Eating out is a treat - more than ever in a tough economy - but there are ways to do it while spending less.
Dine Early - Take advantage of early-bird specials. They're usually before 7pm at most restaurants. Not only are they cheaper, but there's also less chance of a wait.
Bring Sippies - If you have kids, bring their own cups of milk or juice, then the adults can order water. You can typically save $8.00 a meal.
Have Apps at home - Before dining out with friends, invite the group to meet at your home for a glass of wine and an appetizer.
Lunch instead - Save money by dining out at lunch instead of dinner. The prices are lower for the same quality. Also, portions tend to be smaller, so its friendly to your waistline.
Stretch the servings - Entrees are large, so eat half and save the other portion for lunch the next day.
Connect - Sign up for restaurant' mailing lists. They often send coupons for free drinks or desserts.
Watch out for specials - Look for restaurants that offer pairings, happy hour specials, 2 for 1, etc... They are a great way to sample new items for a fraction of the cost.