Sunday, November 23, 2008

5 Ways to Save Money When Eating Out

Sharing this great article from Mommy Making Money

Image courtesy of Adelle L

I don't know about you, but every month we start with good intentions to not eat out and save money by sticking to the meal plan. And then, inevitably, we break down mid-month and go out to eat on a weekend, sometimes more than once. Other families I know approach it differently--they plan to eat out--fully admitting that it's part of the monthly budget and budgeting for it. Either way, there are several strategies you can use to save some money:

1) Utilize Kids Eat Free programs. You probably frequent the "family friendly" restaurants anyway, so find out what their offers are. One of my favorites is Lone Star Steakhouse, where kids eat free all day on Tuesday, plus you can get 2 kids' meals free for each adult entree (important when the kids outnumber the adults, as in our family). For a list of Kids Eat Free programs, see this list at Money Saving Mom (note--the list is from June, so verify by calling your local restaurant).

2) Sign up for restaurant emails and offers. By joining the email lists of your favorite restaurants, you can get coupons through email or regular mail. For example, when you sign up at Johnny Rockets, you get a coupon via email for a free hamburger with purchase. Go to the websites of your favorite restaurants to join their E-clubs. You can also join Birthday Clubs for free meals on your (and each family member's) birthday. CPK does this for kids age 10 and under; you can sign up on their website at Often, these coupons are good for a full month, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the savings. You'll find a comprehensive list of birthday freebies at Freebies 4 Mom.

3) Order takeout. Yes, you'll have to clean up after yourselves, but you'll save money by serving your own drinks and keeping the tip. At home, I can also serve extra veggies for the kids to add more nutrition. We can eat Chinese food takeout for $20-23 (and have plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day) versus the $30-$40 we'd spend going out to eat at a restaurant.

4) Take advantage of gift card deals. With the holidays coming, many restaurants are offering an extra $5 when you purchase a $25 gift card, like Friendly's, Moe's Southwest Grill and TGIFriday's. There are also higher amount ($100) deals running at Outback Steakhouse and California Pizza Kitchen. Of course, these promos are only useful to you if you eat at these restaurants and don't end up misplacing your gift cards.

5) Don't take the kids! This is my latest creative solution; we feed the kids at home, then head out for a late dinner without them. Not only do we save money buying three less meals, but we can enjoy our (hot) meal slowly and without interruptions. We've even combined tips 3 and 5 by bringing home Outback Steakhouse takeout after the kids go to bed.

1 comment:

  1. A great resource for Kids Eat FREE restautants is


I'd love to hear your comments!!