I read recently that the average American eats out four times a week, and that we spend 40% of our food dollar on food eaten away from the home. As much as I enjoy eating out, I have to admit it can take a toll on my family's budget. I always try to find easy ways to save money so we can still enjoy our favorite restaurants.
Look for coupons. Believe it or not, many nice restaurants have coupons available. They can save as much as 50% if you find a "buy one, get one free" coupon. You can find local coupon sections on your city's newspaper website, in special mailers sent to your home, and at national coupon sites. You can also find coupons for local restaurants in the Sunday newspaper coupon circular. We always find "buy one, get one free" coupons for popular chains like Subway, Quiznos Subs and TCBY as well as local restaurants we like.
You can buy deeply discounted restaurant gift certificates at www.restaurant.com. Enter your zip code to find participating restaurants in your area.You will pay $10 for a $25 certificate online, and you can print the certificate immediately. You will save even more by using a coupon code found on a coupon code website (like couponmom.com), paying only $5 for a certificate. The selection of restaurants varies from casual to upscale choices. I used one of these gift certificates for a casual lunch and paid $1.50 for a $10 certificate. We also used one at a favorite elegant restaurant for our anniversary, bringing our $100 dinner down to $75. Restaurant.com also has a program that lets you redeem airline miles for $25 restaurant gift certificates, which can be a great way to use up an odd number of miles.
Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News' Good Morning America. You can find more of her savings tips in her book "The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom" and on her website at www.couponmom.com. Copyright 2006 © Stephanie Nelson
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