Eating most of your meals at home is the best way to save money, but everyone needs a little excitement (and a break from cooking) every now and then. Here are a few ways to save money when dining out.
1. Groupon/Living Social. If you live near a big city, it’s possible to find incredible deals on sites like Groupon & Living Social. They typically have a wide selection of eateries to choose from and you can expect to save at least 50% off of your dining bill.
2. Restaurant.com. Restaurant.com allows you to purchase deeply discounted gift certificates to local restaurants. When you purchase your certificate, you’ll notice that the minimum purchase is above the value of the certificate. So, if you purchase a $25 certificate, your minimum order will usually be $37.50. As of this writing a $25 certificate costs $10, which means your total out-of-pocket cost for the meal will be $22.50. Further your savings by going through a cash-back website like e-bates (affiliate link) or Shop at Home before purchasing your certificate. I’ve been able to purchase $25 certificates for just $4 in the past.
3. Use Coupons. By far, the simplest way to save on dining out is using coupons. I recommend that you sign up for email newsletters from your favorite restaurants, so you’ll occasionally be emailed their coupons and deals. If you have a subscription to your local paper, you’ll be able to find local restaurant coupons and deals as inserts. Also be sure to check your favorite couponing sites if you’re flexible on the restaurant – two of my favorite sources for restaurant deals and coupons are Hip 2 Save & Coupon Divas.
4. Be an early bird. You’ll almost always get a better deal if you go out to eat for brunch or lunch. Most restaurants offer lunch time specials at a significantly discounted rate from their dinner menu.
Do you have any tips for eating out on a budget?