Ask the Readers: How Often Do You Dine Out?

By Ashley Jacobs on 10 September 2013 (Updated 17 September 2013) 97 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Michelle, Tabathia, and Laura for winning this week's contest!

Many people enjoy dining out, especially if time, groceries, and cooking skills are lacking. However, the cost of restaurant meals — or even just take-out — can add up if it's a regular part of your life.

How often do you dine out? Are there certain occasions where you definitely would (or wouldn't) eat at a restaurant? What do you do to lower the costs when you dine out?

Tell us how often you dine out and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For extra entries:

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    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, September 16th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after September 16th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
    • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
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Good Luck!

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Paul

Once or twice a week.

Guest's picture

We used to dine out a lot. Now it's about once a week or less.

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Luke Liukonen

There was a time where I was dinning out daily, and sometimes multiple times during the day. I weighted the most I ever did at that time, and my pocket book hurt doing it... I've now switched and dine out at most once a week. My health has gotten better, I've lost quite a few pounds, I can't eat like I used to (Pizza hut and McDonalds make me sick) but I feel WAY healthier. You can cut your cost in half by replacing those $5 footlongs for $2.50 Healthy Choice frozen meals.

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Natalie

My fiance and I eat out two to three times a week. Usually on Friday and Saturday nights, and sometimes for lunch after church on Sunday. Also, Special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries are usually spent dining out.

One way that we lower the cost of dining out at a nice restaurant is to split the entree. We will usually order an appetizer and each order a side salad, but the entrees are usually too much food for one person to eat and full of calories. We are both watching our weight, so it's nice to occasionally dine out, but eat only half of the meal. Neither of us are big drinkers, so we order ice water to cut down on the dinner bill, as well.

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Kbryan

We rarely ever eat out. From the food sources to the food preparation, I personally have difficulty trusting anything not prepared by myself. If I want something cheap and easy, I can make it! If I want gourmet I can make that, too!

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mmmontalvs

Growing up, we ate out once a week - on Sundays. I try not to eat out any more than twice a week when possible.

I typically like to eat out only when I probably could not successfully make the same meal at home.

To lower costs when dining out, I like to eat family style with friends.

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Kevin D.

My wife and I eat out once or twice a week. It gives me an occasional break from cooking, and there always seems to be at least one special occasion every month that calls for dining out. I usually order water instead of soda or alcohol to save a few bucks, and I pay with my Amazon Rewards card to earn points. It also helps to order entrees that can become two meals (tomorrow's packed lunch) at a decent price.

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Maria Sz

I dine out 2 times a week, mostly to grab lunch-- just on days I don't pack. I try to pack as often as I can, but life sometimes get in the way, you know!

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Monica

We eat out maybe once or twice a month unless we are on vacation or have a special date night or something. I always order water to save money and will just take sips of whatever bottomless beverage my husband orders.

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Christie

Usually about once every few months, more in the summer as we take advantage of our beautiful summer days and great seasonal restaurants. (I have to say though, I am a good cook, enough that my family would rather eat at home. We are renting an apartment on vacation so I can cook dinners because my kids would rather not go out!)

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Monica M.

My husband and I go out to eat about 1-2x a month. Generally we save up our credit card rewards points and are able to use the points to dine anywhere we want for "free". We like to go to locally owned restaurants rather than chains. We don't do takeout much at all...perhaps twice a year?

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Betty D.

I don't dine out too often. Probably less than once a month. Beside the cost factor, I like my cooking better, and I know it's healthy!

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Rachel

once every couple of weeks.

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Lauren

I typically eat out one day at work for lunch with my coworkers and once on the weekend for dinner.

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Cathy K.

We dine out at least twice a week. After doting on my family the whole work week, I feel I deserve to be waited upon, myself!

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Ernest S.

Unfortunately, I dine out almost every day for lunch, and try to cook dinners most nights. To save on costs, I usually skip getting a drink and stick with water. Also, if you can use a credit card which rewards you extra points for dining out, even better!

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Catherine

At least once a week, sometimes more when I am attending an event and eat out before or afterwards.

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Therese

When our family visits, we eat out almost every day, but when it's just my husband and me, we eat out maybe once a week.

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Sara

Before I started minding my budget, my family ate out at least once per week (not including buying lunches every day from sandwich shops near work). Since we began our cost-savings projects, we eat out no more than twice a month (and bring our lunch to work almost every day).

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Kristina

We plan to eat out twice, but it can be once a week if we have not planned well.

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Elena

We dine out once a week

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Stefanie

My partner and I eat out probably 1-4 times a month.

We use groupons/ living social coupons, local coupon book coupons, and gift cards bought during the holidays, when the restaurants we like had special deals (like by $100 in gift cards, get $20 free) to make things less pricey on our end. We also try to frequent local places where we love the food and feel good about using our money.

Guest's picture

Actually I like to eat home cooked food, so once a while we eat outside.

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KelR1

I used to be terrible about this, because I hate/am not good at cooking. But I've improved in the past year or two. So, unless I'm on vacation, I only dine out 1-2 times a month.

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Gina

Twice a month. I wish I could afford to go out more.

