By Natalie Marusin
Everyone loves a great dinner or lunch out with friends and family. But, restaurant tabs can quickly add up if you don’t know the best ways to save.
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, heading out for date-night or just skipping a night cooking at home, the meal is always better when you’re able to walk away with more money in your pocket.
With a little time and organization, saving money while eating out is as easy as pie. Here are four ways to rack-up the savings at your local eateries.
Check the mail
It’s sometimes tempting to just toss those coupon booklets and mailers that seem to endlessly stack up in the mail box right into the trash. But, all that junk mail can hold a ton of restaurant savings. A lot of local dining spots advertise through mailer and often will include coupons -- such as free delivery or even money off your next order.
So, the next time you see a pile of coupon books or pamphlets in the mail, take some time to look through it. It’s a simple and accessible approach to be on your way to savings city.
Sign up for loyalty programs
Many restaurants have free email clubs and loyalty programs, and you really can save a lot by signing up for them. Usually, once you sign up, you’ll receive a coupon for your next visit to the restaurant and sometimes even a free food offer. Many restaurants also will send you a special deal on your birthday.
Scan daily deals
Sites that showcase daily deals will often highlight local restaurants. LivingSocial and Groupon are great places to start. A helpful tip: Remember to only buy the deals you know you’ll use (not just because it’s a great deal). Most of these daily deals have an expiration date, so make sure you know the date and are able use your voucher.
Use savings sites
Websites such as Restaurant.com can offer huge savings when it comes to dining out. You’ll find great discounts at many local restaurants -- we’re talking $5 for a $25 gift card at some places. And if you pair those savings with Cash Back sites, you could potentially get that gift card for free. A free dinner out? Sign us up.
Natalie Marusin, a savings and couponing expert, writes for ShopAtHome.com.