Eating at home is usually cheaper than eating out, but you can still save money when going out to your favorite restaurants. Get the LOZO on how to save on fast food, and even get discounts on gourmet dining.
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- Lock in year-round savings at Restaurant.com
One of our more popular tips is how to be a smart Restaurant.com shopper. We recommend not paying the prices listed on the site, but instead using a coupon code for 60%, 70%, 80% or even 90% off and stocking up when there is a great offer.
- ALWAYS try to use coupons when dining out - hunt them down
Restaurant coupons can be found everywhere: online, in newspapers, in the mail. Focus on going to restaurants where you have coupons; you might find some new favorite places this way. If don't already have a coupon in hand, before you go out do an [...]
- Join the frequent diner club
Restaurants love to encourage repeat business. Many now have loyalty clubs or cards, where you get points for each dollar you spend, or a stamp each time you order a certain drink or sandwich. These clubs are almost always free, and the bonuses [...]
- Pick up discounted gift certificates to your favorite restaurants
One popular promotion for restaurants, especially around holiday time, is to offer a discount or bonus on gift certificates you buy in advance. For example, you might pay $20 and receive a $25 gift certificate. For restaurants where you eat [...]
- Be a smart Restaurant.com shopper
Restaurant.com is a popular site for buying restaurant gift certificates at a big discount. You may have seen their ads, or been offered a "free $25 restaurant certificate" as part of another offer. This can be a great site for discounts, as long as [...]
- Get the Entertainment Book to dine 2-for-1
The Entertainment Book is full of buy-one-get-one-free or 50% off restaurant deals. They have coupons for everything from fine dining to fast food (along with plenty of non-restaurant offers as well). Check their site to see what's available in your [...]
- Sign up for Idine to get 5-20% cash back from restaurants
Join the Idine program and get cash back every time you dine at one of their participating restaurants. You register your credit cards in advance, so you don't need to show a coupon or ID card when you are there. In fact, the restaurant will have no [...]
- Get a free reservation with a discount on the side
Both Dinnerbroker.com and Opentable.com are great places to start when looking for nicer, non-chain restaurants. Not only can you make an easy reservation through these free services, but you can also see which locations are offering a discount, [...]
- Order from the bargain menu
Most restaurants offer some kind of dining-out deal, especially the popular chains. They might have certain entrees at a discount, or a bundle price that includes soup/salad and a drink. Always check these options first, since you might find [...]
- Look at set menus or prix fixe - they can be cheaper than a la carte
In some restaurants the prix fixe menu or combo meals can provide much better value than ordering the same dishes a la carte. Check if these are offered, and compare the deal to buying the items on their own.
- Look for grand opening specials
New restaurants need business, and one of the easiest ways is by having grand opening celebrations, with lots of discounts. Keep your eyes open for new restaurants and ask what their specials are.
- Look for restaurants that offer free kids meals or senior discounts
Many restaurants, especially family-style places, offer special discounts for kids under 12, and seniors over 55. Some restaurants even have special nights where kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entrée. Do some research before heading [...]
- Dine during off-peak hours for extra discounts
Most restaurants are busiest on the weekends, and also tend to be the most expensive then. Look for specials for certain days of the week. For example, Texas Roadhouse offers a selection of $7.99 dinners Mondays though Thursdays. For big chains you [...]
- Go out during Happy Hour or eat at the bar
Many restaurants have half-priced snacks and drinks during their Happy Hours. Go during these times and fill up on appetizers. Also, see if food is cheaper at the bar. If so, place your orders there to get the same meal for less. TGI Friday's [...]
- Team up on the extras that come with your meals, and save everyone some dough
If you're dining in a group, and some of the meals come with extras like soup or salad, a drink, and dessert, it's time to team up. Match up the extras with the people who were going to order them separately anyway, so you avoid extra charges. For [...]
- Share food so you both save dough
Sharing food is great when dining out. Instead of ordering two main meals, order a few appetizers and share, or, order one appetizer and one main meal to share. This way you both get to try more things, and it will be cheaper, too.
- Stick with water at every meal
Drinks, especially sodas and alcoholic beverages, are huge money-makers for restaurants. If you want to stretch your dining out budget, just order water to drink (be sure to ask for tap water so you don't have to pay a premium for bottled water). [...]
- Eat dessert at home
Most restaurant desserts are generally overpriced. Make it a habit for yourself, and for all of your family meals, that you can celebrate with dessert at home after the meal. Pick up some ice cream at the grocery store, or cook up some baked goods [...]
- Leftovers = free meals
Leftovers don't have to be gross or boring, and it doesn't have to mean just reheating the same old stuff. When cooking, make extra white or brown rice, then turn the leftovers into a rice salad the next day with some added fresh ingredients. Turn [...]
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