How to Dine Out on a Budget

Edna B. Shearer

Eating out is part of our daily or weekly rituals. It’s a time to get away with friends and family for a few hours to enjoy the food and each other’s company. It can be one of the largest discretionary spending items that can get the axe when you are pinching pennies. Here are a few ways you can enjoy eating out without spending so much.

How to Get FREE Food:

Sign up for emails and newsletters at your favorite restaurants. Many restaurants offer coupons, certificates for specific dollar amounts or free meals to enjoy on your birthday. You can sign up at Starbucks for free coffee, Haagen Daz for free ice cream or Boston Market for a special treat. Many other places offer club cards that you can register online for special birthday and anniversary rewards.

How to Get FREE Food for Kids:

Are you tired of spending money on food that your kid only touches a few pieces? Consider getting a dish that comes with a side order that your kid can choose. How about a free meal for your kid? Look for restaurants that offer kids meal deals and kids eat free with a purchase of an adult meal on a specific day of the week. You can also sign up at your favorite restaurants in advance so you know what is available in your area before heading out the door.

How to Get Deep Discounts:

Sign up with deal sites where you can save up to 50% or 80% on your meals. There are so many deal sites out there but the most popular one is Groupon. It is free to join and they offer a new deal everyday. You can purchase a Groupon for $30 for $60 worth of meal at a participating restaurant.

Getting More Time with the Family:

Cooking doesn’t come easily to a lot of people. No matter what type of cooking show you watch on TV, most of the recipes require more than 5 or more ingredients. That means, you have to spend time shopping at groceries, supermarkets and produce markets a few hours a week. By the time all the shopping is done, you’ll likely spend another hour cooking a meal for you and your family. Unless you are the type to whip out a dish in less than thirty minutes, eating out can be an alternative way to spend more time with your family.

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