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While the best way to save on dining out is to just not do it… that’s not really what we all want to hear. Sometimes you have to when you are traveling or many times you just want to have someone else do all the work!
Here are six ways you can save on dining out, and I promise none of them are to just stay home!
Coupons & Mobile Apps
The old standard for saving is still around, you’ll find a number of restaurants that release coupons online, through emails and now through the mobile apps. From McDonalds to Olive Garden you’ll find savings off your next meal. Check out my list of mobile apps that offer free food.
Tip: Many restaurants give you extra freebies and treats when you order or pay with the mobile app. It’s very easy and still comes off the card you would have used but will earn you free dessert or other bonuses.
Before heading out, check online gift card sites to see what deals they are running. Raise.com is one of my favorites, and right now you can get a $50 gift card to Longhorn for $45, plus they run coupon codes to save even more.
Remember you can still use your gift card with a coupon in the restaurant!
While it may seem like not as much fun, the easiest way to save is definitely to order less. Drink water, order a larger plate and split it or even order an appetizer for your meal.
The two most expensive things to buy in a restaurant are dessert and alcoholic drinks, so remind yourself that you can get an entire pie at the grocery store for cheaper than one slice in the restaurant. Just extend the night and have a fun dessert when you get home!
Kids Eat Free Nights or Early Bird Specials
Eating out with kids can get expensive fast! Many restaurants still offer kids eat free nights, so maximize your savings and try to eat out on those nights. Each store will vary so call your local store to see what they offer.
If you don’t have kids, then avoid the crowds and go early for early bird specials or order your meal to-go. Many restaurants offer extra savings and incentives for to-go orders as this gives them a way to serve more customers without needing more tables! You’ll find discounts of 10-15% for larger chains or free dessert with smaller restaurants.
There is a way to eat out and actually get paid for it! Many Mystery Shopping groups work with large restaurants and fast food chains to help give customer feedback. In return for sharing your thoughts they will reimburse you for your meal and pay you for your time!
We’ve done this at Longhorn with a shopping requirement to order two entrees, drinks and dessert and everything was reimbursed by the company!
Rewards Programs and Credit Cards
Another way save is by earning rewards off your purchase from your credit cards or dining rewards programs. You can even double dip! Pay with your airlines miles credit card and get more miles for your next vacation, but also enroll in the American or United Dining Rewards programs and earn bonus miles. If you don’t plan to fly, get savings through Shell Gas Stations and their fuel rewards or any other rewards credit card you want.
See more ways to save on entertainment.