BOSTON (CBS) – 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 now. For example, you pick up a rotisserie chicken and some cooked vegetables and roasted potatoes. Then you head to the bakery and get a loaf of bread and a dessert. 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.

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

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

I like to eat out! The best things I make in the summer are reservations. So I am always on the lookout for coupons, early bird specials, two for the price of one deals or specials at the grocery stores who are now competing with the restaurants for your take-out dollars.

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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.

Look to the restaurants themselves and join their e-mail clubs and they will send you coupons. 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 Bertucci’s send me 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 this time of year.

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