Eating out can be expensive. In fact, it’s more expensive to eat out now than ever before. If you’re one of the millions of people looking to save some money, while still enjoying the convenience of eating out, look no further. We’ve got some tips and tricks to make saving on food and restaurants a whole lot easier.
Tips to save money on food and restaurants
Whether you’re a family of five or a student on a budget, everybody likes to save a little extra cash, but nobody wants to sacrifice the food they love. Use the tips below to help you save money at restaurants while still enjoying some tasty eats.
1. Don’t order alcohol
Indulging in a drink or two before dinner may be enjoyable, but it comes with a steep price. A 9 oz glass of wine could cost close to a bottle of similar quality purchased from your local liquor store. With the addition of alcohol, a $30 meal could easily double or triple after only a couple of drinks.
Save yourself from spending the unnecessary cash and have a drink at home before heading out to eat. You’ll be able to drink what you enjoy while saving some money in the process.
2. Avoid drinks besides water
On second thought, skip drinks altogether and stick with a glass of water. Drinks consistently top the list as being one of the most marked up things to order when eating out. Exactly how much more are you paying for that restaurant drink? A lot more than you need to:
How much are drinks at restaurants?
- Wine: You’ll be paying on average 400% more for a glass of wine from a restaurant.
- Mixed drinks: If you’re not totally convinced yet, then how about the fact that you may be paying 1,150% more for a gin and tonic it than if you were to make that same drink at home.
- Pop: Restaurants mark up their pop 1,150%. While pop costs about 5 to 20 cents a serving, it can go for up to $3.00 a glass.
- Bottled water: By far, the largest menu markup is bottled water which is often sold for 2,000% more than it costs the restaurant to acquire it.
Skip flavored drinks and have a glass of water with lemon. Avoiding paying for drinks will make saving money on food and restaurants much easier for you.
3. Save on food by going to happy hour
Of course, if you do want to have a drink with dinner, we understand. It’s a fun way to celebrate an occasion or bond with coworkers. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for a good happy hour.
What is happy hour?
Happy hours give restaurants the opportunity to bring in customers during a slower time of the day, while giving customers a great deal on drinks. $10 cocktails get cut in half, and you can get a pint of beer for under $5.
Not interested in drinking tonight? Not to worry. Happy hours can come with food specials too. State & Main offers a happy hour everyday from 3 pm – 6 pm and 9 pm – close and has a variety of food and drink specials to boot:
- $4 eats: Snack on a basket of truffle parmesan chips or order a fish taco for just $4. It’s a perfect way to curb your hunger while indulging in a couple of drinks.
- Dinner under $12: If you’re looking for something more substantial, State & Main offers a burger, fries, and dip for just $12. At almost $5 less than regular price, it’s a great deal for an affordable dinner.
We’ve rounded up some of the hottest happy hours in Toronto. Check it out to save on drink specials in Toronto and simplify saving money on food and drinks.
4. Find restaurant deals and weekday specials
Save money on food by switching date night from Friday to Tuesday. Some places have different food specials depending on what day of the week it is – and we’re not just talking about Wing Wednesday.
East Side Mario’s offers several midweek specials, all of which are worth heading out after work for:
- $2 Tuesdays: Grab the kids and head on over to East Side Mario’s this Tuesday for $2 kid’s meals. Choose from a variety of kid friendly food like pizza, pasta, and chicken fingers for a meal everyone is sure to enjoy.
- All-you-can-eat pasta: For just $12.99 you can have all the pasta, garlic bread, and soup or salad as you can eat. You can even choose a different combination of pasta and sauce each time, so you never get bored.
Midweek deals like these can help keep your stomach full without emptying your wallet. Sometimes eating out makes more sense than eating in.
5. Use money saving coupons at restaurants
Coupons are the original money saver. To this day, it’s still one of the easiest ways to save money without spending a dime. Keep an eye out in the weekend ads or newspaper for coupons to some of your favorite stores.
If clipping newspaper ads isn’t your thing, you can still benefit from the joy of coupons:
Where to find coupons?
- Download a coupon app: There’s a number of apps out there designed to do nothing but save you money. You can get access to exclusive coupons to some of your favorite fast casual dining establishments, no spending required.
- Find coupons online: Sometimes, restaurants will offer coupons exclusively on their website. Go online before you go out and see if there are any special offers online.
- Buy a coupon book: Annual coupon books are a great way to save a ton of money. You’ll have to pay a bit of money up front, but for 100’s of local coupons valid all year long, it’s totally worth it.
Get creative with your money saving techniques and download some coupons before buying your meal. It’ll lessen the burden of eating out substantially, while saving you money in the process.
6. Buy a restaurant gift card with Moola
What if you could get a $50 gift card to your favorite restaurant for only $40? Sounds like a no brainer, right? Moola does just that, giving you the opportunity to purchase gift cards to some of your favorite restaurants at a lower price.
With gift cards to places like Cactus Club, The Ultimate Dining Card, and Craft Beer Market, we guarantee that there’s something for everyone can enjoy.
Find out more about Moola and how to can simplify saving money on food and everyday essentials
7. Sign up for a loyalty program to save money on food
Loyalty programs are a fantastic way to benefit from frequent spending. They can vary from punch cards to newsletters to email lists and are usually completely free. They’ll often offer special rewards for frequenting the restaurant and signing up for their email list.
Paddy Flaherty’s has a loyalty program that’s worth signing up for:
- Free appetizer: Get a free appetizer just for filling out their form online. No strings attached.
- Free dessert on your birthday: Appetizers aren’t all you’ll get,. You get a free dessert on your birthday. Singing “happy birthday” in front of the entire restaurant may or may not be included.
- Exclusive offers and deals: Being a part of their loyalty program gives you exclusive access to deals and offers that can save you even more money.
Consider connecting with your favorite restaurants so you can benefit big time from spending money while you’re eating out.
Saving on food and restaurants doesn’t have to be hard
Don’t give up great food with good people. Budget better with these tips and tricks and make saving on food and restaurants a breeze.