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Saving money when you eat out!

Posted by Felicia Saturday, December 12, 2009, under | 1 comments
We all know that it is easy to get so busy around the holidays that we just don't have time to cook every night, so what do we do instead? Eat a frozen pizza or eat out, right? Well, as you can imagine eating out even one time can be VERY expensive! So, how can we avoid those extra costs and keep saving even when we eat out? I have some tips to help you out in that area!

1. This may be the hardest, but try to plan ahead! That is the BIGGEST key to saving anywhere in your budget. Try to plan ahead the night before if you know you are just going to be too busy to cook the next day. What are you planning? Well, where you may eat of course! Make a list of some of the restaurants you may be near when you are out, what may sound good to your family and hopefully what will be more inexpensive( You don't ALWAYS have to turn to McDonald's. :) Create your list and then move to step 2.

2. After you have your list you are on to finding what!! Where can you find them you ask? Well, most of mine come in the mail. We have savings books that are sent out along with flyers. I never throw any of those coupons away, even the ones we haven't been to(unless I know we don't like the restaurant). Also, keep an eye out in your local newspapers while you are clipping your coupons. I have found several that way too. When you have found them split up the ones that you know you may use on the go, or in the car. The ones you aren't sure about, haven't planned in your trip or just have duplicates for- hang those on your refrigerator with a heavy duty magnet. If you have a better place, like a folder on a shelf, you can do that too. I just don't have the extra space and the fridge keeps them out of my way and within arms length. I will explain the ones you have set aside in a moment.

3. How about those restaurants you couldn't find anything for? Check online. Go to the official websites and see what they are offering in the "specials" or Promotions" areas. If you don't see anything there, do a quick search for the restaurant name and coupons. See what comes up. Not all restaurants offer any kind of coupon, but you will find that most do!

4. Another great way to snag a coupon is by signing up for newsletters on the official site. You will see they will send you special discounts and promos and a lot of times a "Welcome" gift, like a free appetizer. They also do free or buy one get one free deals on your birthday. Definitely come in handy!!

5. So now that you have your coupons separated, you need to find a way to keep those coupons you will need "on hand". I simply use a big envelope for mine and keep them in my glove box. If you don't have room in your glove box, try a rubber band and secure them tightly to your visor.No need to clip the individual coupons out, just fold up the page and put it in the envelope. If you have a big enough purse, you could even carry them in there. Just remember if you do that then your husband or anyone else who drives the car won't have access to them. On the other hand, if you drive multiple cars, keeping them in your purse may be a better idea.

So, you should be ready to go now! Wanna grab a sandwich? Going to Burger King? You have a coupon for that! Want some fish? Long John Silver's? You have one for there also!! Need a pizza on the go, but don't want to pay the menu prices? Woo hoo! You have a coupon right there with you to save you 5 bucks!!

I have one more tip for planning dinners out. Next time you are at your favorite sit-down restaurants, grab a to-go or take-out menu. Take it home and file it in a folder or put them on your fridge. Next time you want to go with your kids, you can ask them before you go what they want and plan your own meal. You can order much faster that way and no yelling across a noisy table. Not to mention, it may just be faster(and cheaper) to just do take-out and bring it back home.

Below are a few links of some of the restaurants to check out online for food freebies and coupons:

Link to free food for signing up for e-mails-be sure to check all the way down as there are two lists.
Link to free food on your birthday sometimes have food coupons listed here sometimes have food coupons here