Always pay less than full price when dining out

5 Ways to Save while Dining Out

by Buck$ome Boomer

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About once a week, my husband and I like to leave the cooking to others by eating at restaurants or bringing home take-out. Fortunately, we balance out that enjoyment by cooking at home most days and working within a budget.

Tips on saving while eating out have been published at The Dollar Stretcher before, so why another article? I'll focus on ways that we pay less than full price on the food ordered.

  1. Coupons - You can find coupons for restaurants in more than the local newspaper. This is a time when you want to go through the junk mail. Many flyers include coupons for various services and restaurants.

    Another way we get "coupons" is with the purchase of the Entertainment Book for our local area. We get to try new (to us) establishments and get a free meal with the typical coupon. The book will also include offers to save at a wide variety of businesses. We use the grocery store coupons where the savings more than pay for the book.
  2. Restaurant Week - Most metropolitan areas offer restaurant week specials at least a couple of times a year. In our city, over 180 restaurants offered three course meals. With a price point at $20, $30 or $40 (higher end restaurants charged more), it's a good way to eat at an establishment that normally would break the budget. To find if your city has a restaurant week, Google restaurant week with your city name.
  3. Internet Specials - Sign up for the mailing list at your favorite restaurants. Not only will you get notified of menu changes or other news, but also many times there will be special Internet-only coupons or prices. Chain restaurants often have a "club," which may include free food for signing up and each year for your birthday.
  4. Promotions - Restaurants may offer free food to get their restaurant noticed (Denny's) or as a fundraiser (IHOP). You won't catch us there fighting the masses for a free grand slam. If you have the patience for the crowds, go for it.

    The promotions that we take advantage of include more food for a lower price but usually limits menu selection. An example is the recent promotion at Chili's for three courses for two people for $20.
  5. Prepaid Certificates/Coupons - We have saved two different ways by spending money in advance for less expensive restaurant outings. When had a 90% off sale last year, we purchased certificates to several local restaurants. The beauty of these is that they are not typically chains. I don't see them often at this price, but they are often offered at 80% off. Basically you pay from a few dollars for $25 towards the bill. Check the terms thoroughly before purchase as they vary from business to business.

If you haven't tried Groupon, check to see if it is offered in your city. Each day you get a new offer and restaurants are just one of the businesses offering goods or services at a reduced price but always at least 50% off. Last month my family had $70 worth of food for a total outlay of $30. It was fun to treat my son and his wife to dinner and we got to try someplace new.

As you can tell, we eat at a variety of restaurants, ranging from steakhouses to locally owned to chains and eat for less at all. You don't have to give up restaurant dining to eat at a reasonable cost.

This is a guest post by Buck$ome, a baby boomer trying to make the most of her money while saving for retirement. Read more about her Buck$ome Boomer's Journey to Retirement. Subscribe to her RSS feed to follow new posts.

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