Money

Day 10: Eat Out for Less

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This post is part of the 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses series. Visit this page for even more ways to slash costs and eliminate unnecessary spending! 

As restaurants increase food prices, it's hardly worth going out for ANY meal, but these 6 smart ideas make eating out on a budget actually WORK!

Probably my number one spending downfall (besides buying more books than I could possibly read in a lifetime!) is eating out. Whether it’s a Sunday lunch after church or a quick bite to eat while running errands, both Joseph I love a chance to get out of the house and have someone else do the cooking for us!

But restaurants (even fast food ones) are getting super expensive these days, and it’s just not practical to sacrifice your entire food budget for the sake of convenience. Plus, it’s not always the healthiest kind of food either.

While I would hate to give up our love for restaurants indefinitely, there are some really smart ways to make eating at home a more enjoyable chore, and eating out practically a steal. Want a peek into my secrets? Here are 6 ways to reduce your eating out expense for good!

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How to Eat Out for Less:

1. Make Meals You Actually Like – So many times I want to eat out because I simply don’t like any of the meals we’ve been making at home, or they’ve become too boring. Switch up your meal plan and try some new and exciting dishes that help you enjoy being in the kitchen again, or experiment with a few of your favorite restaurant meals at home using a copycat recipe. There are hundreds of them all over Pinterest!

2. Don’t Leave Without Coupons – One of our latest eating out “rules” is that when we do set aside the money for a special night out, we have to use a coupon. I’m subscribed to a ton of restaurant email lists to score all those birthday freebies, so I always have a wide range of weekly coupons to choose from. If you’re like me and never remember to take your printed coupons, pull up the coupon on your phone and show it to the waiter or cashier.

Groupon is also a great place to find coupons for newer restaurants. They actually just released a new restaurant directory called, Pages, which includes basic information for each restaurant in your area, along with reviews, the best dishes to order, and any deals that are currently available. For example, I found this nearby Italian Restaurant, Bianca’s Ristorante, which is offering $30 worth of food for just $18!

biancas-restaurant

3. Order Waters – Joseph used to work in the restaurant industry, and it is insane how much of a killing eating establishments make on drinks, especially soda. What is essentially pennies for some syrup and carbonation translates into $2-$4 on your bill, not including refills! Water is such an easy replacement and doesn’t cost a thing. Plus, you’ll be better off health-wise too.

4. Split a Meal – Food portions these days are HUGE, and while we will often take leftovers home with us for tomorrow’s lunch, we often find we can get along just fine with splitting a meal between the two of us.

5. Collect or Request Gift Cards – It never ever hurts to ask for gift cards to favorite restaurants as a request for Christmas, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc. I know I don’t mind! It’s always nice to go out to eat on someone else’s dime — just make sure to tip on the full amount of your meals, not the remaining balance on the restaurant receipt. You can also buy gift cards for yourself during Holiday promos {Buy a $25 GC, get an extra $5 for free}, or purchase from Restaurant.com, where you can receive discounts up to 80% off.

6. Buy a City Savings Book – If you have school-age kids or know someone who does, ask if they ever sell coupon books for all sorts of city savings. Local restaurants pay to advertise in these books and offer coupons, while the books make a great fundraising effort for schools. It’s a great way to try new restaurants for less!

Today’s Challenge:

If you enjoy eating out as much as we do, put yourself on a restaurant spending freeze for the rest of the month, then commit to eating out only when you have a coupon {just don’t do it ALL the time!} Leave YOUR best tips for saving money while eating out in the comments below, or tweet @KalynBr00ke using the hashtag #ReduceYourExpenses!

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5 Comments

  1. We like eating out too, but have learned to request gift cards from our far away family for birthdays & Christmas. They save on postage and we get a nice meal out – without extra things in our house, too! And yes, we use coupons to make those gift cards last!

  2. It’s not truly eating out, but sometimes it is enough to buy convenience foods at the grocery store. When on a trip, stopping at a grocery store for lunch and buying deli fruit cups, store-brand sliced cheese, and saltine crackers makes for a cheap lunch. Also, Sam’s Club used to have SUPER CHEAP pizza. Our family of five could eat for about $8.

    1. Great idea! And yes, Sam’s Club pizza is so incredibly cheap, and doesn’t taste too bad either!

  3. Eating out is my down fall. I sign up for email alerts from my favorite restaurants so when we do eat out we save some money or get a free appetizer! My husband knows if I’m recommending dinner out its because I have a coupon!

  4. And if you have kids, a lot of restaurants have kids eat free/cheap nights. And some fancy restaurants have happy hour food specials.

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