Friday, March 25, 2011

Eating Out for (Nearly) Free!

We have never really had room for eating out in our monthly budget. I mean, maybe we catch a $1 chicken sandwich at Wendy's every now and again, but usually we just eat at home. Lately though, we have found ourselves eating out a lot more. Why? Because most of the time we're getting a good bit  of our meal for free.
Here's how:
I've signed up for Chili's emails and get lots of coupons for free stuff (like this one that is running now) as well as a heads up on when they are offering free kid's meals. Since we also often exchange my MyPoints points for Chili's gift cards, we can double up on the freebies and score a (mostly) free meal.
Texas Roadhouse is another restaurant where we've been a couple of times in the last 4 or 5 months. I've signed up to be a VIP Roadie where you receive "free gifts and offers throughout the year." I have a free appetizer in my inbox right now. Since this is one of the restaurants that offered free kids' meals through our library's summer reading program, we have landed nearly free meals there as well. The great thing about Texas Roadhouse is that they provide free bread (with scrumptious cinnamon butter) and free peanuts as soon as you walk in. And with coupons, you can get two free kid's meals with only one adult appetizer. With the bread and the nuts, one adult meal and two kid's meals easily feeds our family of five. So, theoretically we could eat there for about $7 plus tip--way more food and a very fun atmosphere for about the price of getting us all that $1 chicken sandwich at a fast food place!
Register a Qdoba card and receive a free chips and salsa. After swiping your card to buy about 10 etrees, you receive a free etree!
It's the same story for a Panera card: register yours online to receive free offers. I have gotten a free dessert and have $1 off a drink waiting for me right now. It seems that when people give gift cards for small gifts, it's often Panera, so I've usually made my purchases with gift cards and reaped the rewards for free!
And of course there are those free kids' meals deals on different nights of the week. The ones we know about are:
A lot of Steak and Shakes have free kids' meals on the weekends. Sign up for their eClub for free offers as well.
Up to three free kids' meals per adult order on some night's at your local ChickfilA--plus they often have "free fries" nights. Check your local store for dates.
Some O'Charley's locations have free kids' meals on Tuesday nights. "Like" them on Facebook right now and receive a free appetizer as well.
This is a slightly old link, but most of the running deals are listed here.
And of course there is always where most of the restaurants offer deals where you pay $2-5 for a $25 food voucher (minimum of $40 purchase means you have to spend $17-20 for your $40 meal).
I'm sure there are other tricks and shortcuts out there for free or nearly free meals when eating out! I'd love to hear yours!
Linked with Frugal Friday at Life As Mom and The Shabby Nest. Also linked with Thrilling ThursdayFriday Favorites, Feature Yourself FridayFrugalicious Friday I'm Loving It, Finer Things Friday, Foodie Friday and Cheap Thrills Thursday.
The Girl Creative


  1. This is PERFECT for my new linky party, Foodie Friday. Please stop on over and link up!
    Oh - and found you at Shabby Nest!

  2. Wow, great deals. I will definitely take your advice.with 4 kids we are always looking for good deals.
    visiting from Girl Creative Blog hop

  3. Great deals! A lot of these places sound unfamiliar for me; not sure if we have most in Canada. Stopping by from Finer Things.

  4. Thanks for the great info! Love finding new ways to save money!

    Have a great week!