Saving Money When You’re Eating Out

Most of us can’t usually say, that eating out is economical, but we all do it at least sometimes. Whether you eat out at your local McDonald’s or a you head for the nearest Swiss Chalet.


First of all if you live in an apartment, don’t just throw your junk mail out, sometimes there are coupons for your local fast food places like Subway, Mr. Sub, Pizza Hut, KFC and more it only takes a second to look. Secondly if you plan on eating out or it’s a possibliity, keep them in a location like in your car, or in your bag. The last thing you want, is to remember you have a coupon, and realize it’s at home.

Although you can get these in houses too, there seems to be a greater amount of promotional coupons handed out to apartments and most of all, a lot of people throw out their coupons in the trash, and you can get more from your recycling bin in your apartment mailroom. I sometimes smile to myself, knowing that there are sometimes, completely free items you can get from these coupons, without purchase. They are usually coffee’s or fries, sometimes even smoothies or shakes.


A lot of casual dining restuarants often have mailing lists online that you can subscribe too. They often send out specialized coupons only for subscribers, that allow you to save a specified percentage, get a free appetizer or other special deal. The catch is that you have to subscribe.

You can find these mailing lists by searching with Google or your search engine of choice for the restaurant you are interested in saving at and seeing if they have a Canadian website. If they do, go there and check to see if they have any special club, mailing list, or other sort of promotional list for which you can subscribe to and subscribe to it.


There are restaurants that have specials on certain days, or days where kids eat free, or days where the second entree is half price. It pays to observe your local restuarant menu’s, posted notes on doors and signage, cause you never know how much you could potentially save.

Your local town paper, is often a good source of saving at particular restuarants and eateries in your area. Being in a town myself, I see this on regular intervals, in leaflets in our newspaper or advertising in the newspaper itself for local restaurants. It will usually be a coupon you will have to cut out for savings, add it to that stash in your purse or car.


There is also a site online called that offers coupon books that have tons of coupons for local restuarants and popular fast food places. They sell these books at different prices during the year, each book they sell is good for one year and for the particular area you ordered it for. You can always browse online to see what they offer for your area. These coupons are usually 2 for 1 deals and are great for eating with a friend or partner. However, these books have way more then just restuarant coupons though and are great to buy when they are on sale. You can even trade for them, in coupon groups.


When I eat out at a place like Burger King, I often look at the menu for a while. I try to keep my orders below five dollars before tax. It’s not usually hard for me though, as I tend to eat vegetarian fare, and it seems to be cheaper in some cases. Most of the time is better to get combo deals, as the drink and side order is included. When you order separately, it’s almost always more.


Be wary of coupons posed as good deals though, for example a coupon for free fries with an order of a burger, sometimes won’t be cheaper, cause the cost of the beverage brings the price back up to the cost of the combo. This deal only becomes a deal if you had a drink already, and were not planning on purchasing another.

As a side thought, a lot of fast food places now have Junior items, smaller sized portions. You can often buy 2 of these and a drink for less then five dollars. Or if you happen to have a bigger appetite, keep your eyes open for the 2 can dine specials for places such as McDonald’s and Burger King, it’s cheaper then buying 2 combos and great for those who have Kong sized appetites.

I could go on with tons of ideas, and maybe these thoughts have made you come up with some of your own, either way, ruling out eating out isn’t usually needed. Do it sparingly, but do it wisely, and always keep your eye out for great deals.

Lisa Hallman, owner of Thrifty Canadian and publisher of many articles on Savings advice for Canadians.

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