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14 ways to save when dining out

1. Slash your everyday expenses. Think one less specialty coffee, soft drink and candy bar a week.

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2. Keep your eyes open for new restaurants in town. They typically offer grand opening specials.

3. Check your local newspapers for advertisements of lunch and dinner specials, early bird specials; look for coupons, too.

4. Take advantage of the chambers of commerce and visitors centers -- even in your own town. You'll find great restaurant discount coupons.

5. Limit eating lunch out; try brown bag lunches.

6. Do lunch instead of dinner. Lunch menus usually offer the same entrees as dinner, just smaller portions and a smaller check.

7. Dine out during the week rather than on the weekends. Often the menu prices climb over the weekend.

8. Go vegetarian. Vegetarian entrees are usually less expensive than ones made with meat.

9. Go ethnic. Some ethnic foods are better bargains than others. You can get a lot of food for the money in Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and Thai restaurants.

10. Dine early. Many restaurants offer specials before 6 p.m. It's perfect for making a show on time or for parents who need to make an early night of it.

11. Share an entrée or stick with the appetizer menu. Many restaurants serve portions that are too large for one person to finish.

12. The markup on alcoholic beverages in restaurants is high. Instead of having a drink with dinner, have a glass of wine or some brandy after you get home.

13. Have a candlelight dinner at home, and then go out for coffee and dessert.

14. Instead of eating in a restaurant, order out! It's customary to tip a few dollars to the delivery person, but not as much as at a restaurant, where the usual tip is 15 percent to 20 percent.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Updated: June 13, 2008
 
 
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