Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How To Save Money at Restaurants and Enjoy a Meal Out

When Friday night hits, I am a bit burned out from cooking all week, so we make a point to go out to dinner. However, dining out can take a bite out of the outgoing cash flow, so we are always looking for ways to save money and still enjoy a night out at a restaurant.

Eleven Tips to Save You Money at Restaurants
1. What is your favorite restaurant? Go to the websites of all your favorite restaurants and see if they have online coupons or specials on their sites. So simple, yet so effective.

2. Take advantage of mid-week specials. Our local pizza shop sells large cheese pizzas on Tuesdays for $6.99 vs. $14.99 the rest of the week.

3. Kids Eat Free promotions. Kids meals normally range from $3.99 - $5.99. But many restaurants offer free kids meals or reduced kids meals with an adult meal purchase during specific hours or days. For example, a favorite local Italian restaurant offers FREE kids meal with adult meal purchase on Saturdays from 2pm - 4pm. Make it easy on yourself, search Kids Meal Deals or Kids Eat FREE Deals in your area at Kids Meal Deals. I just signed up to receive their newsletter and it appears the restaurants are the national chains.

4. Eat FREE on your birthday. Sign up for Red Robin's e-newsletter and get a free burger on your birthday.

5. Go out for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner. These specials always seem to be so much cheaper.

5. Order an appetizer and share a main dish. Or just order appetizers instead of main dishes.

6. Avoid the soda pop. At $2 - $2.50, it is an expensive drink. Avoid not just for monetary reasons, but also for your health. Most restaurants offer free refills and the waitress just keeps pouring. By the time you leave, you might have had 3+ glasses of soda. For this reason alone, I have stopped ordering sodas at a restaurant, because I was so bloated on soda. I now order just water. If you must have a soda, buy a 2 liter at the grocery store for 79 cents and drink it at home.

7. Enter your zip code at to see what area restaurants are offering deep discounts on gift certificates. You might be able to snag a $25 certificate for $10 or even cheaper!

8. Consider purchasing a Bonus or Entertainment book for your area. Order them online or look for the books at a local bookstore. The majority of the coupons are Buy 1 Get 1 FREE. We get one every year from my parents for Christmas. They make great gifts for people who are hard to buy for.

9. Do you receive a Coupon Clipper magazine in your mailbox? They are a great source for local restaurant coupons. We keep ours in the car, so we always have it with us. Also plug in your zip code at the Clipper site, DoubleTakeDeals for 50% off deals in your area.

10. Check your local newspaper for coupons. Find out when they run their dining guide. Ours runs on Thursdays and often times includes coupons.

11. Short on cash even with the coupons, save your change in a large jar and when it is full, cash it in for a non-guilty meal out.

What tips can you add to help save money at restaurants? Let us know in the comments.

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