8 Tips for Saving Money on Chinese Takeout

Chinese food may be cheap, but there are still ways to save on your General Tso's habit.

Chinese takeout is even more reliable than the mail: Neither rain nor sleet nor heat nor gloom of night … nor even Christmas stops most Chinese restaurants from delivering the goods. I’ve callously put delivery drivers at risk by ordering Chinese food during terrible weather many times, and it always comes through.

That’s why Chinese takeout has become a staple for anyone pressed for time or cash. It can be consumed without owning utensils or furniture and is available almost anywhere.

But all that convenience doesn’t mean you can’t save even more on your General Tso’s chicken. Here are a few ways to cut the price of your Chinese takeout.

1. Order for Lunch

As with most restaurants, Chinese takeout prices will usually be lower at lunchtime. Take advantage and …

2. … Save Your Leftovers

Chinese restaurants usually don’t skimp, which is a bonus since the food is so heavy (hooray for all that breading and frying). Chinese food also holds up well in the fridge and is nearly as good the second time around, whether cold or hot.

Add it up and your one takeout order could last two or three meals.

3. Get a Combo

Just like McDonald’s, a lot of Chinese restaurants allow you to make your meal a combo. Most restaurants offer a dozen or so dishes as combination platters, allowing customers to couple their food with their choice of rice, an egg roll or a soda at a bargain price.

These deals are usually cheaper at lunch and cover most popular dishes, from chicken and broccoli to lo mein.

4. Share Your Meal

Big servings make for easy sharing. Chinese food makes a great companion during movie night or game night. Dishes like fried rice and steamed dumplings are made for sharing.

Most Chinese restaurants sell dishes a la carte in pints or quarts. If you didn’t know (I had to look it up), a quart equals two pints, and many restaurants sell the bigger serving at a slight discount. Load up on quarts and you’ve got yourself a feast.

5. Load Up On Coupons

Chinese menus often come with coupons you can clip for discounts. Common throw-ins include a free can of soda or soup if you spend above a certain amount.

You probably won’t have to go far to get coupons. If you live in apartment building where even one person gets Chinese delivered, that restaurant’s menu and its coupons will end up under your door whether you like it or not.

You can also check coupon websites like Restaurant.com to see if your local Chinese place has any offers.

6. Pick It Up

Yes, putting food on the table without leaving your house is basically the American Dream and the delivery drivers who bring it are saints. But those tips add up. Save yourself some bucks and make the trip yourself.

7. Make Your Own

You know how all that breading and frying and oil makes American Chinese food so filling and delicious? Well, it also makes it pretty unhealthy.

If you want to make things easier on your wallet — and your health — while still enjoying Chinese cuisine, you may want to start preparing your own versions of your favorite takeout dishes. Plenty of recipe websites feature at-home versions of your favorite, minus all the oil. Check Pinterest or your favorite food blog for options.

8. Use a Restaurant Rewards Card

Some rewards credit cards award cash back for restaurant purchases. Here are a few cards that offer points, miles or cash back for your takeout spending.

Before you apply, be sure your credit score is high enough to qualify. Many rewards cards require good or excellent credit. You can check two of your scores for free on Credit.com.

Image: sturti

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