This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure for more information.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY EATING OUT
Are you trying to save money eating out?
The first thing that seems to get cut out of the budget when trying to save money is going out to eat.
If you’re a huge foodie this may be an issue but it doesn’t have to be something that gets cut out completely!
I like to have balance in my life, I try and eat at home as much as I can but every once in a while I like a nice dinner out with friends and family. I also like to get out of the office and grab lunch when I can, so saving money when going out to eat is something that is important to me.
Luckily my friends are also budget-conscious so we can plan our meals at places that give us the best deal. The great part is that there usually is a way to save at most restaurants even if you don’t have the most budget-savvy friends and family.
So to help everyone that is interested in saving money when eating out, I came up with 15 different ways to save money when going out to eat. Some of which can be combined to save a bunch of money and maybe even allow you to eat for free!
SAVE MONEY EATING OUT
1. Order Water and Skip Dessert and Appetizers
I know this one is super obvious and simple but it works so I added it to the list as a reminder.
Drinks can be super expensive and appetizers most often will get you so full you can’t even finish your entrée.
Try cutting at least one or two of these out.
Maybe have a glass of wine at home before or after dinner. Two glasses of wine at dinner can cost as much as a bottle in most cases. The same goes for beers and mixed drinks.
For dessert, buy a nice pie or cake to eat at home which will often cost a lot less than buying each person a dessert at a restaurant.
Heck even going out for an ice cream cone after is usually cheaper.
2. Use Groupon!
Groupon is great for saving money when going out to eat. They offer huge discounts on restaurant vouchers and I find a lot of my favorite restaurants are using them to offer discounts.
You can save 25%-50% or more using Groupon! They also often have coupon codes which lower the price even more.
If you haven’t heard about Restaurant.com they are a website where you can buy extremely discounted gift cards for thousands of restaurants. They also have an app where you can buy on the go.
Restaurant.com has more than 62,000+ restaurants & providers nationwide and over 5000,00 deals available. Plus their deals never expire and can be exchanged anytime no questions asked.
4. Use Coupons
You can find restaurant coupons in your weekly flyers or on the websites of your favorite restaurants.
You may also want to sign up for your favorite restaurant’s reward program. Most often you will get a nice freebie or coupon just for signing up.
5. Use Free or Discounted Gift Cards
If you want to treat yourself to dinner then using gift cards is a great way especially when they are discounted or even free.
You can use sites like Raise and Gift Card Granny to get discounted restaurant gift cards. Use my referral link when you signup for Raise and you’ll get $5 towards your first gift card!
Another great way to get gift cards is by using programs like SwagBucks and Fetch Rewards to earn points that can be redeemed for restaurant gift cards. Use my referral links below to grab a bonus when you sign up for these FREE programs:
- Sign up for Fetch Rewards (use code: ESAVINGS for a bonus)
- Sign up for Swagbucks and Get a $10 Bonus
Using strategies like this will allow you to treat yourself more often. I have a whole article on How to Get Free Gift Cards you can check out for more of the programs I use.
6. Download the DOSH App
Dosh will give you cashback automatically when you dine out at certain restaurants.
All you do is link your debit or credit card and you’ll get cashback automatically in your DOSH Wallet which can then be transferred to PayPal or a bank account.
Just go ahead and download the Dosh App and get started. They are offering a $5 bonus after linking your first card so now is a great time to sign up.
7. Become a Mystery Shopper
I get to enjoy many nice dinners as a mystery shopper. A mystery shopper is someone who evaluates a restaurant or other establishment anonymously and then fills out a detailed report on their visit.
I wrote an article on how to become a mystery shopper and find legit jobs that you may want to check out if mystery shopping interests you.
I’ve had the opportunity to dine at high-end restaurants that I never would have even walked into because of mystery shopping.
8. Buy an Entertainment Book
The Entertainment book is a location specific coupon book and membership for usually under $15.
Your membership quickly pays for itself with savings of up to 50%. Get exclusive savings on not only restaurants but movie tickets, golf, zoos, skiing, shopping, travel & more.
This is a great book to keep in your glove compartment so it’s easily accessible when you’re on the go.
Check out and purchase an Entertainment Book here.
9. Use OpenTable
You may have heard of OpenTable but did you know they have a rewards program? I actually did not until recently.
OpenTable rewards diners for booking through them. You can collect Dining Points when you make and honor reservations, which you can then redeem for rewards later.
Find out more about OpenTable Rewards.
10. Sign up to get text messages and emails to your favorite restaurant
Text message promotions are becoming increasingly more popular as a quick way to get a discount at many restaurants and other places.
Most often you will just need to text a number and consent to receive messages and they will text you offers throughout the year.
I am signed up for several and get offers for free appetizers and drinks all the time.
11. Eat on Free Kids Nights
Most parents are taking their kids with them when they are going out to eat so one way to save money is to take advantage of free kids nights.
Lots of places offer free kids nights where kids can eat free with every adult entrée purchase.
12. Eat Lunch instead of Dinner
Lunch is most often always cheaper than dinner. If you can do a nice lunch instead of dinner you’re sure to save some money.
Most restaurants also offer lunch combos which are not offered at dinner and can be just as large if not larger than dinner portions.
13. Split Plates
A lot of restaurants have huge portions, if you know this then you may want to split a plate. Some restaurants do charge a split plate fee so check on that.
I often do this with friends and because I hate taking leftovers home and wasting food, it works out.
14. Use a Reward Credit Card
If you’re going out to eat why not use a reward credit card and just pay it off right when you get home?
I love my Discover Card which sometimes gives me as much as 5% back on my purchases.
15. Download Restaurant Apps
Restaurants especially fast food ones are jumping on the app bandwagon. I love it when I’m about to go through a drive-through and I can just pull up the app on my phone and use a coupon! Nothing to clip!
Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and McDonald’s are some of the more popular apps but there are thousands of others.
As you can see many of these tips can be combined and save you a whole lot of money! I hope this list has helped you! If it has, share it with your friends!
Have a money saving tip you would like to share? Comment below!