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One weakness in our budget is going out to eat.  My family and I LOVE to try new places and enjoy the experience of going out, so we constantly look for ways to save money.  Going out to eat often can definitely break the budget, so below are a few great ideas you can use to save money:

Find Discount Gift Cards

There are many different ways you can get discount gift cards to use at restaurants.  Most of these will only apply to chain restaurants.  Websites like,, and, have discounted gift cards you can purchase.  Warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco also sell discounted gift cards. Around the holidays, restaurants will sometimes run promotions with bonus gift cards based on the amount you buy.

You can even earn gift cards with rebate apps like Ibotta, Rautken, and Get Upside. These rebate apps give you cashback on things you’re already buying anyway like groceries or gas. You can get cashback or choose gift cards – read more about them here.

Many credit cards like the Discover It Card Reward Program also offer cashback in the form of gift cards – and most qualify for additional percent on the gift card.  I get quite a few $25 gift cards for $20 rewards or $50 gift cards for $40-45!

Find Groupon Deals or Other Local Savings Sites

Groupon or Living Social will sometimes have discounts on local restaurants you can search through. Many areas have local savings websites. LocalFlavor is another site that offers restaurant discounts (not available in all areas)!

Go Out for Lunch versus Dinner

Most restaurants have a special lunch menu that is cheaper and usually smaller portioned.  If timing is not an issue, choose to go to your favorite restaurant for lunch instead of dinner to save money.   That way you can have the restaurant experience you desire without breaking the bank.

Find Local Restaurant Specials

Search your area to find out the local daily specials and dine based on your options available. For instance, we have a local pizza place that offers 1/2 priced pizza on Monday, and another place that offers 1/2 priced burgers on Tuesdays. 

Most restaurants have specials posted on their websites, but you can also call around to find their specials and savings.  Search coupons and mailers that you receive for additional ideas and discounts to your local restaurants.

It makes a big difference to shop discounts and specials versus paying full price for your meals. Plus, the more you save, the more money you have to go out again in the future!