Like many people, I love having dinner out. There’s just something fun about choosing whatever you like from the menu and having someone wait on you, and then not having to do the dishes afterward that makes dining out one of my fave things to do.
The problem is that dining out can be expensive, especially if you are doing it often. Let’s face it, we all know that buying groceries and cooking ourselves is way more cost effective, but it doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat out.
Here’s some ways that I save money eating at restaurants and you can too:
I Join their Social Media Platforms and Email Lists
Many chains and even local places have social media accounts and I like to join them as they will often post various specials. Sometimes for joining or liking their page you will get a coupon for a free appetizer or a even a discount off your next meal.
I Check their website
Hand in hand with social media accounts is their website. I love a particular local restaurant and every so often they will host special events or evenings in which they have reduced entrees and such. I’ve made it a habit to check their site before deciding where to go to eat at times.
I Use Groupon
This is a site that offers various special offers and discounts on just about everything you can think of to buy. I love checking out the local coupons for many things, but especially when I want to eat out as it’s a great way for small restaurants to offer discounts to customers. You purchase the “deal” in advance and use it when you eat at the restaurant. There’s a local place I love to eat but it’s quite pricey. Lo and behold they had a Groupon deal one day for a 4 course meal for only $29 per person, which ended up being a $30 savings per person!
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I’ll Opt for Take-Out Instead
There are times when I am just tired and don’t want to be bothered going into a restaurant, so I will order takeout from one of my fave places. The cost-saving thing about this is that of course I don’t have to pay for a tip, and I don’t typically order dessert or drinks for takeout, opting to have something at home instead.
I’ll Drink Water
I know, it sounds boring, but have you ever noticed the cost of a glass or carafe of wine at a restaurant is crazily overpriced? I will almost always opt for just a glass of water which saves me anywhere from $6-$15 depending on what I have ordered. (Plus it’s less calories than other beverages) Soft drinks and the sort can be $3 or more each, while cocktails, wine, and beer can be $7.50 or more each. That’s a lot of money!
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I Use My Cash Back Credit Card
While using credit on a frequent basis can be a slippery slope for many people, I like to use it for many of day to day purchases because I gain cash back and I know I will pay it off every month. So every time I dine out, I know I’m earning cash back and sometimes I will even apply the money I earned to pay off dinner. A double win!
I Avoid High Tourist Zones
When travelling, I try to steer clear of areas surrounding main tourist attractions where restaurants will often inflate prices because you pay for the “experience” of being there. If you walk a few streets over, you will always find more reasonably priced menus. (Sometimes the same goes for my own city during high tourism seasons as well)
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I Will Try Daily Specials
So many restaurants have some sort of “special” on given days. I always review what the specials are because they are generally a great price and sometimes something different than what you might usually get. It’s a great way to try something new.
I’ll Go on Birthdays
One of my fave places always gives a free dessert on your birthday, and I’m not ashamed to take advantage of that. But don’t hesitate to check around because some places will give you a discount, an appetizer or some other item on your birthday.
I’ll Opt for Lunch
A good example of this is when my good friend and I go for sushi. Our fave all you can eat place is way cheaper for lunch than for supper, so we will often opt for a girl’s catch-up session over the lunch hour than spending almost double over the supper hour.
Do you have ways to save money at restaurants? I’d love to hear them!