By Sabah Karimi
Whether you're heading to your favorite restaurant or fast-food joint, the cost of dining out can make a big dent in your budget. Americans spend an average $936 on lunch outside the home each year, according to a 2013 Visa (V) survey. Dinner at a restaurant can be twice as expensive when you factor in the cost of drinks and dessert. Here are seven of the best apps to help you save on dining out.
Find the best local deals at area restaurants, tapas bars, breweries and cafes in a few taps and swipes with the DealNews app. It's easy to use and will give you a chance to hone in on only the best deals of the day -- everything is vetted by deal experts so you don't have to worry about expired coupons or fake deal alerts. Check out the Editor's Choice feature if you need some ideas, or browse the newest and hottest deals.
Big city dwellers can find exclusive restaurant deals with the free Scoutmob app. What makes the pickings on this site different from the rest is the deals are curated by a team of on-the-ground Scouts. You'll receive restaurant recommendations that might prompt a trip to a brand new dining hot spot or venues that are off-the-beaten path. Deals are updated frequently.
3. Groupon (GRPN)
If you're ready to branch out of your comfort zone, download the Groupon app to search for local deals. From prix fixe menus to deep discounts on a single meal, the app can help you find package deals on dinner and drinks in a flash. Keep an eye out for Groupon's own local specials where you can get an extra discount on all deal purchases over a few days. If you don't end up using your Groupon by the time the deal expires, you can still use the amount you paid toward your next purchase.
4. Yelp (YELP)
Read unbiased reviews of that place you've had your eye on for a while, and snag a great deal for your next visit with the Yelp app. Just look for the small green price tag next to the business name to find out about available deals. Most discounts are for a certain dollar amount off your purchase or a free appetizer. You can see star ratings and reviews of some of the most popular dining destinations in town to make the most informed decision.
Like Groupon, LivingSocial presents you with dozens of restaurants, cafes and eateries offering deep discounts on the latest menus. You can use the app to search for deals in a single city or multiple cities – an attractive feature when traveling. Just make sure to read the fine print in detail and make note of deal expiration dates. Some restaurants limit the deal to dine-in only and may have other limitations.
Another deals aggregator site, BiteHunter brings you a comprehensive list of restaurant deals from dozens of sources in real-time. Use this app to find everything from happy hour specials to brunch discounts in your neighborhood. A unique feature of this app is the "BiteBuy" function that lets you make your purchases without having to enter your billing information every time. Use the filter to narrow down choices by type of cuisine or even by a specific location.
Purchase restaurant deals using your smartphone or tablet with the Restaurant.com app. This app eliminates the need to print out coupons and vouchers, and also gives you exclusive access to mobile deals. Take advantage of the built-in mapping and directions feature to locate that new dining venue within minutes.