Last month there was a story in Business Insider about a woman who used Match.com for the sole purpose of getting free meals. There were a lot of daytime talk shows discussing how much of a gold digger the woman was because she estimated that she got $1,200 in free dinners. My first reaction was to scoff at the shallowness of using Match for meals but, in all honesty, I can see where she’s coming from.
After rent, my largest expense is dining out. I developed a love of good restaurants and take out at an early age and dining out is something I could ever fully give up. Making your own meals saves a lot of money (and that’s why I’m a huge proponent of bringing your lunch to work), but I really enjoy the experience of going out to eat. There have definitely been times when I’ve gone out on a horrible date and have thought “at least I got a free meal out of it.” While some may criticize this woman for deceiving men who were interested in her, there are also plenty of people out there who date because “dating is fun,” and not because they’re looking for their future spouse. Several of my friends also have horror stories about creepy guys they met online who were far more motivated by the potential of a hookup than a potential wife.
Personally, setting up dates for each day of the week sounds like A LOT of work. Maybe I’m an introvert, but communicating with enough guys online and then meeting them to score all of those free meals sounds exhausting. I’d much rather date men that I’m genuinely interested in and find satisfaction in staying in and enjoying a Lean Cuisine alone on most nights of the week. I won’t be paying $50 a month for a Match subscription anytime soon, so here are a few tips that I use to keep dining out within my budget:
Eat on nights that offer a special.
There are lots of great restaurant specials early in the week. From All-You-Can Eat Tapas to Ladies’ Night with unlimited wine, taking advantage of a special helps to stretch your dollar.
Score half-off meals with Scoutmob
Most of my dining out decisions are made depending on what’s on Scoutmob. Their app is a great way to find and try restaurants for 50% off.
Find Restaurant Gift Cards Online
Websites like Plastic Jungle have discounted restaurant gift cards. Most of them are for larger chains, but they can help you eat at places like California Pizza Kitchen or PF Changs for 9% to 15% off.
What do you think? Would you ever go on a date someone just to get a free meal?