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Blogging for Change Blogging For Change
by sitecore\kmcgrigg on March 29, 2011

Note: This post was written by Tony Scataglia, senior vice president of agency services for Money Management International.

Eating out at a favorite restaurant is a traditional family activity for families everywhere. Whether it’s visiting an old favorite or trying out a new place, eating out is something families can look forward to as a real treat and an opportunity to get out of the house and break from the weekly routine. Dining out is also one of the first areas discussed when it comes time to tighten the budget – and one of the first to get the proverbial axe.

Brown bagging lunches and eating more meals at home will certainly help save money. However, it doesn’t mean you have to completely give up this opportunity to spend quality time together and experience new things.

Eating out is an escape that can make sense – and “cents” – if you spend a little time looking for discounts before heading out for that weekend dinner with the family. Why not allow yourself and your family a few escapes from the budget-cutting grind to enjoy what you’ve worked hard for while maintaining the overall budget.

The question: How do you accomplish this without breaking that budget you’ve worked so hard to develop? The answer: Look for deals and don’t be afraid to ask for discounts.

Utilize coupons

My family really enjoys eating out on Saturday nights when we have the time, and we nearly always have a coupon on hand when we do. For example, our favorite local Mexican restaurant offers a $5 discount coupon on their website for anyone to print out and use. It’s as simple as printing one off before heading out. They also have kid’s specials on the weekend to further reduce the cost of eating out.

Many of your local restaurants likely do the same. Pick out some of your favorites and search their websites as a start. Check the back of your local grocery store receipts – many feature discount coupons from local eateries. And take some time to look through that “junk” mail. Many restaurants send direct mail coupons out to their local areas.

If all else fails and you can’t find coupons for your favorite local restaurant, don’t be afraid to tear out and present a competitor’s coupon. Ask the proprietor if they will honor it … I think you’ll be surprised at how many will do so.

Search the Web

Other sources of dine-out discounts include popular websites that offer online pre-purchases on dining coupons. These sites include: Livingsocial.com, Groupon.com and DealOn.com – among many others. As an example, you can purchase $20 of restaurant credit for $10 with popular restaurants in your area. In addition, many travel and credit card rewards programs offer pretty good deals if you trade in your points for restaurant gift certificates.

Hungry for more frugal food ideas? Download our free eBook: Cheap Eats.

Comment(s)

20 and Engaged says:
March 29, 2011
Website: http://20andengaged.com

I find that using coupons is an awesome way to eat out with the family. And at a lot of places, kids eat free, so definitely utilize those days.



Ann says:
March 31, 2011

We save a great deal if we don't order soda when we eat out. If this is a problem, take it home and drink soda that you have purchased at the grocery store. We also do cost comparison even at fast foods. Large order of fries are shared and 2 (.99 cent) sandwiches are cheaper than one big chicken sandwich for the teenage son.



Chris says:
March 31, 2011

I totally agree that there are plenty of coupons out there if you just look. I couldn’t find a coupon for my favorite restaurant so decided to ask if they used them and, if so, where they may be found. The hostess told me exactly where to look and I have been saving ever since!



Christa says:
March 31, 2011
Website: www.simplylovedgifts.com

My husband and I started picking the kids, ages 7 & 8, up from school twice a week to do lunch together at Subway. He works the mid-shift, so is asleep when they leave for school, then not home until around midnight, so we needed to get creative to get them more quality time with dad during school weeks. I called the Subway near the school and asked if they minded if two of us brown bagged it while we got one Subway sandwich and they didn't mind. In addition, they allowed us the Tuesday bogo typically reserved for the high school students. So each time a different person - mom, dad or one of the girls - gets the treat of a Subway sandwich, while the others brown bag it. It's been a cool, nutritious, fun way for us to do lunch "out" together, get family time and typically costs we between $8 - $10 for a substantial lunch for the four of us! :)



Christa Mason says:
March 31, 2011
Website: www.simplylovedgifts.com

My husband and I started picking the kids, ages 7 & 8, up from school twice a week to do lunch together at Subway. He works the mid-shift, so is asleep when they leave for school, then not home until around midnight, so we needed to get creative to get them more quality time with dad during school weeks. I called the Subway near the school and asked if they minded if two of us brown bagged it while we got one Subway sandwich and they didn't mind. In addition, they allowed us the Tuesday bogo typically reserved for the high school students. So each time a different person - mom, dad or one of the girls - gets the treat of a Subway sandwich, while the others brown bag it. It's been a cool, nutritious, fun way for us to do lunch "out" together, get family time and typically costs we between $8 - $10 for a substantial lunch for the four of us! :)



Debbie says:
March 31, 2011

Another great way to save money at restaurants is to drink water instead of expensive beverages. These days a simple glass of soda can be as much as $2.50 per person!



Emily says:
April 01, 2011
Website: http://more-retirement-income.com/saving-for-retirement

If you're paying full price at a mid-price restaurant, you're not trying hard enough.



Gayla Baechtold says:
February 19, 2015
Website: moneymanagement.org

The portions at restaurants have gotten so large, that my husband and I share a meal. Some restaurant may charge a small fee to split, but it is still much cheaper than ordering two entrees. We also drink water and that helps reduce it even more!



Hunter says:
March 31, 2011
Website: http://financiallyconsumed.com/wordpress/

We like to occasionally order take-out from a great Thai restaurant and then eat at the waterfront. It saves on a tip, and expensive drinks. Of course this is weather dependent.



KKacz says:
March 31, 2011

Yes, we like to eat out now and again and also found savings by purchasing a Gold C coupon book that helped a local charity and provided many local resturaunt savings opportunities.



Michal says:
April 06, 2011
Website: www.phonereviewsplus.com

Eating out is so expensive and more of a luxury these days. Thanks for the great tips!



Sandy Truitt says:
March 31, 2011

You must have missed the TV question, where guys who were dating girls were asked if they would use a coupons on the first date! The comments were interesting. I find it in bad taste, and would wonder about that person. After all, aren't we both trying to impress each other, and using a coupon, to me does not show much class. But if course, I don't date much being older and am glad I don't have to impress.



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