We like to eat out - a lot. Unfortunately our eating out isn't necessarily at cheap places. Even though I budget for eating out I also like to save money. Here are a few things that I do to save money while eating out.
Quite a few restaurants offer surveys with a free item as their thank you. Take advantage of these surveys, if nothing else going out for the free appetizer or desert and drinks would be a nice date night.
Check for Frequent Buyer Cards
Our absolute favorite place to eat is Outback. Not only do they offer the surveys (and we get Aussie Fries every time we go) but they also have a rewards card. I input the code at the bottom of our receipt and watch the points grow. Right now I have enough points for a $10 gift card and an appetizer or desert. Our other favorite place to go (it's a local establishment) has a similar deal but they gave us a card to present every time we pay. I've gotten free house wine, free desert, free appetizer and $'s off. Don't be afraid to ask your favorite restaurant if they have a program.
Eat During Happy Hour
If you like to have an occasional drink, make sure you go out during the week at Happy Hour. The Outback by us has their Sangria's (my all time favorite drink is Outback's Strawberry Sangria) on double bubble during the week. Can anyone say date night? Free appetizer and 2 for 1 drinks.
Check Out Sites like Groupon
There are a plethora of sites that offer discounted gift certificates so look around. We're all familiar with Groupon, but some cities have sites that are unique to their area. One of our local radio stations every Friday offer a 50% off gift certificate at a certain restaurant. Take advantage of it but make sure you read the fine print. When I went to use one of my Groupons at Papa Murphy's they wouldn't let me use it with the Internet sale price I ordered with. Didn't save me as much as it should have. I won't be buying Papa Murphy's Groupons any more
Use Points for Gift Cards
Sites like Swagbucks as well as most credit cards let you redeem restaurant gift certificates with your points. Go for it, is there anything sweeter than a free meal? Just make sure that you aren't using a credit card to gain points and then have to pay interest. You would have been better paying for your meal.
Ask for Gift Cards
Every year my mom gives my husband a $50 gift card to Outback for Christmas. It's one of my favorite presents because I know that we'll use it. I always ask for gift cards to restaurants for Christmas (note: most restaurants offer specials during Christmas allowing you to get more for your money)
Many places offer coupons in weekly circulars or in publications like the Entertainment Book. Look for them and take advantage of them.
Update - Living so Abundantly shared a website that lists coupons available at different restaurants. Surviving the Stores has quite a listing of available coupons. Thanks Living so Abundantly!
What do you do to save money eating out?
I'm linking this up over at Life as Mom.
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