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4 Ways to Downsize Your Dining Expenses

Love to dine out, but not so thrilled with the tab? Try these tips to minimize the cost of your next dining experience.

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Kid-Friendly Dining Deals

Are the little ones taking a big bite out of your dining funds? Many places offer kids-eat-free deals one or two days a week. There’s no need to pay a lot at other times, either. As any parent knows, a lot of restaurants have kids’ menus that offer small portions and low prices to match, but those that don’t aren’t necessarily “kid unfriendly”-wherever you dine, ask if you can get half portions, preferably at half price, for your children.

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Save With Early-Bird Specials

Some of the world’s finest restaurants are taking the early-bird special concept to new heights and offering good-value, prix-fixe menus before the evening rush, often until about 7 p.m. Select some restaurants you’d like to try and call or check the web to see what low-cost menus might be available for early diners, or at lunch.

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Cut Your Drink Tab to Save

Keeping an eye on the liquor tab will also help you stay within your allotted budget, and you needn’t become a teetotaller to do it. Since you pay a lot less for liquor in a shop than you do in a restaurant, buy a bottle and enjoy a drink before dinner, or find a restaurant that has a “bring your own bottle” policy. House wines are often excellent and very fairly priced, and many bars lure customers with two-for-one happy hours. Of course, the simplest strategy is simply to drink less-order two glasses or a half carafe of wine instead of a bottle-to spend less.

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Vary Your Routine to Halve Food Costs

Straying from your regular dining routines can add some spark and save you money in the process. Enjoy your largest meal at midday; in many restaurants the tab for a full meal at lunch is about half the price of a full meal at dinner. Consider alternatives to restaurants; you’ll probably find that you can dine quite well for less in cafés, coffee shops, wine bars, pizzerias, museum cafeterias, and other casual eateries. Order two appetizers instead of an appetizer and a main course-you’ll have plenty to eat and will shave several dollars off the bill-and try to forgo desserts, as those empty calories tend to be expensive.