We all know it’s cheaper to cook at home but when that craving for pizza, tacos or Chinese hits, it’s hard to say no.  While indulging occasionally won’t ruin your budget, ordering out multiple times a week will.  Luckily, there are tricks you can use to lower your bill without giving up takeout completely.

Choose places with free delivery or go pick up your order

Even if you order the cheapest thing on the menu, delivery fees can easily cause you to spend more than anticipated.  Depending on where you order from, certain restaurants tack on an extra dollar or two if you don’t order the delivery minimum.  The easiest way to avoid the fee is to place your order online or over the phone and tell them you’ll pick it up.  Obviously, it isn’t as convenient as having them come to you, but you’ll be saving money.  Another way to avoid delivery fees is to order from places that don’t charge one.  Seamless has a “Free Delivery” filter which eliminates any restaurants that don’t fit the criteria.  DoorDash also clearly lists its delivery fees so you can choose wisely.

Earn cash back on your order

Want to get paid to eat?  No, we’re not pulling your leg.  It really is possible, you just have to take advantage of cashback offers.  There are a couple ways this can be done.  First, you can place your order using a cashback credit card.  Each card issuer has their own rules about how much you’ll earn from restaurants.  If you don’t already have a cash back card, an alternative option is to download a cash back app like Dosh.  Just link your credit or debit card, eat at a nearby restaurant and you’ll be rewarded when you pay for your meal.  The cash back percentage varies based on the restaurant.

Get coupons sent to your inbox

Don’t pay full price for your meal.  The easiest way to save money at your favorite restaurants is to join their mailing list. Most places will give you a special discount off your first order just for signing up. Plus, anytime they kick off a new promotion, you’ll be emailed a coupon code.  If you prefer not to clog your inbox, you can always just search the restaurant’s name followed by the word “coupon” to see what you can find.

Refer a friend and save

One of the best ways for companies to promote their business is through word of mouth.  That’s why many offer referral programs.  How it usually works is you’ll invite a friend to try a restaurant or food delivery service at a discount.  Once they sign up and place their first order, the company rewards you with a discount as well.  In this case, spreading the word about UberEATS and Grubhub can help you and your friends save money.  With UberEATS, just share your invite code via email or social media.  When a friend uses the code to place their first order, a $5 discount will be automatically applied to your next order.  GrubHub offers a similar program except your friend will get $12 off their first app order of $15 or more.  Once they’ve completed the transaction, you’ll be rewarded with a $12 discount on the app.

Join a delivery subscription service

If you have food delivered to your home on a regular basis, consider signing up for a subscription service like Postmates Unlimited.  For $9.99 per month or $95.88 for the year, you’ll receive free delivery on all orders over $15.  Aside from delivery fees, you’ll also be able to avoid surge pricing.

Shop around

Some restaurants appear on multiple delivery platforms which means the pricing may not be the same.  Google the name of the restaurant and look at the restaurant’s description.  There may a line that says “Order” which will tell you all the sites you can use to place your order.  Compare the pricing on each site including delivery fees and discount codes to which one scores you the biggest savings.

Purchase discounted gift cards

Stretch your money a little further by purchasing a discounted gift card for your favorite restaurant.  Sites like Gift Card Granny, Card Pool and Card Cash, all sell gift cards for less than face value which automatically saves you money. 

Make your own copycat meal at home

You probably don’t want to be lectured but you can save yourself a lot of money by cooking at home.  The internet is full of copycat recipes you can use to create a meal that tastes just like the one your favorite restaurant makes.  Find one you that fits your taste buds and skill level and give it a try.