6 Clever Hacks for Eating Out on a Budget

MMadelyn August 28, 2023 5:02 PM

Eating out and sticking to a budget can often feel like balancing on a tightrope. It's a challenging act because, let's face it, we all love a good meal that we didn't have to cook ourselves. Fortunately, there are several ways you can enjoy dining out without busting your budget. Here are six clever hacks to help you save money while eating out.

1. Discounted gift cards

One of the easiest ways to save money on eating out is to purchase discounted restaurant gift cards. Sites like GiftCardGranny and Raise offer gift cards for less than their face value, allowing you to save anywhere from 5% to 20%. It's like getting an instant coupon for your meal.

2. Choose your dining time wisely

Most people automatically think of dining out as an evening affair. However, many restaurants offer cheaper menu options during lunch hours. Moreover, some places have 'happy hours' where you can enjoy discounted meals and drinks. Plan your dining times strategically to take advantage of these deals.

3. Sign up for restaurant reward programs

Many restaurants offer reward programs where you can earn points for every dollar spent. Over time, these points can be redeemed for free meals or discounts. Some restaurants even offer a free meal on your birthday if you're part of their rewards program.

4. Order strategically

Ordering food strategically can significantly cut down your bill. Consider ordering appetizers as your main course or splitting a large main dish with a friend. Also, be aware that drinks and desserts can significantly inflate your bill. Stick to water and consider skipping dessert or sharing it.

5. Take advantage of restaurant apps and websites

Many restaurants have their own apps and websites where they offer exclusive deals and discounts. Some even offer a free item just for downloading the app. In addition, there are several third-party apps, like RetailMeNot and Groupon, where you can find exclusive coupon deals for various restaurants.

6. Use cash back credit cards

If you're disciplined with credit card use, consider getting a card that offers cash back on dining. Some cards offer up to 3% or more cash back on restaurant purchases. Just make sure to pay off your balance every month to avoid paying interest.

Here's a quick summary of these hacks in a handy table:

Hack Description
Discounted gift cards Purchase discounted restaurant gift cards from platforms like GiftCardGranny and Raise.
Dining time Choose cheaper dining times like lunch hours and 'happy hours'.
Restaurant reward programs Sign up for restaurant reward programs to earn points and receive discounts.
Strategic ordering Order appetizers as main courses, split large dishes, and consider skipping drinks and desserts.
Restaurant apps and websites Use restaurant apps and websites, as well as third-party platforms, for deals and discounts.
Cash back credit cards Use credit cards that offer cash back on dining. Ensure the balance is paid off each month.

Remember, while these hacks can help, the most effective way to save money on dining out is to do it less frequently. Consider it a treat rather than a regular occurrence.

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