It’s lunchtime and you’re craving delicious burritos from Chipotle, but you’re wary of spending too much money. Food prices have been rising and if you eat out often enough, you’re probably searching for cheaper available options. While it may not be apparent at first, there are a number of ways to save money when you decide to dine out, including when you choose to do so at Chipotle:
In Store Gift Cards
You don’t have to buy a gift card for others. You can buy one for yourself and save in the process by purchasing a Chipotle gift card when you are at the restaurant. There are usually several denominations available near the cash register. If you purchase a $25 Chipotle gift card, you get the bonus of a free burrito, bowl, salad or taco.
Secondary Market Gift Cards
If you frequent Chipotle on a regular basis, it makes sense to purchase gift cards on the secondary market at a discount at such sites as eBay or the many gift card discount reseller sites. Chipotle gift cards can almost always be found at a 10% discount, and on rare occasion as high as 50% off the retail value. The key to realize this savings, of course, depends on two important factors. First, you need to use it and not place it in a drawer where it gets forgotten. Secondly, you need to make sure that you’re not going to eat there more often than your would regularly because you know you have the gift card.
It is well worthwhile to create an account on the Chipotle website for their newsletter. You will receive emails from time to time highlighting their latest promotions and deals which can save money, as well as special events that can sometimes score you some free food.
First, using coupons is a great way to save money. Many restaurants know that customers love coupons, so they’re usually readily available. Chipotle has been known to give out coupons for either free items or a percentage off the final price. Look around online or on the store’s website for coupons.
Skip The Drink
Buying a drink usually costs an extra couple of dollars when you go out to eat. If you’re concerned about your budget, do you really need to purchase a $2 soda or bottled drink? Of course not. Luckily, Chipotle is the type of place where you can bring your own drink with you. You can also grab a cup for free and fill it with water. Or you bring your meal home or back to work and grab a drink that’s much cheaper.
Skip Chips and Salsa
Chips and salsa might seem like a necessity for any dining experience at a Mexican restaurant. After all, who doesn’t like chips and salsa? They’re delicious and are a great side to any meal. But they also cost significantly more money. Prices vary depending on the state, but chips and salsa at Chipotle can cost anywhere from $2 to $3 extra. You can probably do without the chips during your next meal.
Skip The Guacamole
OK, this is a difficult one because their guacamole is so good. Like chips and salsa, guacamole is a delicious spread that you can’t help but want to include on your burrito. Unfortunately, unlike many other restaurants, Chipotle charges $2 more for guacamole. The next time you order a burrito, you might have to decide whether your love for guacamole is really worth spending another $2 on your meal.
One of the great things about eating at Chipotle is that you can pack your burrito full of delicious meat, vegetables, rice, and beans. Everything aside from meat and guacamole are included in the burrito price, so you can fill the burrito until it almost falls apart and you can ask for extra of these items. Of course, this means that doing so allows you to split the burrito with a friend. Both of you will get your fair share of the meal, and all for about $3 or $4 each, which is much better than paying full price.
If you have a smartphone, certain social networking apps such as Yelp or Foursquare are a great way to potentially earn deals for free or discounted food. Often, when you check-in to a restaurant, you’ll be rewarded for your patronage. This could be a free drink, a free side of chips and salsa, a free burrito, or 50% off your order. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to add these apps on your phone and to see if there are any deals offered at your local Chipotle.
Two Meals in One
Because Chipotle’s burritos can be so large, you might be unable to eat the entire burrito during one meal. Why not save half of it for later? Eat half the burrito for lunch or dinner and save the other half for your next meal. This way, instead of spending $12 on two meals, you’re only spending $6 on one meal. Making two meals out of one trip to Chipotle is a great way to save money.
Buy a Kid’s Meal
Unless you have a very large appetite, you might be able to get away with buying a kid’s meal to satisfy yourself. A kid’s meal comes with two quesadillas or tacos, bag of chips, and a drink for half the price of a normal Chipotle burrito. It’s enough to satisfy your basic lunchtime hunger cravings, and it’s cheap enough that you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating out.
If you follow Chipotle on any social networking site such as Facebook or twitter, you might learn about free burrito, taco, or salad offers happening throughout the year. Some of these offers vary by location and some by month. For instance, some locations offer free children’s meals one day a week while some offer free meals if you keep a receipt from a certain past transaction.
Unless you have a food allergy or other reason for choosing a specific meat, you should evaluate the meat choice in your burrito. Some meat is more expensive than others and your burrito will be priced accordingly. Additionally, adding extra meat to your burrito will cost more money. Even if you love extra meat, it’s probably not necessary to shell out more money for it since you can load up your burrito with other free toppings such as vegetables, cheese, or sour cream.
For years Chipotle has been steep discounts to those patrons that have the gumption to dress up in an aluminum foil costume (a not to their famous burritos that are wrapped up in the same material) and go to their local shop. The past price has been $2 for a burrito, but it may vary. Whatever the price, it has been a lot less than you would normally pay for the food at regular retail price.
New Store Openings
If there is a new Chipotle opening in a neighborhood near you, you might be able to score a free meal. it has become tradition for the stores to open the day before their grand opening and offer free meals to all those that come. While lines can be long (would you really expect anything less when they are giving out free food?), it can be a great way to score a free meal.
(Photo courtesy of SupremeCrete)