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4 Money-Saving Tricks You Can Use to Eat Out Without Breaking the Bank


Shocked at high menu prices? Restaurants have been hard-hit by spiking food costs, a hike they have to shift to diners. The good news? They want you to stay loyal customers, so they’ve come up with ways for you spend less as you savor their foods. Check out these tips on how to save money at restaurants so you can have the best of both worlds.

Look for new ‘inflation specials’.

To avoid losing business, restaurants have introduced deals that save you money while also saving them cash, because they’re either made with less-expensive ingredients (like chicken instead of beef), are lunch-sized portions, or take-home meals that you heat yourself.

For example, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse now offers a $40 burger bundle (four burgers, fries, and a family salad) for takeout or delivery. Other deals include half off large takeout pizzas and $6 take-home entrees (up to five entrees with a minimum $9.95 purchase.)

In addition, Cracker Barrel offers weekday lunch specials at around $7.49 (prices vary depending on location). Find more inflation specials at Eat Drink Deals.

Bonus Tip: Many places are offering limited-time coupons for 10 percent, 25 percent, or even 50 percent off meals. To find them, visit Retail Me Not.

Try shared meals.

There’s a growing trend among restaurants that can save you 25 percent or more when dining with a pal: meals for two! These include separate or shared entrées along with a shared appetizer, side, or dessert.

For example, Applebee’s offers two entrées with one shared appetizer for $22. And Chili’s offers one shared appetizer, two full-sized entrées, and a shared dessert for $25.

Feeding more folks? Look for “family deals,” which include a shared entrée and sides big enough for four to six people. At Denny’s, for example, you can get a “Premium Chicken Strips” pack that includes 16 fried chicken tenderloins plus a side that feeds up to five for just $28.99 (prices vary depending on location). To find more bundled meal deals, visit Clark Deals.

Nab ‘to-go’ discounts.

Take-out orders made on an app or website will help you save money at restaurants and help restaurants, too. The reason? Apps and websites don’t use employee time, so many dine-in and dine-out places are offering special discounts when folks order this way. For example, Domino’s has a $7.99 carryout three-topping pizza deal that only applies to those ordering online or via their app.

Also great? Many restaurant apps award you points with every order that can then be redeemed for discounts or freebies. You may even get free items just for downloading an app. Panera Bread, for instance, rewards you with a complimentary pastry, and TGI Fridays gives app users free chips and salsa with every visit.

Bonus Tip: Use these tricks to find free delivery for restaurants in your area!

Join certain orgs to save 15 percent.

Being a member of some organizations or reaching a certain age can get you discounts at some eateries. For example, AARP members save 15 percent on dine-in meals at Denny’s and 10 percent at a variety of other eateries, including Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse.

Also, teachers and nurses are often given discounts and freebies during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2 to 6) and National Nurses Week (May 6 to 12). Last year, Buca di Beppo, Chipotle, and IHOP were just a few that participated.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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