BOSTON (CBS) – An interesting fact from the SunTrust survey was that the almost 70% of the respondents blamed dining out as their main reason for not being able to save.

A very simple way to save here then is don’t eat out! And make everything you serve your family from scratch.

Yah when pigs fly! You know that is not going to happen.

According to the Department of Labor over 70% of us eat out at least once a week. We spend close to $3,000 a year on restaurants and often times we may be eating at home but we picked up items from the prepared food section of the grocery store to have for dinner.

New terminology is one “plates” dinner. For example, you pick up a rotisserie chicken and some cooked vegetables and roasted potatoes at the grocery store. Then you head to the bakery and get a loaf of bread and a blueberry pie. You head for home with the dinner fixings and zap most everything in the microwave. Over 50% of our food budget is spent on food prepared for us.

Look for ways to make eating out cheaper. Early bird specials are not just for retirees or at 4 in the afternoon. We frequent a local restaurant, Devens Grill, and the early bird specials go until 6 pm. We arrive at 5:45 and they honor the early bird special prices.

Join the e-mail clubs of your favorite restaurants and they will send you coupons or notices of special deals like 2 entrees for the price of one. And recently Olive Garden was offering 20% off on take out if you ordered online.

Every year Not Your Average Joe’s sends me a birthday present, a coupon for one free entree and one dessert big enough to share. Also Burton’s Grill, Olive Garden and Lucia’s send me birthday coupons to use.

Try the Entertainment book that is published for the area you live in. There are discounts on eating out as well as entertainment, shopping and travel. Books are discounted heavily this time of year.

Try Restaurant.com, where you can buy a dining certificate worth $10 for $4 or a $25 certificate for $10.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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