With a big family, 7 of us, it’s hard to gulp down a bill of over $100 when we go out to eat. Here are some tips we’ve used to cut that bill down along with a few more you may appreciate.
Look for those coupons: Of course you knew I was going to say that, right. Always do a search and see what coupons come up for restaurants in your area. Sometimes, you can sign up to be in their email club where you’ll receive a free appetizer or a dessert for signing up. You’ll also receive other promotion alerts along with a freebie coupon near your birthday. Keep in mind that sometimes it does take 24 hours for the coupon to show up in your email after signing up.
Check local coupon sites: If you’re in NH, Couptopia is a great local deal site that typically bring 50% off. Other sites that bring us similar deals are Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local and more. If you’re heading on vacation, try out restaurant.com for restaurants that will be in your vacation area.
Join their Rewards Program: I signed up for the Uno’s Insider’s Club ages ago! I get email with coupons on my birthday, coupons on the anniversary of when I signed up and many unexpected coupons for free apps and/or dessert! Some restaurants have reward cards or punch cards that earn points or punches for a free meal or a dining gift card after eating there or spending a certain amount of money. Certainly take advantage of these free rewards!
Late Night Specials : This one is designed for me and my hubby or a couple of my girlfriends. Again, Uno Pizzeria in Concord is a good example of this. For example, on Monday nights they have a Build A Burger Special for only $3.50! They have some other great specials during the week as well. Keep track of them by following them on Facebook!
Early dining specials: Going out for lunch or heading to a restaurant for early dinner dining can save you a lot of money!
Blue plate specials: Blue plate specials were popular from the 1920’s-1950’s where you ordered the special at a good price and got your food served to you on a blue plate. Red Arrow Diner still has Blue Plate Specials, though it served on a Red Arrow Diner dish. Other restaurants may have happy hour specials where you may find 1/2 off appetizers or drinks certain time of the day.
Order the free drinks or get a refill special deal: Well, we’re not going to hear the waitress say we have a great tall glass of water special tonight, but you are going to save an average of $3 a person if you do order a water beverage. For us, that’s a savings of $21 on our bill. Most of the time when we’re with the family, everyone will get waters, but when it’s just Mr. Professor and myself, it’s a treat to be out together and we’ll order what we want. Sometimes it’s still water and sometimes it’s not.
Red Arrow Diner has an ongoing beverage special. Buy one of their drinks in their Red Arrow Diner travel cup for $2.99 and you can get refills for $1.50 in your cup anytime you go back! We’ve taken advantage of this special and as long as the kids remember to bring theirs along, they can get a soda beverage.
Share an entree: Take advantage of the large portion sizes. My twins who are almost 14 are great about sharing a plate. They no longer are on the kids menu, but this helps cut the cost of a plate and they get a great portion size. You may want to weigh the option of ordering off the children’s menu even for younger children. With the portions that are given, it may be to your advantage for mom and dad to share their plates with the kids.
Order the best for your buck: Ordering popular choices such as burgers may carry a higher mark up margin. Sticking to higher quality menu choices can give us more for our money. It also makes eating out more special instead of it being something similar we could have had at home for double the price.
This also rings true for the kids menu. Most kid’s menu offer macaroni and cheese for about a $5 cost. Instead, try the ribs and fries and keep the macaroni night on a busy night at home for only $1 a box.
Head out on kids eat free or cheap night: Many restaurants have Kids Eat Free nights. Most often it’s 1 child free with 1 adult entree. Here’s a list we have so far to help you out on that.
Opt for the app: Sometimes choosing an appetizer as your meal and adding a small salad to make your meal complete is a great option. Getting a sampler appetizer is good for the person who can’t decide on what they want to eat. The portions are usually ginormous!
Order food that’s good when reheated: It’s something to think about if you know you’re bringing leftovers home. Lots of times we are. I don’t eat fried foods too often, but usually that is one type of food that doesn’t reheat and taste as good as when eating at the restaurant.
Enjoy the extras: Most restaurants offer rolls, popcorn or peanuts while you’re waiting for your meals automatically. If they don’t be sure to ask. If you have a few extra rolls, take them home with your leftovers.
Question the extras: Recently, my son was gifted a gift card at Cinnabon. He ordered his cinnamon bun. They bagged it, and with extra frosting in their hand, they asked if he wanted extra frosting. Of course he said yes, but they charged him for it. They never mentioned it was an up charge. In some cases, be careful with those extras. I like a choice of purchasing something, not to be tricked into buying extra.
Travel for your dessert: I’m not a big dessert person, but my kids ask for dessert every time we go out. One option is to share a dessert or two. One option I like better is to have a dessert ready when you get home. A pan of brownies and a carton of ice cream is sometimes still cheaper than just one dessert at a restaurant.
Tips on tipping: When we receive discounts on our bill, the tip should still reflect on the full amount. Let’s not shorthand our waitress or waiter. Many times they’ve shown us where to find a special coupon on our phone. I want to keep them on my side, I’m sure you do too.
Order out instead of dining in: Sometimes it’s just easier on a family and their budget to bring the food home. You won’t have to argue with the kids about what they can and can’t have. Drinks are at home in the fridge and it cuts the tip down. Though not required to tip, we usually give a few dollars for packaging it up and most of the time they’ll throw in those rolls we would have had while waiting at the table.
Following these money saving tips or some of these tips will certainly make a difference on your bill. It just takes a little planning for a night out with the family at one of your favorite restaurants.