Thursday, April 30, 2009

Saving Money While Eating Out - Part 1

There's hardly a business that isn't affected by the current economic situation. That includes restaurants, which are struggling everywhere. Nearly half of consumer's food budgets are spent in restaurants. That number represents a total economic impact of $1.5 trillion.

There are ways to eat out and not break the bank. Here are some tips:

1) Eat out during the week when specials are offered at dinnertime. The slowest days for restaurants are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so they typically offer specials on these days.

2) Find out when "Kids Eat Free" at your favorite restaurants. This is a marketing campaign that is designed to get the whole family into a restaurant - and it works! There is a great website to find out where Kids Eat Free. Check it out! Moe's is a great place that has a "Kids Eat Free" on Tuesday in our area and it's all day (lunch and dinner). This is a great value for our family!

3) is an online site that you can purchase a gift certificate for CHEAP! They repeatedly offer $25 gift certificates for $10 but often run specials where you can buy this same $25 gift certificate for $2 or $3! The last time I used this website, I bought a $25 gift certificate to a local Italian restaurant for $2! There are rules and restrictions on using the gift certificate so be sure to read all of the fine print before buying.

4) Fill out receipt surveys for a discount at restaurants. Check your receipts to see if there is an option to complete a survey for a future discount. Chick Fil-A often has this available on their receipts. Completing a survey takes less than 5 minutes and generally you can redeem the survey code for a free sandwich or discounted menu item. Olive Garden, Chili's and Longhorn also do this randomly on their receipts.

5) Order appetizers for dinner. They often cost less and are big enough for a meal. If you get water to drink, you have an inexpensive meal.

6) Give praise where it's due. If you have a good experience at a restaurant, be sure to call or write the manager to let them know. Restaurants love to get good feedback and often reward customers with a coupon or discount.

7) Become a mystery shopper and perform dining out secret shops. I've been doing this for years and have eaten at Houston's, Chili's, Longhorn's, Ted's Montana Grill, Sweet Tomatoes, and Famous Daves for FREE! The perk for being a mystery shopper is that the company rewards you with a free meal if you fill out a survey. It's painless and takes about 30 minutes of your time. Most of the companies reimburse you from $15 - $50. Interested in more information about mystery shopping, check out Bestmark or Focus on Service - these are 2 of the best companies!

Stay tuned for more money saving ideas about eating out ....

Written by Elizabeth