Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Discount Dining – The Diva Way

In these tough economic times, one of the first luxuries people tend to cut back on is dining out. Whether you’re going out for a family dinner or a romantic night, add in a few drinks or appetizers, and the bill quickly climbs.

With the exception of an occasional trip to McDonalds (often when we are on a road-trip), the Diva family prefers to eat at home. Mommy Diva loves to cook and to try new recipes, and in addition, cooking at home is very budget-friendly.

There are, however, ways to eat out quite economically if you do a little homework first.

Kids Eat Free: Several chain and family-oriented restaurants offer “kids eat free” nights once a week. Do a little research online to find these restaurants in your area.

Online Dining Deals: In the Twin Cities, there are a few radio stations - FM 107.1
and K102 - that offer half-priced restaurant gift certificates to great local restaurants. Even the Minnesota Twins have partnered with some very popular restaurants, such as Bellanote and The Melting Pot, to offer half-priced dining deals. Act quickly, as these sell out fast.

Newspaper Coupons: If you’re looking for a bargain meal, check out your local newspaper for restaurant ads and coupons. Even if they don’t have coupons, the ad may mention happy hour or other food specials that can save you money.

Happenings/Entertainment Book: The Diva family buys two Entertainment books every year, one to keep in each car, and we use more than enough of the coupons in them to make up for the $35 charge. Most coupons in the book are for “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” entrees at restaurants that range from fast food all the way to formal dining. New books for 2009 are currently on sale with free shipping at
www.entertainment.com, or buy them through a school fundraiser.

Restaurant.com: My favorite way to save money when eating out is Restaurant.com. This site offers discounted gift certificates to local restaurants throughout the country. $10 value gift certificates are $3…..$25 values for $10….$50 values for $20…$100 values for $40. You don’t even have to wait to have them shipped. Simply order the certificate online and print it out in minutes. Certificates are good for one year. Remember to read the fine print for exclusions. Some restaurants may have a minimum food purchase requirement or may only be good on certain days. Also, remember to tip the waiter on the full value of the meal before discount.

Spin The Deal Strategy: My best money-saving strategy for dining out is to put a spin on the normal Restaurant.com offer by using a coupon code to further reduce the cost of the gift certificate. Frequently, Restaurant.com distributes codes for 70% off (and sometimes 80% off) the already discounted certificate price. Right now through October 15th, use code EIGHTY upon checkout to get a $25 gift certificate for only $2. That’s 80% off the normal price of $10 for a $25 gift certificate.

$25 of food for $2? Now that’s dining the Diva way.

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