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Six Ways to Save Money While Eating at Restaurants

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  If you are intent on saving money, you can simply avoid eating out altogether. But in some cases, you may not be able to skip the occasional eating out to a local restaurant. You may have grown tired of your brown-bagged lunch or have no time to prepare one. When you are hard-pressed to eat out, then consider the following six tips to minimize your restaurant check.

 1.    Select an entrée that has some extras thrown in. If you dine on a budget, your best options are entrées that come with a salad, soup, or dessert. If you can’t finish the rest of the food offerings, then take them home. You can also do the same when you eat breakfast at a fast food chain. You must order, at least, a meal that already includes your morning coffee so that you don’t end up paying for it separately.

2.    Go with an appetizer instead of an entrée. Appetizers like buffalo chicken wings or quesadillas are filling enough to be considered as meals. What’s special about appetizers is that they are normally less expensive. If you eat with a group of people, then you can save money when everyone orders and shares different appetizers. Everyone enjoys the variety of food offerings, too.

3.    Leave out the wine. In restaurants, liquor, soda, and fruit drinks are heavily marked up. This is true even for budget-friendly chain restaurants. Skip the drinks and stick to water. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

4.    Stock up on discounted gift certificates from Restaurant.com. Some local restaurants offer $25 certificates you can buy for $10 and $50 certificates sold for $20.  Having these gift certificates handy inside your purse can help you save money when you are pressed to dine out with friends or coworkers.

5.    Take advantage of the cash back you can earn from accomplishing iDine.com surveys. Register to iDine and get from five to fifteen percent when you dine out provided you complete the survey within thirty days of your meal.  Every survey earns you cash back.  When your iDine earnings reach $20, you will receive an American Express gift card in the mail.

6.    Scour daily deals sites like Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com. They are your prime sources of restaurant discounts. Watching out for promotions featured in daily deals sites also helps you score inexpensive meals on newly opened restaurants in your area.

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