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I enjoy eating out. It's convenient and means less dishes to clean at the end of the day. The problem? It all adds up! Most places we eat have a drive thru window attached. Perhaps once a season we splurge on a dinner out where the servers come to us and the food is served on real plates. Whether the establishment be fast food or sit down, we have discovered a few tips to keep our cost of eating out as low as possible.

10 Ways Thrifty People Eat Out For Less

1. Dollar menus

A regular eat out dinner night for us is five $1 menu burgers with 3 large fries to share; we bring it home to eat together around the dinner table.

2. Drink Water

If you can tolerate it, drink water! Water is FREE where as Sodas can be an added $2 per drink. Sometime re-fills aren't even free! Water is free and you drink as much as you want!

3.  Restaurant Email Lists

Most restaurants have websites and on them you will find an area to sign up for their email list. I have found that signing up for our favorite restaurants’ email lists has always been worth it as they tend to send out great coupons on a regular basis. Don’t forget about the free birthday food clubs too! Those make celebrating the birthday person on their big day a lot easier on the wallet.

4. Share entrees

Many restaurants serve huge entrees that can easily be shared and the servers never seem to mind bringing out an extra plate. Not sure it'll be enough? Just add on an extra side. This will give you plenty to eat and keep the costs down! {reminder: don’t be cheap, be thrifty; if you shared an entree you still tip like you both ate an entree if you had good service}.

5. Go For Lunch 

I love going for lunch. Often you can get the same meal as at dinner for a fraction of the cost - Especially during the week day. Plus it seems like such a treat to have lunch out! 

6. Early Bird Special

Call you favorite place to eat and ask if they have early-bird specials before a certain time, or if they have a happy hour. You can often save up to 40% just but eating a bit earlier than usual.

7. Discount gift cards

If your family eats regularly at a larger chain restaurant you should consider checking Cardpool for a discounted gift card. They also carry cards for Chili’s, Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden, Domino’s, and Panera Bread. What gift cards they have and how big the discount is varies, so check often to get the best money saving benefit from Cardpool.

8. Point earned gift cards

Even better for the wallet than a discounted gift card is a gift card earned by doing things you already do online anyways. Various point programs will give you points for searching online, shopping, or doing other online activities through their platforms. My absolute favorite: Swagbucks: Earn points called SB. With over 20 ways to earn points some people have reported earnings of $100 a month with Swagbucks.

9. Become an expert at knowing where the best specials of the day are

My family knows that the least expensive night to order pizza from our favorite pizza joint is Monday or Tuesday when they run a great one topping deal. We also know if we are in the mood for shakes we should do it during 2pm to 4 pm when we can get them half price. We also pay more attention to when the “kid’s eat free” days are so we only need to pay for my husband and myself.. However, if you still have little ones you might want to check out this listing of where and when your kids can eat for free.

10. Become a junk mail lover

Every month our mailman delivers a giant wad of advertisements to our mailbox. Most of it is just junk, but usually there are 2 or 3 sheets of coupons for our favorite fast food restaurants, making it worth my time to sift through the pile before it hits the recycle bin. We have also found coupons for locally owned restaurants in a small, free magazine delivered to our door that also looks like junk, but its pages contain great deals if you search them.

11. Follow websites that share restaurant deals

Closet of Free Samples shares great restaurant deals as they become available and we are aware of them. 

12. Use daily deal site deals

Groupon for months ran a deal for half price meals on our favorite locally owned BBQ joint. MWho can say no to half price date night?! Our family has also used Living Social to grab great restaurant deals a few times.

How does your thrifty family eat out for less?

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