I'm a huge fan of eating out! I love to eat! But it can get expensive very quickly. In fact, I probably spend most of my discretionary budget on groceries and dining. Here are some helpful tips for eating out!
Avoid Convenience Stores or Other High Mark-Ups
Road trips can make you hungry. So can just being out and about all day. However, if you have to eat on the run, avoid eating at convenience stores, gas stations, or similar places. The reason? They mark up their food huge to make a profit. Most of these stores depend on their convenience food business to make a profit, since they usually sell gas or other loss-leading commodities. As a result, that food is going to cost a bunch more, and usually be pretty unhealthy for you.
Need to eat on the run? Look for a national chain. Besides being cheaper, most do offer healthier alternatives.
Coupons are becoming all the rave! With shows like Extreme Couponing, many people are starting to catch on. While many use coupons for groceries, many restaurants offer them as well. If you check your local paper, or even in the “junk mail” that comes every day, you can usually find coupons to local restaurants, or even nationwide chains.
These coupons can offer great savings – discounts, 2-for-1 deals, and even free items. If you were on the fence about going to that new place, maybe a coupon will make up your mind! And once you figure out how to save money using coupons, you'll realize how easy it really is.
Use Groupon/Living Social Deals
A lot of places, including food places, are using Groupon or Living Social to promote themselves. If you haven't signed up for these sites yet, I highly recommend it. You can find some great deals on restaurants that can be worth up to around 40% off! That is a huge savings!
Similar to these sites for restaurants is Restaurant.com. This site partners with tons of restaurants, and you can usually find great coupons and deals on the site. You essentially buy a giftcard, but you can save a ton of money by doing so.
Readers, what other tips and tricks do you have for saving money while eating out?