The average American family spends $225 a month eating away from home — dinners eaten out, quick snacks grabbed and drive-through coffees. Much of this spending comes about simply because it’s convenient.
In July, I wrote about how to save money when eating out using restaurant apps. In this column, I’d like you to take some time to rethink your eating habits.
Getting organized can help. Figure out how to program your coffee maker so you have coffee ready in the morning. It’s easy to do and can save money. Make your lunch for the next day before you go to bed. It can save money, too. When you’re shopping, be sure to get the ingredients you need to make several simple meals at home.
I’m not suggesting you never eat out again, but when you do, take advantage of any saving opportunity that you can. Lots of restaurants offer reward programs that can save you and your family money. And it can be fun for your family to try different places while getting items free or at a discounted price.
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Here are some you might want to try:
▪ Raising Cane’s. When you become a Caniac Club member you receive a free box combo as a gift for joining (value over $7). Also, you get benefits throughout the year. On National Chicken Finger day — July 27 — you can get a free chicken finger.
▪ Dunkin’ Donuts. Sign up for the perks program that gives members a free beverage when you join, a free beverage on your birthday and a free beverage every 200 points.
Add $10 or more to a Dunkin’ Donuts card with Visa Checkout and you’ll get a $5 bonus if you load before July 30 or while supplies last. Customer must use Visa Checkout in the Dunkin’ Donuts Mobile App or on Dunkindonuts.com in order to receive the bonus. Limit one $5 bonus per customer and per payment card number.
▪ Culver’s. Join Culver’s Text and E-Club and you’ll receive a free value basket with the purchase of a value basket just for joining.
▪ Longhorn Steakhouse. Join the Longhorn eClub to receive a coupon for a free appetizer. Get freebies and coupons throughout the year and a special gift on your birthday.
▪ TGI Fridays. Join the reward club and you will immediately get a free appetizer or dessert. Show your server your rewards card and you will receive free chips and salsa for the table.
▪ Bojangles. Join Bojangles eClub to receive a coupon good for a free half-gallon of sweet tea with purchase. You’ll also get a coupon on your birthday good for a free bo-berry biscuit (with purchase).
▪ McDonald’s. Get a free sandwich of your choice when you download the McDonald’s app.
▪ City Barbeque. Download the City Rewards app or let the restaurant look you up via phone number when you visit City Barbeque. There are other special offers for those who download and use the app. You can get a free drink, a free piece of triple chocolate cake on your second visit and receive a bonus $5 reward on your third visit when you use the app.
▪ Firehouse Subs. Download the app or sign in online to get rewards like meal upgrades and free subs. When you sign up you will receive a free large drink with sub purchase. On Aug. 5, donate a 24 pack of bottled water and get a medium sub for free for H2O For Heroes Day. The water will be donated to local first responders and community groups to distribute to those in need.
▪ Arby’s. Sign up for the reward program to receive a coupon for a free roast beef classic with purchase of a drink. You will receive other coupons via email for discounts and free items throughout the year.
▪ Chipotle. Through Aug. 31, or while supplies last, get a mobile coupon valid for Buy One Get One FREE Chipotle entrée item. Go to the Chipotle SavorWAVs website, click on the Make Your Mix button and choose your favorite ingredients or meal. After you have made your selection, you will listen to a unique musical song (about a minute long) and then you’ll enter your information including your mobile number to receive a mobile coupon. There is a limit of one coupon per person and per unique mobile number.
▪ Dairy Queen. Sign up for the Blizzard Fan Club to receive a coupon for a buy one, get one free Blizzard treat. Get a coupon on your birthday and a surprise on your anniversary. Stop in on July 27 for Miracle Treat Day. Dairy Queen is donating $1 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for each Blizzard sold.
▪ First Watch. Receive a buy one entrée get one free offer when you sign up for the Sun eClub. You’ll also receive coupons for discounts on dining throughout the year.
▪ Baskin-Robbins. Become a part of the Baskin-Robbins text club for special promotions, deals and updates sent to your phone. You will receive a free scoop of ice cream for joining. Text BR to 31310.
It’s often a good idea to check your shopping receipt after you’ve been shopping, whether you’re at a store or a restaurant. Not only can you check for any errors on your receipt, but look for surveys or discounts off your next purchase. Taking a five-minute survey online could save you money the next time you shop.
▪ Kroger is offering a new deal every day for the next two weeks with its Sizzlin’ Daily Deals promotion. I’ve heard that there will be free offers and some will be “cents off” digital coupons.
And there are lots of digital coupons available for school supplies at Kroger. Plus, save $5 when you spend $20 or more on school supplies. Offer expires July 29.
▪ Toys R Us will give you a free lunch kit (up to $9.99 value) when you buy any backpack regularly priced at $12.99 or more. Pick up this offer at a Toys R Us store or get free shipping on it with any purchase of $29 or more.
▪ Celebrate Kentucky’s Signature Industry from 4-7:30 p.m. on July 29 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The day offers fun family activities including arts and crafts for children, pony rides, interactive educational booths, an exclusively equine book fair, equestrian competition, and it’s all free.
Deborah Morris' every-other-week column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get more for less. Go to her website, Fru-gal-friends.com.