Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Eating out for Less: My Strategy

Yesterday I had to tell pretty much every person I talked to (okay, so pretty much my family) about the wonderful deal I'd managed to snag as I bounced around the house thinking: "Hey, maybe we will be able to go out to eat once in a while, while Paul's in law school." Here's how the deal worked out for me.

For some reason I thought of the website yesterday at lunch time. I know that in the past they've had periods of time when there have been 80% off coupons so I headed over to and searched for the website and found that an 80% off deal had in fact been posted yesterday (I was nursing a sleeping Mae at the time or I would have done a little dance of joy at that lucky news! Although it does seem like they put out the 80% off coupons frequently.).

Then I had another idea. I've just started using EBates and wondered if maybe, just maybe Ebates had a deal. So I put in the box and of course they do have a deal (today it's 15% back on purchases simply by clicking through Ebates). Which means 80% off plus 15% back on any money you do spend.

Now the way works is roughly like this: You go to the site and put in your zip code or city. They bring up restaurants in your area (you can adjust distances from your zip code depending on how far your willing to drive). I put in our soon to be new zip code and found three pages of restaurants within 10 miles. Then you look at the restaurants and prices. I'll admit that I look for kids meals or just a general family vibe from the menu (and that was before reading yesterday's anti-kids article!). When in doubt I googled the restaurants to learn a little more.

I also look for restaurants that have a deal like this: get a $25 gift certificate for $10. Usually you must spend $35 when you're there to use the certificate (other rules are explained in the box for each restaurant). At some places (less common) you have to spend $50 to us the $25 (I try to skip those).

I added 16 gift certificates to my cart for $170 dollars. That was the going price for $395 in gift certificates. Then I put in SAVE, the coupon code that's good until the end of this month, and it knocked the price down to something like $35. Since I went through ebates I'll end up getting a few dollars back (I think it will end up being around $31 for $395 in gift certificates). And we have gift certificates that make a meal as a family around $10 (plus a tip). Not a bad deal for those nights when I'm exhausted and don't feel like I can cook another meal (I'm 12 weeks along and I'm thinking third trimester...), or for when we're celebrating an extra special occasion!

So if you're thinking about going out to dinner you might want to try this deal for yourself and see if there are restaurants in your area on the site (if you live in a city there will probably be quite a few!).


  1. I use groupon and Swagbucks for this too. I have found a few things and since we are in Houston their are often lots of deals. I got a deal on a really nice all you can eat Brazilian steak house for dinner. We were supposed to use it to do something special for The Baron's birthday but we haven't gotten around to it yet. It's not far from the Natural Science Museum and today they are having 50% off deal on that too. I'm thinking of making it a belated birthday/date deal night.

  2. Be careful when buying gift certificates from Years ago we had a situation with them where several of the restaurants they had deals with pulled out and invalidated the gift certificates and didn't offer any compensation for unused gift certificates. We also had incidents where the restaurant wouldn't honor the gift certificate.

  3. The other thing to be careful about when you don't yet know the area is whether the restaurants are even still in business. If you check restaurants in our area you find several on the list that are no longer in operation. These aren't restaurants that closed in the last few months either. A couple of them have been out of business for over a year, but they're still on the list.

  4. Yikes! I'd read reviews, but had only heard good things. I'll keep you guys posted on how it works out! I'd heard they'd made some changes in the last year so hopefully they're working out the kinks.

    I'll definitely be writing the company if they've sold us something that can't be used though! I can be determined, even over something like $2 when it's a matter of principal! :0)

  5. Whoo hoo! Just got a $25 gift certificate to a truly wonderful (and definitely open!) restaurant here for $2 with the promo code! Thanks, Cam!!!


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