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Patrick

We dine out roughly once a week. It doesn't have to be anything special. Just something to break up the routine of eating at home and give us an excuse to get out of the house.

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Jen

Maybe once every couple of months. I have celiac disease and live Paleo, so it can be difficult to find a restaurant that is safe to eat at. Not only that, but I almost always end up eating a salad because it's the only thing on the menu I can have, and I refuse to pay $12-$15 for some nutritionally void iceberg lettuce and a couple pieces of grilled chicken on top doused in dressing that no doubt has HFCS in it. I'd rather stay home and cook a delicious, healthy dinner for less!

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Liisa

Once a month for a date night. We are very happy using coupons and sharing entrees, often getting an appetizer and an entree and sharing both. We still tip at 20%.

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DeeDee

We eat out once or twice a month unless we are on vacation. I am sad to say we did not go on a vacation this year.

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Mel

Two to three times a week, including take out.

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Mary Happymommy

I dine out once or twice a week.

Guest's picture

We try to have brunch with my mom at least once a month. She lives 20 miles away on the other side of the Coastal Mountains. A family dinner out is probably once every three months, although if neither I nor my wife feel like cooking on any single night, we may make a run to someplace like Panda Express for take out. That may happen once a month. So the total is roughly twice a month.

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Bethany

Once a week

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Lynda

about 4 times a week.

Guest's picture

Love dining out, but I try not to do it as much to save money!

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Laura Jacobson

Hmm...I cant think of the last time I ate out! I do get takeout, but as for sitting down in a restaurant...been years!

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NJGill

Once, maybe twice, a month - when my granddaughters are in town to visit their father I will usually take us all out for breakfast. That's all I can afford. My son (their father) eats out 4 or more nights per week - of course, he never has money to pay back what he's borrowed from me.

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dojo

We never liked dining out for few clear reasons: we cook at home (and mostly from scratch) and it's usually expensive to eat out (not to mention most of the time the food is sub-par).

Even in our 3 week vacation in Croatia this year we decided to cook at home (had an apartment with a small kitchen) and this allowed us to save 800 euro from the entire budget (which was 2,200). It was nice to be able to eat healthy meals and come back from the vacation with money.

Our dining out is maybe 2-3 times a year if not less.

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Lucy Schramm

We probably dine out about 4 times a year. Can't afford it'

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Jess

A few times a week, but not anything fancy most of the time. Working on cooking at home more!

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Meme

We usually dine out once a week, on Tuesdays

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Peg Mooers

always dine out on special occasion plus, a couple times a week. I use coupons when available.

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Ed

We dine out on a regular basis at least twice a week.

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NANCY

We eat out for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or some noteworthy honor that a family member has received. Other than that, about 3 x a month.

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Christina

We used to eat out a lot more, but we tried to cut back to save money, but eating healthier actually got us to stop eating out. I still get coffee more than I should (I try but I can't exactly recreate the drinks I like) but lunches out have almost completely stopped and now we eat out for date nights (or do takeout/delivery) once a week or so and have a special dinner for birthdays or the like. To save money we look for coupons mostly, our town business district sends some for a couple of places we like.

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lani c

About once a week or less.

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Alison

My fiance and I used to dine out or get take-away 3-4 times a week. Now that we're saving up for a wedding, we've cut it back to once a week and use it as an end of week treat. We've both gotten to be better cooks, and we get to spend time planning and making meals together which is great fun.

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Becky

We try to eat out only once a week.

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Jason

About once a week sometimes twice at most. Budget about $100 per month for those meals.

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Bob

We used to each out a lot (a few times a week). Now we try to eat out only on special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, achievements etc...). Sometimes we are out with the kids for longer than expected and it runs into dinner time. They get hungry so we will stop but we try not to do that too often.

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Nancy

We used to spend about $3,000 a year eating out. It was common for us to dine out once a week. This year we budgeted $1,000 for eating out and we are on track to actually spend less than that. From January to mid September this year, we have spent $590 on dining out. This includes the occasional hamburger urge, pizza run, box of donuts, and on-the road emergency stop, as well as planned and much anticipated celebrations. Twice a year -- for wedding anniversary in June and joint birthdays in October-- we splurge on dinner out at our favorite restaurant. The tab usually runs about $150 for the two of us. We are on track to underspend our reduced budget by about $100-$200 -- unless something unexpected happens.

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Rachel R

Since we're newlyweds on a TIGHT budget, we'll treat ourselves to eating out maybe once a month...and even then we like to do it at restaurants where I've picked up a Restaurant.com gift card or doubletakedeal or something comparable!

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Alex

When I was working two jobs, every day. Now that I'm down to one, once or twice a week on weekends. I try to pick the "healthier" option, or aim for smaller portions nowadays.

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Kate Hesser

once per month.

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Dairy Maid

We seriously lowered our food budget when we stopped eating out so often. We have just one rule: we don't eat out just because it's convenient or we don't feel like cooking. Now when we eat out -- about once every few months -- we enjoy it more. Restaurant portions are so huge we inevitably bring home enough food for at least one more meal. Also, we don't order alcohol or sodas, just water. We will definitely eat desert, though -- after all, it's a planned splurge and one that we want to enjoy.

