Thursday, February 25, 2016

How To Eat Out For Less

Over the many years of our marriage, Hubby and I have eaten out many, many times. As we have aged, we eat out even less than we used to. The main reason for this is that most restaurant meals are not very healthy. Many restaurants load their sauces up with butter to add to the flavor. We also believe that our kitchen is cleaner than most restaurants and we know that our hands are clean when we prepare food at home.

That said over these years we have learned how to eat out for less. So today I will be  sharing some of them with you.

When we know that we are going out to eat at a restaurant, the first thing we do is look at the menu online. We can see if there are any specials on certain nights that might be a good deal. We also look online to see if we can buy a discounted gift card to that restaurant by using one of the gift card purchasing sites like Raise or Gift Card Granny. We look to see if there are any promo codes to make that gift card purchase even cheaper. We also keep an eye on Ebay and Amazon for discounted gift cards. Many times in December you can find gift card deals with bonus gift cards on the deal like I did.  We also look for any coupons to defray the cost at that restaurant. And since we are seniors, many restaurants will give you a discount or give you a card to  get a discount every time you frequent their restaurant. 

I love Applebees. As an example we purchased $100. worth of gift cards and got $20. worth as a bonus. Hubby and I each belong to their Golden Apple Club so we get 10% off our entrees every time we eat there. So it is a win- win. If you order To Go, you can skip the tip and have your drink or beer at home.

When we eat out, Hubby and I usually each enjoy 1 draft beer. Many times the draft beers are two for one so we only pay for one of the beers. Always watch for these kind of deals. If Hubby and I don't want a beer on that day, we will just each order a glass of water.

When we get to a restaurant, we always look for a menu board as you first enter. It usually lists the specials of the day and they can be great bargains. If there are any drink specials, they will usually be listed also. When the waiter or waitress comes to the table, always ask them if there are any specials that are not on the menu board.

So many restaurants entree portions these days are huge and are more than Hubby and I can eat. So if we are not real hungry, we will order appetizers for a lot less than entrees cost. Some restaurants will let you share a meal. But if we do order entrees, we always bring about half of it home for dinner the next night. 

Many of the restaurants we go to have a night where appetizers are served free at the bar. So it is a good time to buy a drink and enjoy their food offerings. 

If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary be sure to let the server know. Most places will give you a free dessert. It is always enough for Hubby and I to share. 

If you have children, go out to eat when your restaurant is having a kids eat free night. When it isn't free, ask for a kids menu because the meals are cheaper.

We like to eat out at breakfast once in a while because it is so much cheaper than eating out for dinner. We also do lunch rather than dinner many times. If you can swing the time, go when there are early bird specials. You will spend a lot less. 

If you want to save on fast food take out whether it be Subway or Mc Donalds, make a point of going only when coupons are available or when Subway is having a deal of the month like all classic subs are $6.00. If you have a reward card which gives you points every time you get food there, check to see if you have enough points to pay for the sub. When Hubby and I score a free sub, we split it for lunch.
Last month when I treated my grandson and us to McDonalds, I got a survey coupon on my receipt. I did the survey and two weeks later I picked up 6 free chicken McNuggets for lunch. We cut them up on a salad and added the 2 ranch dressings they gave us. Many times we just order off the $1.00 menus at the fast food restaurants.

Coffee I can't tell you about because I think we have purchased coffee at a coffee shop maybe twice since we got married. We drink our coffee at home or bring it with us in the car.

If we buy bagels at some place like Bruegger's or Manhattan Bagels, we make sure we have a coupon for buy 1/2 dozen, get 1/2 dozen free. We also like those kind of coupons when Dunkin Donuts offers  them.   

If you order pizza from some place like Domino's or Pizza Hut, use a money saving coupon or ask them if them if they have a deal that day. We have never ordered a pizza from a place like this since we came back 6 years ago to the NE. We usually have homemade pizza or on sale frozen pizzas using a coupon, that we keep stockpiled in the freezer. But perhaps sometime, we will call for a delivery in the future.

If your family goes out more than we do, buy an Entertainment Book for your area or sometimes your town or city will have their own local book. The coupons in these books save you up to  50%. 

But the most important thing to do to save money is to sign up online at your favorite places to eat. Many will send you coupons or deals. Always sign up for their birthday clubs if they have them. We have scored many a free entree that way.

We always keep our restaurant menus that we have collected and any coupons in a file folder that we can quickly look through.

Bon Appetit!  

P.S. I almost forgot to tell you that we are having leftovers of the turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy and broccoli for dinner tonight. So after we eat we will be up to two meals for each us from the turkey. 

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