Eating out can be pretty pricey these days, especially if you have kids. Here are a few ways to make dining out a bit more affordable.
1. Use coupons. Before you head out to your favorite restaurant, take a few minutes to see if you can find a coupon. One place you can look is your favorite Living on the Cheap site. Many of the sites have search engines, so you can punch in the name of your restaurant and find out almost instantly if there’s a coupon available. Another good way to find restaurant coupons is to do a Google search. For example, if you’re planning to dine out at T.G.I. Fridays, search for “T.G.I. Friday’s coupons.” You might be surprised what pops up.
Your city’s visitors bureau is another good place to look for restaurant coupons. Many visitors associations post coupon links for local restaurants on their websites.
A lot of restaurants offer exclusive coupons and discounts to people who sign up for their e-mail clubs or “like” them on Facebook. Some also offer coupons on their websites. Start with the restaurant’s website, then look for an e-mail club sign-up and a Facebook link.
2. Ask about happy hour specials. Happy hour is a great way to get cheap food and drinks. But make sure you ask about happy hour deals before you’re seated. Many restaurants limit happy hour specials to patrons who are sitting in the bar area.
3. Dine at restaurants that offer free kids’ meals. Out to Eat with Kids is a great resource for finding “kids eat free” deals. If you’re not picky about what day of the week you eat out, you’ll have the most options to choose from on Tuesdays.
4. Check for discounted dining certificates at Restaurant.com. The regular price is $10 for a dining certificate worth $25. But you rarely need to pay regular price, because those certificate are often on sale for 50% off (or $5). Make sure you read the fine print, because most restaurants have some restrictions on how you can use the certificates.
If you dine out a lot, you can earn free meals through membership in Open Table.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for saving money on restaurant meals?
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