Since food is an essential part of anyone's life, it should come as no surprise that food costs are a significant portion of most people's monthly expenditures. And with the wide variety of dining options available in most cities and towns, many people choose to eat at restaurants for a significant percentage of their meals. And why not? You don't have to cook and you don't have to wash dishes at the end of the meal.
The only problem of course is that you have to pay for the meal, and restaurant meals will cost more than if you had prepared the meal at home. That's the tradeoff - eating is easier, more relaxing and often tastier, but the costs are higher. Most people would love to be able to keep eating out and save money on their restaurant expenses.
Is it possible to reduce your restaurant expenses? The obvious ways to do so are to eat out less often or to choose less expensive meals. Sure, you can do this but being too thrifty in this regard pretty much kills the fun of eating out.
Fortunately there are a few good ways of saving money on restaurant expenses. One way is to eat out at slow times where the restaurant may be running specials to attract more customers. For example, some restaurants have "early bird specials" for people who choose to eat dinner in the late afternoon instead of early evening. Since the restaurant is generally slow during these times, the restaurant owners are happy to give you price break to attract more customers.
An even better way to save money is to use restaurant coupons. Such a coupon will allow you to save money on particular items or save a specified amount off your total bill.
Why do restaurants offer coupons? There are many reasons. A restaurant may be offering new menu items and they wish to entice people to try out the new menu items. So, they offer you a price break if you order those items. Or, a restaurant may wish to increase business during a specific time of year, so they offer a price break to bring in more patrons. Or perhaps the restaurant simply wants customers to order more items per meal than they would otherwise. For example, by offering half off on dessert items, a restaurant can make more money off their existing patrons by getting more dessert orders.
When using restaurant coupons, it is always expected that you will present the coupon when ordering. This way, the server can adjust the bill accordingly without having to redo it at the end of the meal. It isn't the end of the world if you forget until the end of the meal, but servers will certainly appreciate it if you remember to present the coupon at the time of ordering.
When you determine the tip at the end of the meal, it is customary to base your tip on what the meal would have cost without the coupon. Your server will be much happier with your coupon usage, especially if you go there regularly, if you tip accordingly. On the other hand, if the only reason you are going to a generally overpriced restaurant is because a coupon makes it reasonably priced, then let your conscience be your guide when determining the tip.
Most restaurant coupons also have an expiration date. Obviously you should try to use the coupon before it expires. On the other hand, sometimes restaurants will continue to honor a coupon even after it has expired, especially if the expiration date was very recent. The only way to see what will happen in this situation is to ask.
So where can you get restaurant coupons? Often you can get these in your local newspaper. However, it is difficult to get a big supply of these from the newspaper, so if you eat out quite a bit then you are better off getting them online.
Yes, there are some places online where you can get a good supply of valuable restaurant coupons. These can be "buy one get one free" or "10% off" or even "50% off" coupons. There are online coupon services that let you download and print these coupons, and there are places online where you can purchase a supply of these coupons where the amount of money you can save is quite a bit larger than the cost of purchasing the coupons. Check around online and you'll see that there are some great coupon values to be found!