Eating Out can definitely take a toll on a budget, but sometimes dining out can be the best option especially if you are traveling or need a break from the kitchen!
Before I kept track of my expenses, dining out definitely took out a very large chunk of the budget and it was the easiest (and hardest) to cut when I started to save (more) money.
However, just because eating out can be expensive doesn’t mean it has to be. Here’s a few tips and tricks to save money while eating out without breaking the bank.
1. Enjoy Early Bird and “Happy Hour” Specials: Many restaurants will have various specials and deals, especially during off-peak times. Make sure to check out Boston on Budget’s Cheap Eats page to find restaurant specials every day of the week from $2 burgers, $1 tacos, and much more during off peak times and more!
2. Find deals through Daily Deal Sites: Daily Deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are great resources to find restaurants deals on your next visit. The offer will vary depending on the restaurant itself, but it’s a great way to save a little money at local gems. Make sure to read all the terms though because some dining deals may have some restrictions like no weekend dining, certain menu items, and more.
3. Check out Restaurant.com for local restaurant deals: Restaurant.com is a great source to find dining vouchers for $25 for $10, $15 for $6 or $10 for $4. Also look for Restaurant.com promo codes to save even more money on the vouchers! You usually need to spend a certain amount at a restaurant and there may be some restrictions but it depends on the restaurant itself. However, Restaurant.com is an easy to use site and you can always switch restaurant vouchers if the restaurant goes under or you change your mind. (Tip: Make sure your birthday info is on your account because you will receive a free $10 gift card for your birthday!)
4. Use restaurant coupons on your bill: Many local and national restaurants will offer coupons and they can be found in the paper, the mail or online. For a huge list of printable coupons for restaurant chains, please head here. Also, some restaurants and third-party sites will give you a coupon for just getting started. For example, Grub Hub will give you $7 off for signing up when you a referred through a friend.
5. Sign up for loyalty clubs: Signing up for loyalty clubs is a great way to find specials and offers from your favorite restaurants. Many restaurants offer a loyalty or e-mail club and they will e-mail specials and promotions right to your mailbox. Even better, some restaurants will thank you with a coupon and/or a birthday meal when you sign up. Bar Louie, Boston Beer Works, Solas, The Chateau, and Not Your Average Joes are just a few local places that have special offers for e-mail club and/or loyalty club.
6. Split the meal: If you are familiar with the portions at a restaurant and they are quite large, you may want to consider splitting a meal with a friend, if possible. Also, consider ordering a few appetizers instead of a full meal and splitting them between the table. Dine at establishments that offer half off appetizers and look for items like wings, sliders, and chicken fingers that can be just as filling and delicious as a full entrée.
7. Dine at the bar: Sometimes bars will have a different menu or specials at the bar and dining at the bar can be a great way to save money. Also, a lot of happy hour specials and deals mentioned on the Cheap Eats in Boston page need to happen at the bar, so grab a bar stool at a restaurant instead to find better deals.
8. Buy an Entertainment Book: The Greater Boston Entertainment Book has may coupons to restaurants, attractions, retailers and more and does come with a price tag ($10-$30 depending on the sale). However, there are a lot of coupons for restaurants, bars, fast food, and more that can help save money over the course of the year.
9. Take advantage of rewards: Takeout delivery app Foodler offers users to earn points to put towards future purchases as well as other sites and applications. Also, credit cards are also a great way to earn rewards by receiving cash back and bonuses on your restaurant purchases. It’s always great to get a little something back in the future for your food purchases!
These are just a few ways I try to save money eating out in the Greater Boston area and can be applied to anywhere– even on vacation!
When possible, I like to pick the restaurant because I can control what deal to take advantage of and the best way to save money. However, when dining out with friends for a birthday or another occasion it is not always possible.
To help save money, I like to go on the restaurant’s website beforehand and to see if there are any saving opportunities. If not, at the very least, I will look at the menu and try to figure out the cost and what I may order beforehand to get a rough idea of the experience.
Do you have any tips to save money while dining out?
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