20 Ways to Save Money and Still Eat Out

There is an old American tradition called the “blue plate special” that originated in the 1920’s and was popularized in the 50’s. If you were looking for the best deal at any restaurant you knew to ask for the blue plate special.

Things are a little more complicated today with online deals and Facebook offers. But it’s still possible to find terrific dining deals, even if you’re not computer savvy. Here are 20 of our favorite ideas.

Fast Food chains


Ok, let’s get this out of the way up front. I know fast food chains have a bad reputation and for those who are concerned about health (and honestly shouldn’t we all be?) they may not be the best choice. Still, there are some great deals out there and these days fast food doesn’t necessarily mean grabbing a burger and fries from you local McDonald’s. There are fast food chains like Chipotle that offer a wide selection of meal choices made from fresh ingredients and at a reasonable price. Of course

sometimes you are just looking for plain old fashioned comfort food and a burger and fries may be just what you are craving. Fortunately, most fast food places and nearly all fast food burger chains offer some kind of value menu. So before you consider eating out at a pricey restaurant, take a look at what fast food places have to offer. You may be surprised!

Outback Steakhouse Food That Will Make You Drool

Photo by Mike Mozart

Who can’t spot an Outback Steakhouse from a mile away? The restaurant chain was started over 30 years ago, and has grown into one of the most popular chain restaurants in the U.S. With over 1,000 locations in 23 countries, this Australian-themed restaurant chain should be at the top of your dining list. Here’s why – the menu is brimming with a large selection of wood-fire grilled, tongue tingling, juicy fare that will satisfy the toughest of taste buds. Not a steak lover? No problem. Outback’s menu is broad enough to cater to the oh so fussy eater (steak and potatoes only, please!) as well as the I’ll have one of each eater.  

Photo by Steven Depolo

Are you in the mood for a perfectly plump Porterhouse seasoned to perfection, or something from the sea swimming in steaming garlic butter? Maybe you want to delight your taste buds and treat yourself to the seared filet medallions topped with succulent roasted garlic butter? Whatever your mood and appetite, rest assured, you won’t leave Outback Steakhouse disappointed.

Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba

Start off with Outback’s signature staple – freshly baked dark honey wheat bread served warm with delicately whipped butter. Whether you’re in for dinner or just drinks, I highly recommend you request at least half a loaf. Once you try this bread, you’ll want it on your own table every night.  

Photo by Mack Male

The Appetizer menu at the Outback Steakhouse, or “Aussie-Tizers” as they’re called, provides a pleasing beginning to a tasty feast. If you’ve steered away from sampling Outback’s original Bloomin’ Onion, don’t. A beautiful looking Aussie-Tizer, this hand cut sweet onion is cooked to golden perfection and served with Outback’s enticing signature bloom sauce for dipping. If you’re in the mood for something rich in protein, consider the Wood-Fire Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie. A blend of tantalizing seasonings tops this appetizer and is served with grilled artisan bread, savory garlic herb butter, and fresh tomato basil. Your senses will thank you.

Photo by 모나카

The Outback Steakhouse doesn’t stop short when it comes to soup and salads. A steaming cup of creamy clam chowder is the perfect prelude to your meal. If you want to go lighter, I highly recommend the Brisbane Caesar Salad made with a pleasingly tangy Caesar dressing. This Aussie-Tizer will leave you with room for the rest of your meal.

Not all steaks are alike. The Signature Steaks at Outback are bold, classic, and hearty. Outback has carefully chosen cuts of the most succulent beef you will find. With 7 delectable and tender cuts to choose from, there’s something for everyone. I challenge you to find a cut of meat that’s more luscious than Victoria’s Filet® Mignon. It nearly melts in your mouth. Perhaps you’re more in the mood for a ribeye? Seared on a wood-fire grill to lock in moisture and add subtle smokiness, the Outback Rib Eye drips with flavor. If you’re especially hungry, I recommend the 14-ounce portion of this superbly marbled and aromatic steak. Can’t handle 14 ounces? Outback offers steaks in varying sizes, depending on your appetite. So, go for it.

Photo by Felipe Neves

Have your heart set on something other than steak? Don’t worry. Outback Steakhouse offers an expansive choice of meats other than beef including moist chicken, luscious pork and heavenly lamb, all of which are as tender and divine as their steak options. If your taste buds are burning for flavor, try Outback’s Baby Back Ribs. They’re rubbed with 17 specially selected spices, grilled over wood for gentle smokiness, then finished with Outback’s homemade zesty BBQ sauce. Can you say flavor?

If you’re craving something from the sea instead, how about the Bacon Bourbon Salmon? This dish is grilled over a wood fire and layered with a smoky bourbon glaze, leaving yourself to ask “Should salmon be served any other way?”  

