Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eatin' Out On The Cheap

August 12 2008

Just because I'm cheap doesn't mean I don't eat out. There are some really good deals out there - sometimes cheaper than eating at home. If you have a free neighborhood paper in your area this is a good place to start. Local restaurants will likely post coupons in these papers as well as in mailings you probably receive such as ValPak, Money Mailer etc. Also check to see if your favorite restaurant has a website as many have coupons you can print off. Another thing to look for is if they have a "Birthday Club" or a Mailing/Email list as coupons are likely sent out from these as well.

You might want to check out http://www.restaurant.com/ to see what restaurants are offering deals in your area. They sell "Gift Certificates" at discounted prices. For example they currently offer $10 certificates for $3, $25 certificates for $10 and $50 certificates for $20. You purchase the certificate, print it off and give it to your server. Be sure to check the exclusions for your particular restaurant, most have a minimum purchase and may limit it to week days only etc. The BEST deal is when restaurant.com runs a sale, which they recently did. I was able to purchase four $25 Gift Certificates for $2 each. That's $100 in food for $8. (SCORE! )

Always check with any clubs, groups you belong to or possibly even your job to see if they offer any discounts to not only restaurants but other things as well. I think you'll be surprised. I recently discovered Visa offers discounts for certain purchases made through their website http://www.lifetakesvisa.com/ . Look under "deal finder" and you'll find discounts on all kinds of things. Had I known this sooner my Restaurant.com deal would have been another 20% off. I hear American Express and AAA have similar deals.

The Entertainment Book is another good source if they offer a decent selection of places in your area (you can check on their website). The books go half price mid year but you can often find people selling them discounted year round. I suggest setting up a swap trading the coupons you don't want for ones you can use. http://www.craigslist.org/ is a good place to try this as well as look for people selling/trading restaurant (and other) gift cards, coupons and even food itself.

Of course, if you don't mind eating at the "Senior Hour" you'll usually find it cheaper eating off the lunch menu which can run as late as 4pm at some places. Buffets are best because they pretty much offer the same food at lunch as they do for dinner for much less money and you'll be so full you won't be hungry again later. Also look for mid day deals with places such as Pizza restaurants as many of them will offer cheap pizzas during their slow times. You can always take it home and reheat it for dinner, or eat it cold - yummmm.

Other tips:

  • Only drink water - beverages in restaurants have a HUGE mark-up and definately add to your final tally.
  • Think about ordering your meal to go, that way you avoid paying the tip.
  • Don't order dessert...okay, at least split a dessert with someone else.

    - So what are you waiting for? Put your eatin' pants on!

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