7 Brilliant Ways to Save Money at a RestaurantMarch 1, 2017
Eating out is a favorite American tradition. Although dining out regularly can get pricey very quickly, it is possible to save money at the restaurant with the right tips. I’m excited to partner with Sears on this post and bring you my best money-saving ideas.From choosing fast casual fare to using the Sears Mastercard, I will be sharing various ways to get your money to stretch farther at restaurants.
1. Take it to go! When you dine at a restaurant, you are likely paying for drinks and possibly an appetizer. Let’s not forget the gratuity, which can be significant at fine dining establishments. When you take food to go, you can bypass many of those extra costs and keep more money in your pocket. You can always whip up a quick salad at home to go with your entree for a fraction of the cost.
2. Choose fast casual! If you’re really excited to eat out, choose a fast casual establishment. At these places, you typically order food at a counter, pick it up shortly after and then sit down at a table. Meals at fast casual restaurants are usually about $7-10 per plate. I have a few fast casual places in my area that I visit regularly.
Note: Fast casual is not to be confused with fast food.
3. Use a cash back credit card! When paying for your bill at the restaurant, use the Sears Mastercard to earn cash back. Eligible purchases made at grocery stores & restaurants offer an impressive 3% cash back. That’s money you can earn from making purchases you would have made anyway! Talk about convenience!
Using a cash back credit card like this is a no-brainer way to make your money go farther when eating out. Although I have several credit cards, I always reach for my cash back credit card! Did you know that the Sears Mastercard is powered by Citi Retail Services, which is one of the nation’s most reputable credit card issuers?
In fact, the Sears Mastercard lets consumers earn rewards points on all purchases they make everywhere they shop. Isn’t that fabulous? In addition to the cash back at restaurants & grocery stores, consumers can earn 5% back in points on eligible purchases made at gas stations, 2% back in points on eligible purchases made at Sears and Kmart, and 1% back in points on all other eligible purchases. Planning on doing any home renovations or making a big purchase? This credit card is perfect for sizable items such as kitchen appliances sold by Sears and Kmart. You can shop in-store, on the store’s website, or on ShopYourWay.com. By the way, these rewards points can also be used in combination with in-store promotions at Sears and Kmart, so your savings can be substantial!
*The Sears Mastercard from Citibank offers 5% and 3% back on the first $10,000 of combined eligible purchases made on gas, groceries and restaurants and 1% thereafter.
With the new Sears Mastercard, customers can earn more Shop Your Way points with no fee for 12 months from the date the account is open. Using a cash back credit card is such a smart way to combine spending money and saving money!
4. Skip dinner! Restaurants often offer time-sensitive savings. One of the most popular promotions is a lunch special. I often find a “lunch special” menu that offers an entree, along with a soup or salad, for a great price at many establishments. It’s usually only offered for 3-4 hours in the middle of the day, but the savings can be significant. Plus, if you’re willing to have an early dinner, you can sometimes still take advantage of the lunch prices around 4-5 pm. You can typically find the same meal offered at lunch (sometimes it’s called the “lunch size”) for a fraction of the cost of the dinner price. Even breakfast is a relatively affordable meal to enjoy at restaurants. A few days ago, I took my daughter out to breakfast before dropping her off at school.
5. Take advantage of birthday perks! Many restaurants offer birthday deals and discounts. To cash in on these perks, simply sign up on the restaurant’s website (this should be free). This is a rewards program that will usually offer a promotion around the time of your birthday. Sometimes the offer will be a free appetizer with entree. Sometimes it will be 20% off your complete bill. Either way, it’s great savings and it’s free!
6. Bring home leftovers! Many restaurants will serve more food than I can typically eat all at once. Rather than throwing away the extra, I usually take leftovers home. This grilled chicken wrap made an easy, tasty lunch for myself the next day.
7. Drink water to save! Did you know that the highest-margin items on many menus are the beverages? A basic soda can be almost $3. Even with free refills, that’s quite a lot for a drink. The prices go exponentially higher if you’re ordering fancier, alcoholic drinks, of course. That’s why I try to order water when I’m eating out. It’s healthy and free!
I hope these tips have helped you find ways to save on your next trip to the restaurant. With some basic planning and preparation, you can still enjoy the experience of dining at a restaurant, while still saving money along the way.
Learn more about the Sears Mastercard with Shop Your Way and start earning points on all of your purchases every day. Now, tell me: What is your best tip to save money at restaurants? Have you experienced the awesome perks of the Sears Mastercard?
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sears. All opinions are mine alone.
We know all of the restaurants in the area that offer free birthday meals and definitely take advantage. These are great tips!
Yes, restaurant birthday perks are a great way to treat yourself on your birthday! Thanks for your comment, Robin!
Chinese restaurant lunch specials are the only way that I will usually buy Chinese. I buy specials at the end of their window and then heat them again to serve at dinner.
These are wonderful suggestions and especially if taking children. Lunch menu is always cheaper over the dinner menu so that is something to always consider. Many places also have senior discounts which you didn’t mention. So the older folks can take advantage of that.
Thank you for sharing these awesome tips. Some of them I already do, however I still learned a thing of two today!
Glad you learned something here, Annemarie! Have a wonderful week!
I love all the suggestions you have here! I do need to get a credit card that has Point on it. One of my favorite things is to spoil myself for my birthday and see what I can get for free for restaurants.
Great tips!! I like getting water, because paying $3.00 to $4.00 for tea or sofa is way to high!
Yes, I agree, Nikka!
I always bring those leftovers home. I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t do that. I often find that meals are way too big so I order something I want knowing that I will also get lunch out of it the next day. I feel like that’s a great way for me to save and spend money.
Yes, restaurant meals are almost always too big for me to eat in one sitting. Thanks for visiting, Paula!
It’s so true – lunch specials are cheaper than dinner prices!
I do like taking it to go, and never thought about it saving money. How cool. And I do only eat half, often, to have it last until the next day.
These are great tips. We don’t eat out often because it is too expensive for a family of 5.
I had never heard the term “fast casual” until this year. I like fast casual restaurants, though!
I usually treat myself to Soda at a restaurant, but water is a great way to save a couple of bucks. It adds up if you eat out a lot.
Great tips! We do not eat out too much, but when we do there are many times when I will only eat half and save the rest for lunch the next day.
These are all definitely things we do to save at restaurants. Another we found helpful is to join the restaurants email list or reward program, so we end up with discounts and free meals.
I didn’t think you were going to include drink water at first. Then I saw it at the end of your post. That is one of the best ways to save money at a restaurant. Drinks are so expensive.
That looks like a very helpful card. Anything I can use to save money is a good thing.
Great post! When I dine out I always try to look to save, especially since I have a big family!
Love these tips. We to always ask for a carry out anytime there is leftovers. I agree, when we do eatout, to save, we order it, then my hubby go and pick it up. This way, we do not over order, nor have to leave a tip.
I love all your tips and I am doing all of them too!! We bring home leftovers and choose water instead of juices and sodas not only to save but also to avoid too much sugar.
These are all such great tips. We always take home leftovers and repurpose them for another meal.