10 Ways to Eat Out for Less!
It’s MONEY MONDAY with Savings Gal! Today’s topic is on eating out for less! Eating out can be a real treat and sometimes when you are busy or on-the-go, it’s a necessity. Here are 10 simple strategies that will help you eat out for less without that “side” of guilt!
- Use Restaurant Coupons!
Lots of restaurants offer printable coupons when you sign-up for their emails or “like” them on Facebook and I post a lot of printable restaurant coupons here. If you know you are going to be eating out, just plan ahead and chose a place that has a printable restaurant coupon offer and go there. It’s kind of like how I told you to plan your meals around what is on sale in my Healthy Gal series.
- Go Where Kids Eat FREE!
Often times there are restaurants that offer free kids meals with the purchase of an adult meal on specific day of the week or on a specific date with a coupon. Take advantage of these offers. If a family of 4 goes out to eat during a kids eat free offer, they will save an average of 33% off. Here is an example of why:
(2) Adult Entrees: $10.00 ea.
(2) Kids Entrees: $5.00 ea.
Kids eat FREE: (-$10.00)
Final Price: $20.00
*Keep in mind that it’s courteous to tip on the pre-coupon price.
- Buy Discounted Restaurant Gift Cards or Certificates!
A lot of sites offer discounted restaurant gift cards or certificates that you can purchase. Sites like Groupon have different restaurant offers every day with discounts as much as 80% off and Restaurant.com offers restaurant discounts in just about every city (you search by zip code) and you can get $10 certificates for $3 and $25 certificates for $10.
- Eat During Happy Hour!
Almost every restaurant has a happy hour where they offer 50% off select appetizers and/or entrees. Some of these offers are only good if you sit in the bar area, but most bar areas have outlining tables that you can sit at even if you have your kids with you. Most of the time happy hour is early, so you avoid the crowd as well, which is nice!
- Drink Water!
Drinks can really rake up the bill if you know what I mean! Usually they are around $2-$3 and that’s like 33% off the cost of an average meal ($10.00). Instead, try drinking water and even ask for lemon to flavor the water. It may take a wile for you to get use to, but it really does save a lot! If you are going to drink alcohol try going to dinner during happy hour where drinks are usually much less.
- Get Dessert Somewhere Else!
If you must have that dessert, consider stopping somewhere on your way home that would cost much less than a restaurant. Usually restaurant desserts are pricy ($5-$10), plus you have to pay a tip on top of that. You can stop by McDonalds and get an ice cream sundae for around $1.00, or Wendy’s and get a frosty for $.99. Maybe you might even go to Rite Aid and get Thrifty ice cream and you’ll have leftovers for another night at home.
- Ask About Half Portions or Lunch Sizes!
A lot of restaurants offer their lunch size or reduced portion sizes at dinner even if it’s not advertised on their menu. For example, I love the BJ’s personal pizza and salad lunch combo…my local BJ’s restaurant will allow me to get that same offer at dinner time for just $1.00 more, which by the way is way cheaper! My philosophy…it NEVER hurts to ask! All they can say is no!
- Share a Meal!
If you usually do not finish your meal, you might want to consider sharing a meal with someone in your family or who you are going out to eat with. You would be surprised who will say yes to that. If you are doubting how hungry you are…share anyway. You can always order more food, but I can tell you from personal experience, you probably won’t and this will save you 50%!
- Eat Somewhere that Doesn’t Require a Tip!
There are a lot of restaurants that offer counter service, which don’t require a tip to dine there. Places like Chipotle, Pick Up Stix, Pat & Oscars, Panda Express and Panera are examples of these places. They still offer a restaurant style atmosphere, but you don’t have to tip like you would at a restaurant, therefore saving you 15-20%!
- Order Take Out!
Lot’s of restaurants offer take out and even curb side pick-up! You may have to clean up the mess after you eat at home, but you will be saving the money on a tip, which can save an average of (15-20%).