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If you are trying to save money in your food budget, here are 8 ideas to save money eating out.

Eating out can be a relaxing experience, but it need not break your budget.

1. Eat out on weekdays

You can save money eating out on a weekday rather than a weekend. Some restaurants offer specials on certain weekdays.

2. Sign up for restaurant emails

Many restaurants offer e-mail notifications with discounts and special offers. Look for signs at the restaurant or at the bottom of your receipt. On top of discounts, many will offer a bonus, such as a free dessert, just for signing up.

3. Share an entrée

The portion sizes at most restaurants are large enough for two people. Consider sharing a meal with your dinner partner instead. Or plan on only eating half the entrée and taking the other half home for a second meal.

4. Skip dessert

Desserts often have a higher profit margin than the main course. And it’s much cheaper to have some popcorn or a bit of ice cream at home anyway.

5. Use discount websites for specialty deals

Discount sites like Groupon offer discounts at local restaurants. And it may help you find new and exciting places to eat.

6. Plan ahead

Planning at-home meals for the week will help ensure that you’re not caught off-guard with nothing to eat—causing you to eat out.

7. Eat lunch rather than dinner

Go out for lunch instead of dinner. Many restaurants offer the same meals for less at lunch time than at dinner time.

8. Use a gift card

Buy a gift card at a discount and then use the gift card to pay for your meal. You can combine this strategy with the other ideas on this list to save even more.

9. Use senior discounts

Did you know that senior discounts at many places begin at age 50? See our Big List of Senior Discounts to see how you can get discounts.

This article was adapted from the article “8 Strategies to Save Money Eating Out.”