grab on these deal sites. Sometimes you will even find your favorite restaurant. By more often than not is a great way to find a new eatery to try out in your area.
2. Split meals- my husband and will not usually do this with me, because he often wants a different type of meal than I do. My mom and I do this all the time and love the money it saves.
3. Sign up for email newsletter for your favorite restaurants– Make a list of your preferred places to eat and then Google their websites. Almost all have some sort of newsletter you can sign up for. You will be alerted to upcoming specials, and you might even get coupons in your inbox. Get the On the Border newsletter here.
4. Skip the drinks- This is a no brainer. I know a lot of your lot your beverages, but the mark up is SO high and there is nothing unique about a Coke or Pepsi at a restaurant or the one you drink at home. Why pay too much for something that cost 10x less outside of the restaurant? Drinks can easily cost you $10-15 for 4.
Also read: 5 Unique and Frugal Date Night Ideas
5. Go for lunch– I love going for lunch. Often you can get the same meal as at dinner for a fraction of the cost. Plus it seems like such a treat to have lunch out.
6. Get discount gift cards– Check out Carpool for steep discounts on your favorite restaurants like P.F. Chang’s Gift Cards- 9% off and Buca di Beppo Gift Cards= 20% off. What is super sweet about this is you can combine them with coupons and specials!
7. Get your to-go box at the beginning of the meal– This is a great trick to both save yourself from overeating and get a “free” lunch tomorrow. Put half of it away before you even start eating.
8. Be an early-bird– Call you favorite place to eat and ask if they have early-bird specials before a certain time, or if they have a happy hour. You can often save up to 40% just but eating a bit earlier than usual.
9. Only grab dessert– This is a fun date for the whole family or the two of you. Eat dinner at home and then grab dessert at a nice restaurant.
10. Eat at the bar– recently my husband and I received a $50 gift card to a very expensive restaurant. I went online and realized that the $50 would probably only cover 1/2 of the meal. To be honest, I did not want to spend that much for dinner. However, I saw that nightly they offered deep discounts on a limited menu on the bar. We could eat in there for under $50 and ended up giving the balance to a nice couple who was eating in there, too.
Also read: 11 Creative Ways to Save $1100
11. Always use Google or check Facebook- Make sure to Google the “Name of your restaurant” Coupons before you get there, especially chains. I am often able to save $10 or more by doing this. Make sure to check their Facebook page and look for specials and coupons there.
12. Leave the kids at home- This only works if you have a free baby sitter (like grandma), or if you can schedule a play date for your kids while you head out. It’s a good idea to have a friend whom you can exchange babysitting by doing a play date once or twice a month.
What are some other ways your family saves on eating out?
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