10 Ways Thrifty Families Eat Out For Less

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In an average week my family eats out once and it usually costs around $20 to $25 for all five of us.

10 Ways Thrifty Families Eat Out For LessMost places we eat have a drive thru window attached. Perhaps once a season we splurge on a dinner out where the servers come to us and the food is served on real plates.

Whether the establishment be fast food or sit down, we have discovered a few tips to keep our cost of eating out as low as possible.

10 Ways Thrifty People Eat Out For Less

1. Dollar menus

A regular eat out dinner night for us is five $1 menu burgers with 3 large fries to share; we bring it home to eat together around the dinner table.

2. Waters in or pop at home

Pop isn’t a daily occurrence at our house, but I do pick up 2 liter bottles when they go on sale for $1 each for our takeout night. If  we are eating at the restaurant then generally we get pops with our meal if its fast food. If it is a sit down place where soda is $2 or more each, our family gets water.

3.  Restaurant Email Lists

Most restaurants have websites and on them you will find an area to sign up for their email list. I have found that signing up for our favorite restaurants’ email lists has always been worth it as they tend to send out great coupons on a regular basis.

Don’t forget about the free birthday food clubs too! Those make celebrating the birthday person on their big day a lot easier on the wallet.

4. Share entrees

My husband and I share the fajita platter at our favorite Mexican restaurant almost every time we go there for a date. It is the single platter but even with the two of us eating it together we still bring leftovers home {this might have something to do with the amazing chips and salsa we chow down on when we first arrive}.

Many restaurants serve huge entrees that can easily be shared and the servers never seem to mind bringing out an extra plate {reminder: don’t be cheap, be thrifty; if you shared an entree you still tip like you both ate an entree}.

5. Discount gift cards

If your family eats regularly at a larger chain restaurant you should consider checking Cardpool for a discounted gift card.

For instance, when I wrote this piece Cardpool had Applebee’s gift cards for 21% off–meaning a $25 gift cost just $19.75, saving you $4.25 on your meal before you even step inside the door.

They also carry cards for Chili’s, Cracker Barrel, Olive Garden, Domino’s, and Panera Bread. What gift cards they have and how big the discount is varies, so check often to get the best money saving benefit from Cardpool.

6. Point earned gift cards

Even better for the wallet than a discounted gift card is a gift card earned by doing things you already do online anyways. Various point programs will give you points for searching online, shopping, or doing other online activities through their platforms.

Some of my favorites are…

7. Become an expert at knowing where the best specials of the day are

My family knows that the least expensive night to order pizza from our favorite pizza joint is Monday or Tuesday when they run a great one topping deal. We also know if we are in the mood for shakes we should do it during 2pm to 4 pm when we can get them half price. If we are craving burritos the craving has to wait for Mondays when they are $5 at our favorite burrito bar.

When my children were little we paid more attention to when the “kid’s eat free” days were, but those days are over for us. However, if you still have little ones you might want to check out this listing of where and when your kids can eat for free.

8. Become a junk mail lover

Every month our mailman delivers a giant wad of advertisements to our mailbox. Most of it is just junk, but usually there are 2 or 3 sheets of coupons for our favorite fast food restaurants, making it worth my time to sift through the pile before it hits the recycle bin.

We have also found coupons for locally owned restaurants in a small, free magazine delivered to our door that also looks like junk, but its pages contain great deals if you search them.

9. Follow websites that share restaurant deals

Money Saving Mom shares great restaurant deals that our family has taken advantage of from time to time. Another site I found recently that has a huge restaurant coupon area is Fat Wallet. Fat Wallet is more than just a coupon site, you can also earn cash back through shopping at your favorite stores through them.

10. Use daily deal site deals

Groupon for months ran a deal for half price meals on our favorite locally owned BBQ joint. My husband and I bought as many of the deal as we could…who can say no to half price date night?

Our family has also used Living Social to grab great restaurant deals a few times.

How does your thrifty family eat out for less?

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  1. Awesome ideas! I’m always looking to save money eating out.

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