I enjoy eating out. It is convenient and means fewer 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 is 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 whereas Sodas can be an added $2 per drink. Sometimes 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.
TIP: 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 will be enough? Just add on an extra side. This will give you plenty to eat and keep the costs down!
Reminder: do not 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 weekday. Plus, it seems like such a treat to have lunch out!
6. Early Bird Special
Call your 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. 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 anyway.
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. I also like Fetch Rewards.
8. 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 from 2 pm 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.
9. 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.
10. Follow websites that share restaurant deals
Closet of Free Samples shares great restaurant deals as they become available, and we are aware of them.
BONUS: 11. Use daily deal site deals
Groupon for months ran a deal for half-price meals on our favorite locally owned BBQ joint. Who can say no to half-price date night?!
Our family has also used Living Social to grab great restaurant deals a few times.