Money Matters – Good Stuff Cheaper: Eating Out

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Dinner

(credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

420x316-grad-lee Dee Lee
Dee Lee is a Certified Financial Planner who received a diploma in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Eating out is one of America’s favorite past times and mine too.

I like good food and particularly I like good food I don’t have to cook. But I am also cheap!

So no I am not going to tell you to stop eating out, just do it smarter. I am not going to cover all of the new websites out there like Groupon or CBS Local that offer you deals where you have to buy a certificate to get 30 to 50% off your dinner. We did that earlier in the month.

This is about coupons and cheap meals! They are often available in the Sunday papers or online. Type in “restaurant coupons in the Boston area” and all sorts of resources pop up.  Try www.couponclippers.com. Put in your Zip Code and local retailers pop up. I found a coupon for the Cast Iron Kitchen in Maynard.

Some of the restaurants have e-mail newsletters and if you sign up they will send you coupons. I have sitting on my desk a coupon for Bertucci’s restaurant. And Not Your Average Joe’s sent me a coupon for a free entrée and dessert for my birthday. Not a bad deal. Again, these are coupons; I have not paid anything to get them.

Try the website Mommy Saves Big. I found coupons and links to many chain restaurants. Most requiring you to sign up for their newsletter to get the coupons and deals but if you eat at some restaurant regularly with the kids you can get some good deals.

Another site I found Get Restaurants Coupons offers coupons from national chain restaurants. I found a coupon for a free dessert at the Cheesecake factory and several for the Olive Garden for a free dessert and a $5 off two dinner entrees.

One of the best deals I found was a three course lunch for $3.19 with much larger portions than Weight Watchers suggests at The Fife and Drum restaurant at the North Eastern Correctional Center in Concord. It is open 4 days a week, Tuesday thru Friday, 11:30 to 12:30. (978-371-7941) And yes it is in a prison!

They train inmates for jobs once they are released. Food is diner style and plentiful and I met many regulars from Concord who eat there several days a week.

Listeners also suggested eating lunch out instead of dinner, having a drink at home before going out to eat and having dessert at home. All small ways to cut the cost of eating out.

Try the early bird specials. I know I can hear you saying that’s for the old folks and maybe it is but you can save money and you avoid the crowds. Eating at 5:30 is the trade-off and often you can get a three-course meal for what you would have spent on one entree.

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