There are several things you can do to save money, and preserve your dining out budget.
1. Eat Earlier
We have found it cheaper to eat out for lunch instead of dinner. Many restaurants have a more inexpensive lunch menu you can choose from.
2. Check Groupon
Often, Groupon will sell discounted credit to local restaurants. Recently, they had a local Greek restaurant selling $16 of credit for $8, and the daily deal for a local breakfast restaurant gave us $30 for only $15. If you purchase your Groupon deal though Ebates, you will get even more cash back!
3. Share a Meal or Think About Leftovers
Certain foods don’t save well…burgers and fries are the classic example. On the other hand, foods like pizza, many pastas, and chicken do save well. If my husband and I are at Red Robin, for example, we will split a burger (they’re half a pound, so a quarter pound for each of us is plenty!) and order a small appetizer to fill in any appetite gaps. If we are at a restaurant where the food saves well, such as a pizza place, we will each order our own entree, then repurpose the leftovers for another meal.
4. Look At Costco
Costco gets a bad rap with many couponers, but I can’t live without it! Example? Our Costco sells discounted gift cards to local restaurants. They have recently sold $100 worth of a local favorite restaurant gift cards for only $79.99. I’ve also seen a local burger joint, $50 for only $39.99, and the same deal for California Pizza Kitchen. This savings is obvious.
5. Join Loyalty Programs
Many restaurants have loyalty programs that reward you for dining there. A favorite local chain will give you a $5 credit for every $50 spent. Local sub shops give you a free sub for every 10 you buy. Red Robin will give you a free entree when you’ve purchased 9. By joining loyalty programs, you can earn credit to your favorite restaurant just by eating!