Even when times are tough, many people love to treat themselves and their family to a meal or two out each week. You can still afford to do this, on a budget, if you keep a few simple things in mind. There are things anyone can do and a few extra things to keep in mind if you dine out with kids.
GENERAL SAVINGS TIPS
Stick with Deal Sites. There are many sites such as GroupOn, Restaurant.com and more, which offer savings when dining out. These are a great way to eat out for less. There is only one hard and fast rule when you redeem these coupons — always tip on your pre-coupon total. So, if your total is $25 and you have a $10 off coupon, your tip should be based upon $25 worth of food and not only $15!
Share your meal. This is not only a great way to save money, it can also help your waistline too! By splitting a meal, you can quickly save money on your order. Keep in mind that some restaurants may charge a split plate fee, but that is always less than the cost of an additional entree.
Don’t Forget to Check In / Use Apps. Some restaurants are on social apps, such as Four Square. When you check in, an instant coupon might pop up on your phone, which you can show to your cashier to save instantly! There are other restaurants which offer mobile coupons via Twitter, Facebook, etc. So make sure that you have those apps loaded and check them out too!
Skip the special drinks. Beverages can quickly add up and run up the total of your bill. By opting to just drink water, it is very easy to save quite a bit – as the average cost for a glass of soda is $1.99. So, for a family of 4 that is an instant $8 savings!
Use Coupons. Many restaurant chains offer coupons which are sent to email subscribers, offered on their website or even on their Facebook page. It is a good idea to follow/sign up for those where you normally dine out so that you don’t miss any of them. You can also check our Dining Out category on this site, where you can also find links to many printable coupons (make sure you check the site around 5 pm every Friday night for a great roundup)!!
Opt out of the extras. Don’t order the appetizer or the dessert. In most cases, you will end up just consuming more calories then you probably will want to. Instead ask for some crackers if you are hungry before your meal comes and then just open the ice cream in the freezer when you get home!
SAVINGS TIPS WHEN DINING OUT WITH KIDS
You can use many of the above tips when dining out with your children too. Here are a couple of extra things to keep in mind:
Dine where kids eat free. Many restaurants have special evenings where kids can eat free. You will need to read the fine print to know how many kids will eat for free and what purchase is required (in most cases, it is one kid eats free with one adult entree). Sometimes a coupon is required, so make sure you follow your favorite restaurants on Facebook, etc so you never miss a deal!
Price check the menu. Sometimes, a kids meal can be more expensive than ordering something a la carte. If your kids meal is $5.99 and an a la carte hamburger is only $1.99, you can quickly save some money! Sure, you may not get the fancy flag or toy with the meal, but it just shows that you do really pay for those extras.
No matter when you dine out, you can absolutely save money. It just sometimes requires planning around the coupon or deal to ensure you pay as little as possible — and allow someone else to do the dishes!!