All things in moderation!

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Guest

Maybe once a month, and then only with gift card or savings voucher

Guest's picture

We dine out once a month if there is $$ left in the monthly food budget.

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Robert

We used to dine out a couple times a week. Now we eat out maybe once a month.

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sharon

I hardly ever eat out. I like to cook and can't afford restaurant prices. I also like to eat healthy, and restaurant food is too salty and fattening. But when visiting friends out of town, I enjoy eating out and trying the best of the local restaurants.

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Alix

More than I should -- at least twice a week. But I do make a point of splitting entrees and taking home leftovers; I rarely order something I can't get a second meal from.

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monique

Maybe once or twice a month, but it's typically at places like Chipotle. Nothing fancy. My main concern is food that is healthy and affordable, so it's difficult to find a lot of places that fit the bill.

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Jessica

Usually about 2-3 times a week. I try to avoid going out for lunch during the work week but my boyfriend and I usually go out to dinner on Friday or Saturday and once during the week.

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Trang

We go out 3-4x/week but are trying to cut down to 1x/week. It's difficult...

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Elaine

we used to go out every weekend but now we're sticking to special occasions and with friends which is a couple times a month now.

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Kristine R.

Sadly, way way too much. We really enjoy romantic dinners! I do use a rewards card, though, so we do save on gas and get cash back.

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Lynn

Once or twice a week depending on how tired we are after work.

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Jesse

Two or three times a month, depending on where we want to go and how much is left in the budget :)

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kristina

We usually go out to eat every three to four weeks.

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Molly

We dine out once or twice a week. Usually we use coupons or eat off the value menu.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

My husband and I eat out in a dine-in restaurant once a week with my parents (but my dad won't let us pay for anything). Food is the only area of our budget that we would be able to cut anything more.

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Q

We go out way too much. It's way expensive, because when we go out, we don't get fast food, we go to a real restaurant. We're trying to make an effort to stay in and cook more... but eating out is really FUN, so it's hard.

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chintan patel

every other day, i hate cooking.....

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Marcie Lynn Florance

we eat out about once or twice every two or three weeks

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JMB

About five times a month. Would love to do it more with our busy schedules!

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Diane

We generally eat out at least twice a week. We have a Friday night Pizza Date and we usually eat out at least one other time each weekend. We use coupons when we find them and sign up for emails to get notice of local specials.

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Tina

about once per week

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ReaTex

We usually eat out once a week!

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Jay

Once or twice a week.

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Sabrina Ahmed

We eat out about twice a week. Otherwise, we pick new healthy recipes and try them out. It's a lot of fun!

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Guest

I usually eat out once or twice a month, and we try to make it something really worth it. Instead of spending money at restaurants we try to do something special at home, which means it is less expensive at that we can even feed more people. Also, sometimes we check on groupon.com to make the outings even more affordable.

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Ken

only once a month or less

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Happy Love

We dine out about once a month, but we do carry out about once a week.

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Felicia

Once a week unless exams are coming up, in which case it's more like 3x a week.

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Andrea

I dine out about twice a week.

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Rebecca R.

We eat out when ever I get a deal on Groupon.com, DealChicken.com, Restaurent.com, or EatDrinkDeals.com. Sometimes we use the coupons from the newspaper or recieve in our mail. If all else fails & we really want to eat out someplace besides the dollar menu at the fast food joint, I go to our local chinese takeout. There I can get a lunch buffet to go for $6.00. We go to the park for a picnic as there is more than enough to fed the 2 of us, enjoy the river view, Keep on budget and I didn't have to cook!

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Guest

We dine out mostly on the weekends, especially when we have a crazy busy schedule. We try dine out mostly at lunch, definitely less expensive then dining out for dinner!

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MG

We dine out rarely. Cooking at home is healthier and cheaper. Take-out is a better option. Doing it occasionally makes it special. Getting take-out when we have discounts is even better. By bringing the food home, we save on drinks, tips and side dishes.

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C.j.

I hardly eat out I'm lucky if I get to eat out once a month these. Now if I have a gift card to a restaurant that's different

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Lisa

I eat out once a week plus have coffee out once a week with friends.

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Brenda Faulkner

Only about once a month - too expensive for a family of four!

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Alissa A

I eat out twice a week!

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Sadhna

Once a month is probably a good guess. Having been raised in Asia, restaurant meals were a rare luxury, meant for birthdays and celebrations. I enjoy intimacy of eating at home, filling the kitchen with the smell of good and sometimes disastrous cooking.

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Carmen

We only eat out about once or twice a month; we like to keep our expenses down and actually prefer home-cooked food.

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Guest

We dine out once a week, and often buy one meal and split it.

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Abby

We eat out about once a week.

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Tabathia B

It's very rare that we go out to eat, maybe around 5 times a year

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Deb K

We dine out one or two times a month right now. We really shouldn't be doing it at all, but it's our little treat. We usually use rewards programs or coupons, don't order drinks, appetizers, or desserts. We also don't order anything for our 2 1/2 year old, instead sharing our meals with her. I typically take home half my meal to enjoy as a second meal, too.