How to Save Money on Takeout

How to Save Money on Takeout

posted in: Shopping Tips

Ordering takeout doubled during the Pandemic, according to McKinsey. As the Pandemic recedes, the rapid growth has slowed but ordering in still remains popular.   At my house, we cook a lot – or more accurately, my husband cooks!  Even though we love a home-cooked meal, sometimes it’s nice for someone else to do the work. The downside of takeout? The toll it takes on our wallets. Here are some ways you can save money the next time you order in:

General Savings Tips

  • Choose pick-up instead of delivery to avoid service fees, delivery fees, and tips (p.s. Although you might be prompted to, you don’t have to tip when you pick up!)
  • Order at lunchtime and save your meal for dinner. Lunch prices are lower at many restaurants.
  • To save money – and watch your waistline – get in the habit of sharing with a friend or family member.  Or save a portion of your takeout meal for tomorrow’s lunch. 
  • Look for status discounts that you might qualify for, like student, senior, teacher, and military discounts.
  • Take advantage of combo deals where you can get multiple items at a discounted price.
  • Look for discounts that are specific to how you order, like ordering online or via text.  


Order online

  • When you order takeout on your computer, you can check deal sites or browser extensions* for coupons or cashback offers that can be applied to your order. I use CouponCabin for this and I typically get between $1.50-$3.50 cashback on every order. I’ve occasionally found even bigger discounts, in the 10-$20% off range.

  • On a restaurant’s website or the site of a delivery app, look for a section like “perks,” “offers,” “deals,” or “rewards” section. You might find seasonal promotions or rewards for spending a certain amount, like “Spend $25, Save $5.” 

  • Look for “Invite Friends” or “referral bonuses” for a unique code that you can share with friends and on social media. When someone uses your code, you get a credit and they usually do, too!  


Use your email

  • Sign up for emails from the delivery apps that you use, like GrubHub or Doordash. These platforms have frequent sales and the discounts can be significant, like 20% off $20 at Bareburger. 
  • Sign up for email alerts from your favorite restaurants to be the first to know about seasonal offerings, savings events, and special offers.

Pro Tip: Create an email address exclusively for your alerts and newsletters to keep the clutter out of your main account.


Stay in the know

  • Follow your favorite restaurants on social media to learn about promos and special offers. 
  • Download the apps of your go-to restaurants for exclusive offers. 
  • If you don’t mind text alerts, signing up for alerts will often result in access to extra savings. 


Show your loyalty

  • Sign up for restaurant loyalty programs to earn points towards free food & drinks. Most chains restaurants have one, including Carrabba’s, Chik-Fil-A, and Chipotle. Local restaurants might also have a loyalty program.
  • Discounts may kick in on your birthday, after a specified number of visits, or when you have spent a certain amount. 

First timer discounts 

  • With any meal delivery app that’s new to you, look for first-time user bonuses, like 30 days of free delivery, a discount off of your first order.  UberEats and DoorDash both often have these. 

Pro Tip: these offers tend to have expiration dates. 

Pro tip: Use available filters, like filtering out delivery fees and filtering restaurants by price, high ratings,  and delivery fees.

If you order takeout frequently, consider a delivery pass program. 

  • Here are a few examples of these programs:
    • UberEats Eats Pass: The 1st month is free, and every additional month is $9.99. Delivery is free and you earn 5 percent off when you spend $15+. You’ll get exclusive perks and offers for members, like no “busy area” fee when you spend at least $15.
    • DoorDash DashPass: You get a 1-month free trial, after which you pay $9.99 per month. You also save $4-5 on every order over $12. 
    • GrubHub GrubHub+: Your first month is free and every additional month is $9.99. You get free delivery on orders of $12 or more. 

Pro tip: Before joining, check your credit cards or other memberships because a free membership might be included, i.e. some American Express cards come with a complimentary 12-month subscription to the UberEats Pass. The Chase Sapphire Card and Chase United cards offer 12 months of complimentary DoorDash DashPass. With an Amazon Prime membership, you get 1 year of GrubHub+. 


Go discount hunting

  • Always look for cashback offers and promo codes for restaurants and meal delivery services with sites like CouponCabin.  Browse the site or add the free plugin to your browser, which will automatically search for and apply promo codes, like 40% off your order at Papa John’s, and 20 percent off any iHOP purchase.
  • Check Groupon and LivingSocial for discounts on restaurant gift cards and promotional offers at local restaurants, like 20 percent on local restaurant deals when you use a specific promo code.
  • Check for discounted certificates with local restaurants. You could find savings like a $25 gift certificate for only $10.

Let your wallet do the work

  • Pay with a credit card that offers cashback and rewards on restaurant purchases like the American Express Gold, which offers 4 percent back on food. If you’re looking for a no-fee card, check out the Bread Cashback American Express, where you can earn 2% back on everything you buy (including takeout, of course!).  
    • Make sure to pay your cards off right away so the savings aren’t negated by interest!

Pin it!

How to Save Money on Takeout

We may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. In addition to a handful of affiliate networks, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Follow Trae Bodge:

Smart Shopping Expert

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who has specialized in smart shopping, personal finance, and retail for more than a decade. She has appeared on TV over 1,000 times; including Today Show, GMA3, NBC Nightly News, Inside Edition, and network affiliates nationwide. She has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn, and her expert commentary has appeared in Forbes,, Kiplinger, Yahoo Finance, and numerous others.