Please tell me you saved room for dessert? The Chocolate Thunder from Down Under screams chocolate in a way only chocolate can. But if you’re a cheesecake connoisseur, treat yourself to the New York-Style Cheesecake, topped with rich chocolate or tangy raspberry sauce. Be warned though, it’s colossal in size, so you may want to share this one.

We can identify four main tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and bitterness. Some experts claim there’s a fifth taste called umami (Japanese for ‘pleasant savory taste’). Umami is what the famous French chef, Escoffier, claimed was the secret of his renowned success. Surely, a restaurant chain with a history as lengthy and successful as this one, must know something about umami that the average person doesn’t. If you want to satisfy your umami taste bud, stop by an Outback Steakhouse. You’ll be delighted.   

20 Ways to Save Money When Eating Out

There is an old American tradition called the “blue plate special” that originated in the 1920’s and was popularized in the 50’s. If you were looking for the best deal at any restaurant you knew to ask for the blue plate special.

Things are a little more complicated today with online deals and Facebook offers. But it’s still possible to find terrific dining deals, even if you’re not computer savvy. Here are 20 of our favorite ideas.

Fast Food chains


Ok, let’s get this out of the way up front. I know fast food chains have a bad reputation and for those who are concerned about health (and honestly shouldn’t we all be?) they may not be the best choice. Still, there are some great deals out there and these days fast food doesn’t necessarily mean grabbing a burger and fries from you local McDonald’s. There are fast food chains like Chipotle that offer a wide selection of meal choices made from fresh ingredients and at a reasonable price. Of course

sometimes you are just looking for plain old fashioned comfort food and a burger and fries may be just what you are craving. Fortunately, most fast food places and nearly all fast food burger chains offer some kind of value menu. So before you consider eating out at a pricey restaurant, take a look at what fast food places have to offer. You may be surprised!

Senior Discounts

A common myth is that senior discounts are only allowed for those 65 and older. The truth is that many restaurants offer “senior” discounts for those as young as 55. Sometimes you will find these discounts advertised on the menu. If you don’t see a senior discount listed on the menu of your restaurant of choice, remember: it never hurts to ask. Just ask your waiter if they offer any discounts for seniors. These discounts can save you as much as 10-15% of the price of your meal.

AARP Dining Discounts

Are you a member of AARP? Did you know that as a member you qualify for a variety of discounts when dining out. For example, AARP members can get a free donut from Dunkin’ Donuts, a free cup of coffee at Burger King, 15% off at Denny’s or at Outback Steakhouse, as well as many other great discounts. 

Order From the Lunch Menu

Most restaurants offer a lunch menu with smaller portions at considerably less cost. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can usually order from the lunch menu at any time of the day. There may be a small fee, usually a dollar or so added to the amount. But it’s almost always less expensive than ordering from the dinner menu for the same item.

Sharing a Meal

This is one of my personal favorites for several reasons. It’s a great excuse to meet up with a friend, a family member you haven’t seen in a while, or to spend some quality time with your significant other. It also cuts the calories from the meal in half. So if you’re watching your waistline it can be a real help! One word of caution however: some restaurants have started charging a fee for splitting meals. Be sure to check before you order.

Combo Deals

For those who would like to enjoy company for a meal, but aren’t comfortable sharing, many restaurants including Applebees offer a special combo meal deal which usually includes an appetizer and two entrees for one price. These can be great offers to take advantage of.

Daily Meal Specials

This is popular in both fast food chains and mom and pop diners. Ofen a sign will advertise the special of the day. A lot of restaurants offer huge savings if you order the daily special.

Skip the Drinks

We all know we should be drinking more water. And drinking a lot of caffeinated, carbonated, sugar-filled drinks isn’t good for us and can even lead to diabetes in adults. Those drinks can also hurt your pocketbook. Many restaurants including fast food chains count on drink sales to make a significant portion of their revenue. This is especially true if the restaurant offers alcoholic drinks on the menu. Skip the drink, opt for water, and save money as well as making a great choice for your health.

Take Advantage of Coupons and Deals

Look in your local newspaper for coupons and specials available at your local restaurants or go online to restaurants.com or groupons.com to find the best deals at national chains. There are a lot of great coupon deals out there. Take a little time and make a game out of finding these “hidden treasures”.

Make a Meal of Sides or Appetizers

Some of the best-priced items on the menu can be the appetizers or side dishes. When we eat out, many of us may not be all that hungry. Sometimes just a salad, or a bowl of vegetables or soup and a roll is enough. If you take a group, you can order one appetizer and split the check. This is a great way to combine saving money with socializing with friends.

