Eating out is a fun thing to do with family, friends, as a couple or even on your own. You get to eat great food and, most importantly, you don't have to cook it. Dining out is an experience too, and not just about eating. You get to enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant and spend time talking in a way that you might not at home. If you feel like you're spending too much on eating out or you can't afford to do it, a few savings tricks could help to make it more affordable or reduce your spend. Use this guide to save money on dining out from now on.
This is a contributed post and contains affiliate links. My website is my job, and helps to support our family. If you decide to buy something you see mentioned here, I would be so thankful if you clicked through my links so I can receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you! Please read my full disclosure.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”c9485″ via=”yes” ]A few savings tricks could help to make it more affordable or reduce your spend. Use this guide to save money on dining out from now on.[/ctt]
Limit How Often You Eat Out
It might go without saying, but limiting the amount that you eat out will help you to save money. You can also eat out at nicer places if you're willing to save your money and go less often. It can be tempting to dine out a lot. You can't be bothered to cook, and it's so easy to go to a restaurant, whether it's casual or more formal. Eating out once a week might not seem like a big deal, but it can definitely add up. If you do it less often, it will feel like more of a treat. Try going no more than once a month or even less. Saving it for special occasions is a good idea.
Get Online Discounts
In the age of the internet, you can save money on anything by going online. Dining out is no different, and there are plenty of sites that will show you the latest available discounts. You can use generic sites like Groupon, where you can get deals for restaurants and many other things too. There are also specialist restaurant websites, which you might prefer because you'll likely have more of a choice. There are sites such as Bite Hunter for discounts, and you can find apps to download on your phone, such as Savored.
Dine Out on Slow Days
Most restaurants have days when they're not particularly busy. These are often at the beginning of the week, including Monday, in particular. While some smaller restaurants simply don't open on a slower day because it makes more financial sense for them, others do what they can to bring in more customers. This means that you're likely to find a great deal at the beginning of the week from plenty of restaurants. Keep an eye out for 2-for-1 offers, discounts and other ways to save money. Eating early in the week can be a great way to make the beginning of the week a bit brighter.
Sign Up for Loyalty Schemes
Signing up for loyalty schemes and collecting points can often save you money. You might be able to put points toward the cost of a meal or perhaps redeem a free meal, dish or drink when you've completed a certain number of actions. Lots of loyalty clubs will also contact you about special offers that non-members won't get. They'll email you or contact you in other ways to let you know about the latest that they have available. You might get vouchers or discount codes sent to you, or there could even be special events that you get first access to.
Get Discount Gift Cards
Being given a gift card for your favorite restaurant is always great. But what if you didn't have to wait to be given one? Of course, just putting money on a discount card for yourself would be pointless. However, with Cards2Cash, you can buy a gift card that someone else didn't want. You could save more than 20% compared to what's on the card. So you could get a $50 card for $40. Combine that with other offers and you could make an even bigger saving on a meal or two. This is a great tactic if you have a favorite place to eat or you don't mind where you eat out.
Look for Special Offers and Set Menus
You don't have to go online to look for special restaurant deals. You might be wandering around looking for somewhere to eat, or there could be some deals that are only available if you go into the restaurant or make a reservation first. One great way to eat cheaper at some places is to look for fixed menus. You'll either get a set few courses, or you'll have two or three options to choose from for each course. This is more common in some places than others, and you might be more likely to find it in fine dining restaurants, especially for lunch.
Go to Happy Hour
Plenty of restaurants have a happy hour, where appetizers are on a special offer. You might be able to get half off or even free food if you order two of them. Taking advantage of happy hour could save you a lot of money on dining. Often the appetizer is large enough to feed at least one person, if not two and it is usually a significant savings compared to an entree.
Drink Tap Water
If you like to have water on your table, there's one simple thing that you can do to reduce the cost of your meal. While bottled water can be nice, and you might want it carbonated, there's nothing wrong with having water that doesn't come from a bottle. Not only is it more eco-friendly, but it's a lot cheaper too. In fact, in some places, restaurants aren't allowed to charge for tap water. Of course, whether you drink, it might depend on where you are. If you're traveling, there are some places where drinking the tap water isn't advised. So be aware of local advice before you pour yourself a glass of water.
Cut Down on Courses
Having a three or four-course meal is great for a special treat. Maybe you barely eat for the rest of the day, so you can fit it all in. But you don't always need to have several courses, even if the portions are smaller. One or two could be enough, and you don't even need to order yourself a main dish. Sometimes having a few smaller plates or sharing things around the table can be a great idea. If you find that you regularly don't even finish what's on your plate, what's the harm in skipping the entree and focusing on other courses?
Have the Kid's Portion
In some restaurants, you'll find that smaller portions are available. Of course, you may not want to eat from the kids' menu if it's all chicken nuggets and hamburgers. But if you're at a restaurant that offers half portions of their usual menu, it's a great way to save some money. If you find that a full portion is too much for you, cutting back to a smaller one could still leave you satisfied. And if you discover that you're still hungry, adding a couple of sides or nibbles could supplement your dish and still save you money, even if they are shaped like smiley faces!
Go for the Big Portion
An alternative approach is to just get the big portion. Many restaurants are happy to wrap up the rest of your food so that you can take it home with you. You might end up spending a little more on the meal, but you could get two meals out of it if you take home your leftovers. Just ask if they can put it in a box or something for you to take home and you won't have to feel guilty about not finishing off your food. Or ask for an extra plate for your significant other and share it.
Eat It At Home
While eating out at restaurants is great, you don't always have to stay in the restaurant. If you can get your food to go, you still get the pleasure of having someone else cook for you. Order your food online or over the phone to pick up or just go somewhere you can walk in and order it to go. You can save on having to tip the waiter, service charges and delivery fees because you're picking it up yourself.
Be a Mystery Shopper
Restaurants use mystery shoppers to test out their services. They hire a research firm that uses mystery shoppers to report back to them about their products and quality of service. The mystery shopper goes to the restaurant when they're asked to and buys what they're told to, then keeps the receipt to claim the money back. There are often a few actions that you'll be asked to perform, and you have to give a report on your experience after. Plus, you can't just eat wherever you want. But you get a free or heavily discounted meal out of it, which is a definite bonus.
If you're trying to save money, you don't have to stop dining out. You can still enjoy it and reduce your spending.
This is a contributed post.
Subscribe so you never miss a post.
Please share this post.
Join the newsletter
Subscribe to receive our latest articles and promotional content by email from NeededInTheHome