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How To Get Cheap Meals At Popular Restaurants

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By Andrea

Inexpensive meals don’t have to be cheap, skimpy, or sup par.

In 2010 you could get excellent meals for less than $5; some for as little as $3.99!  Want to see some examples? Check out 3 Buck Bites.

Kim Komando sums it up well:

So, you have $3 in your pocket and you’re hungry. But a fast food value menu isn’t your style. That doesn’t mean you have to go hungry. You just need to know where to get the most bang for your bucks. I suggest that you start at 3 Buck Bites. This new site was put together by Citysearch. It lists amazing dishes for $3.99 or less. The dishes are hand-picked by its so-called dictators. You won’t find many burgers on the site. Instead, you’ll find dishes like chicken stew with quail eggs. Or, check out some of the ethnic picks. They will send any foodie into seventh heaven. Right now, the site covers major cities. If your city isn’t covered, don’t let that deter you. You can register to submit your best $3 picks. All you need do is write a small review and photograph your dish. Oh, did I not mention that all dishes are photographed? These photos will definitely whet your appetite! 

— Kim Komando

Following are the lots of other great ways to get cheap meals at popular restaurants…

How To Get Free Meals At Restaurants

Hey It’s Free! is a good place to start. Here you can get birthday freebies and restaurant coupons and certificates for joining various restaurant clubs.

If you want to eat out with the whole family, many restaurants allow kids to eat for free (with the purchase of an adult meal). Some of them will allow 2 kids per 1 adult meal. When my kids were small, my husband and I would split an adult meal and the kids would still eat for free. This article is a good example, but nights and offers change from city and city and state to state.

Of course, you can almost always get a free meal (or dessert) on your birthday just for asking.

How To Get Cheap Meals At Restaurants

Many restaurants are now offering meals for $5 or less.  You can even get free food.

A site called $5 Dining is a search engine for $5.00 meals. Currently, they only list restaurants in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, but they’re expanding slowly.

Other Tips For Finding Cheap Meals In Restaurants

  • Become a mystery shopper to trade a bit of your time for a good meal.
  • Skip the expensive soft drinks and order water with your meal instead.
  • Purchase gift cards in advance from Restaurant.com, especially when they are selling $25 certificates for $5 to $7. (They do this quite often.)
  • Share entrees when dining in restaurants. Most restaurant meals are large enough to serve 2 or more people, so splitting one portion into two usually results in 2 standard adult-size servings anyway. (Consider tipping as if you’d purchased 2 separate meals though.)
  • Order appetizers only. Most of the times when I eat out, I am full from the bread, salad, and appetizer — so I end up taking the entree home with me. It makes sense just to skip the entree instead.
  • Order off the lunch menu, instead of the dinner menu. Lunch is served as late as 4PM in some restaurants. Most of the time, you get the exact same items (just slightly smaller portions) and the price is several dollars cheaper at lunch time, as opposed to dinner time.
  • Skip the wine and dessert. Save those for special occasions.