Bring Your Own Wine

If you enjoy a drink with your meal, but don’t like paying restaurant prices for a glass of wine, consider bringing your own bottle. Many restaurants offer the option of BYOB and are happy to serve you drinks from your own bottle. In some cases you will pay the same prices for a glass of wine in a restaurant as you pay for the entire bottle. That means more for to share!

Order Pizza

This option works best if you are going out with a group of friends. There is no better option for feeding a large group on a small budget than ordering pizza. If you go out for pizza, be sure to ask about their specials. Chain stores like Pizza Hut offer deep discounts when you order more than one pizza. Bring a large group and the savings can really add up.

Save Money with Your Phone

There are a lot of great apps available for free that can save you money when you dine out. Here are a few you might want to try:

  • DealNews
  • Scoutmob
  • Groupon
  • Yelp
  • Living Social
  • Bite Hunter

It may take you a little time to download and figure how these apps work, but the savings are worth the effort.

Skip Dessert

It’s no accident that when you sit down at your table at your favorite Denny’s the first thing you see are photos of tempting desserts. Resist the urge to indulge! In many cases the cost of dessert alone can be nearly as much as the meal itself. Instead, stop by the store on the way home and pick up a gallon of ice cream and save your money for something important.

Value Menus

Many restaurants offer a special value menu. For instance, Denny’s offers a value menu that includes choices for as little as $2-$4. You just can’t beat those prices. So when you are deciding what to order, make sure you look for the value section of the menu first.

Get “Social”

Did you know many restaurants offer regular patrons special offers or discounts for liking them on Facebook? The next time you visit your favorite restaurant ask them if they offer any Facebook deals. Here’s another tip: Search for your favorite restaurants by name on Facebook. Go to the restaurants Facebook page and look for coupons or deals that they advertise there.

Discount Cards

Many places offer special discount cards where you collect point, punches, or stars toward rewards, often free food or drinks. My wife and I recently earned free drinks from Starbucks with their discount card worth approximately $10 for the two drinks. Be sure each member of your family gets their own card so they can start earning points and qualify for discounts as well.

Order to Go

How can ordering a meal to go save you money? When you order from the to-go menu you won’t be paying a tip or gratuity and you won’t be tempted to order drinks or desserts. I’ve found that I almost always spend less when I order take out instead of opting for dining in at my favorite restaurants.

Eat Out in Your Own Backyard

If you want to save money and at the same time enjoy the experience of dining out, why not create the experience yourself in your own backyard? Bring out the fancy table linens. Pour a bottle of wine or champagne. String lights and soft music can provide ambient atmosphere. Invite friends over and fire up the grill. Sometimes the best way to enjoy eating out on a budget it to stay home and do the cooking yourself!

Photo Challenge – Food Photos

Our most recent photo theme was Food Photos. Here are the photos we received from the Snapsort community.

4

Picture 1 of 4

"Breakfast by the Pool" at Karama Lodge and Spa in Tanzania. Photo by Brendon Church.

The next photo challenge is: Travel Photos

Please send your photo submission to Photo@snapsort.com, along with your name, and a short description of the photo by the end of the day Thursday, November 29. 

Guidelines:

  • The photo should be taken by you
  • You may interpret the theme in any way you would like
  • You agree to allow us to share your image on our Blog and Facebook wall
  • You retain all rights to the photo
  • Please only submit one photo for this challenge
  • Please include a short description of your photo, along with your name
  • Email your photo to Photo@Snapsort.com
  • Be creative and have fun

World Press Photo 2011

101,254 images were submitted to this years World Press Photo Contest, 5,247 photographers from 124 nations entered. Here are some of the winners:

World Press Photo of the Year: A woman holds a wounded man, inside a mosque that was being used as a field hospital during the demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2011 photo by: Samuel Aranda — The New York Times

1st place Spot News: On Revolution Road, photographer by Yuri Kozyrev
2nd Prize Sports: Scrum Half, photo by Ray McManus
1st place Daily Life: North Korea, photo by Damir Sagolj
2nd place, Arts and Entertainment, Dakar Fashion Week, photo by Vincent Boisot
1st Prize General News, Mubarak Steps Down, photo by Alex Majoli
2nd Prize Spot News, Utoya, photo by Niclas Hammerstrom
2nd Prize General News Stories: Tsunami aftermath, photo by Paolo Pellegrin
3rd place General News: Japan's Nuclear Refugees, photo by David Guttenfelder
2nd prize Nature: Infinity Cave photo by Carsten Peter
1st prize Contemporary Issues: Child Brides, photo by Stephanie Sinclair
1st prize Contemporary Issues: photo by Brent Stirton

Check out all the winners, and tell us which one you like best.