The Real Reason Restaurants Are Paying You To Dine In

Even if you rely on quick pasta recipes for most of your weeknight meals, cooking at home can be a pain: You have to go to the grocery store, decide which recipe to cook, and then figure out how to pack your leftovers when you're done eating — and it's even harder if you're trying to eat healthy meals on a budget. Ordering delivery food for dinner is so much easier, but these days, restaurants are so desperate to get people through the doors that they'll pay you to dine-in instead of order out. 

That's because food delivery is now the most popular way people dine "out" (or "in" as the case may be). 60 percent of restaurant traffic comes from delivery orders, and restaurant apps are getting so desperate for users that they're offering steep discounts to get customers through the doors of brick-and-mortar eateries (via NBC). Either way, you don't have to cook — so for the customer, it's a win. 

How to save money when dining out

If you do like eating in restaurants, you're in luck. That's because many restaurant reservation apps, like Seated, Craved, and OpenTable, are so anxious to get more people to go to restaurants that they're offering a bunch of different discounts and rewards to encourage people to leave the house in order to get a meal. 

When users book a reservation through OpenTable, they earn points that can later be redeemed to get a discount on future restaurant meals. With Seated, you get a "kickback," sort of like a cash back discount, that can be used to buy gift cards, while Craved gives users a discount on whatever they end up spending on dinner. 

However, some are worried that an overreliance on the apps to bring customers in could result in restaurants losing money. Restaurants have to pay the apps in order to show up in customers' searches, and if they're giving out discounts, that means they're losing money on those meals, too. 

The hope is that customers will enjoy their meal so much that they'll return to dine there even without a discount, but for now, it's the perfect time for coupon-hunting diners to try that restaurant on the corner they've been meaning to check out.