Saving Money

Dining on a Dime: Back to School Deals

photo: zingyyellow

Cooking at home is the best way to save cash, but it’s nice to go out sometimes, too. Check out Frugal Foodie every Friday for a selection of the latest coupons for casual and fancy fare.

It’s back to school season and some dining establishments have got their creative juices flowing, offering free deals in exchange for a donation to support local schools or other charitable organizations. Read along to see how to get free appetizers and cheesecake, cheap frozen yogurt, restaurant week bonuses and discount gift cards, among other deals!

1. Sticky Fingers

Bring in a ream of unopened copy paper to support schools near the Greenville, S.C. restaurant. Donors get a free appetizer valued at up to $7.99 with the purchase of an entree. Deal runs through Sept. 30.

2. The Cheesecake Factory

Donate $5 or more to Feeding America, and get a print out coupon for a free slice of cheesecake. Coupons are not valid in New Mexico. The first $7.75 of your donation (the value of that cheesecake slice) is not tax-deductible.

3. D.C. Beer Week

From Aug. 20-28, enjoy special happy hours and other beer-focused events during D.C. Beer Week. Washington City Paper has a detailed list of events, including $5 pints at Meridian Pint on Aug. 23, and a $70 beer cruise on Aug. 22. 

4. Ted’s Montana Grill

Use a print out coupon to save $5 on a purchase of $15 or more. Excludes alcohol, tip and tax. Cannot be combined with Restaurant.com gift certificates. Participating locations only. Good through Sept. 19.

5. Kansas City Power & Light District Restaurant Week

From Aug. 20-29, participating venues are offering $10 lunch menus and $25 to $30 dinner menus. You’ll also get a free gift card with each meal — $5 at lunch and $10 at dinner — good at the restaurant for a future meal.

6. Baja Fresh

Save $2 off a purchase of $7 or more, or $5 off a purchase of $15 or more with print out coupons. Participating locations only. Good through Sept. 4.

7. Restaurants Unlimited Inc.

Through Aug. 22, save 25% on gift cards at the restaurant group’s 20 brands, which have locations in 11 states.

8. Restaurant.com

Coupon code “STEAK” at checkout gets you an extra 70% off already discounted gift certificates to local venues. The code expires Aug. 23. Restaurant.com usually prices $25 certificates at $10. (Spend $20 to get $50; $30 for $75, etc.) With the discount, you’ll pay just $3, $6, or $9. Each restaurant sets conditions regarding the number of diners, days and menu items a certificate can be used for, so check the fine print before you buy.

9. Orange Leaf Yogurt

On Aug. 20, the San Antonio yogurt shop will offer a back-to-school special from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Get a 16-ounce cup with any combo of flavors and toppings for just 99 cents.

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.