How I eat out on the thrift

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Before I go any further, it’s estimated that you can save around $1,000 a year by bringing your lunch to work everyday instead of eating out. That said, there are times when you just want a break from the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Here’s a few things I do to save on eating out:

  • Plan ahead. I will scope the coupons of a particular restaurant or fast-food joint to see if I can take advantage of any coupons being offered. There are some great coupons out there you can find by getting a local Happenings book or checking your Sunday paper. Other avenues of finding coupons can be found online at couponcabin, or retailmenot.
  • Check out the website. Check out the chosen establishments website and see if they have a “specials” page or if they are offering any type of deal for signing up to receive their e-newsletter. Oftentimes I have found by signing up for their e-news, they offer a 2 for 1 meal.
  • Skip the beverage. There are many pluses for not ordering a pop/soda with your meal. Among them: water is better for you and it will save you some coin.
  • Share. A lot of restaurants offer huge portion sizes to accommodate the American belly. You could probably get by with ordering one meal and share it with a friend or significant other.
  • Take the receipt. Make sure you take your receipt from the cashier. Oftentimes they will include a phone number or website where you can give feedback for your service/meal. Typically they will reimburse you with a code for some money off your next visit.
  • Frequent visitor rewards. Many restaurants offer a frequent visitor program where they’ll give you a card and for each visit, you can get a stamp/punch which will eventually earn you a free meal. Take advantage of this.
  • Tipping. A quick word on tipping. Don’t be a cheap tipper. 15-20% is considered fair and reasonable. And, remember to tip on the total price of the food excluding tax – not the full amount on the receipt. I did the full amount for years, until a sibling alerted me to my folly.

Hope that helps keep a few more bucks in your pocket! How else do you save on eating out?

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