Ask the Readers: How Often Do You Eat Out?

By Ashley Jacobs on 27 September 2011 (Updated 4 October 2011) 190 comments
Photo: Dominic Alves

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Angie W, Hollie, and Lezlee for winning this week's contest!

There's no way around it, everyone has to eat. If you are frugal, chances are you opt to make your own food as opposed to eating out. But every once in awhile, be it for social or convenience reasons, a dining experience at a local restaurant tends to be the norm for most people.

How often do you eat out?  Once a week? Every other week? Only on special occasions? When you eat out, do you do anything to save money? 

Tell us how often you eat 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 — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, October 3rd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after October 3rd 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.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Selene

We eat out at least once a week.

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Selene

I Like you on Facebook as Selene Montgomery

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Joye

On average only about once a week and it is normally pizza, there are not alot of yummy options around me.

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Carson M.

I eat out maybe 1-2 per month unless I'm away on business where I have no choice but to eat out everyday. Even then, as long as I have consistent access to a kitchen and a grocery store, I try to avoid eating out as much as possible.

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Loren

I eat out once or twice a week. Never chainchow, typically ethnic, lots of variety, little bites here and there. Grazing, I call it, and a fun activity with friends.

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Angela Wells

We eat out about twice a week. We usually try to drink water and get specials when we got out.

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Angela Wells

I like you on FB and I get your feeds through Google blogger.

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Christie

Usually about once every 2 months or so. It is a real treat for us, and we try to go somewhere that we really will enjoy as a family. (Sometimes though, one just really wants a double cheeseburger from McD's, but those wants are few and far between, lol) For the past 6 months or so, we have had to travel for family things, so we have eaten out a bit more, but usually try to keep costs down. If we got to a fast food place, we share one large fries as a family, we only get water to drink, and have side salads as our veggie. Since McD's is usually about $8 - $10 for our family of 4, it's not been too much of a budget-buster. But we have bigger goals in life than eating out, so our focus is on those goals (and Disney World is totally worth it!)

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Jimmy

I eat out primarily one day a week... I will eat our on Saturday with the motorcycle group I ride with. I usually avoid eating out as I can usually eat healthier at home, but when with a group of people, out and about, that is hardly an option.
When ordering I usually can find a healthy choice to go with the beer - got to balance the carbs. LOL

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Amanda

It depends on the strict definition of "eating out". If you include buying drinks through a drive-thru, then my answer is almost every day. If it's just a meal, then once, maybe twice a week. As for those drinks, I try to go during Sonic's Happy Hour when the sodas are half-price.

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Amanda

I already 'like' on Fb.

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MWB

My husband and I usually eat out about twice a week. We eat out more or less depending on how busy we are.

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Lani C

We eat out about once a week.

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windkey

First, we only eat out for special occasions or if we're given a gift certificate. Then to make it stretch we often ask for a leftovers box when the meal is served and put half in the box which makes one meal into two effectively cutting the cost in half.

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Amy

We eat out once per month if we want to go to a nice restaurant or twice per month if the kids want fast food and we can tolerate it. I keep an eye out for coupons. But my favorite restaurant doesn't have coupons because it's a small local one.

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Christy W

We eat out about 2x a month for our date night. Yum! It's nice to have a bread from cooking.

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Jen Ferris

Out of 21 meals per week, I probably cook 3 or 4 of those at home. So, I hate to admit, I eat out about 80% of the time. For the past 3 or 4 years I have promised myself that I would start cooking. I buy cookbooks. I cut out recipes from magazines. Still nothing.

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Sarah

I eat out rarely, maybe 4 times each year. We have restaurant and date money built into our budget, so when we go out, we don't try to save money. We treat ourselves!

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Nicholas

I use to eat out only during the week for lunch and whenever I went out with friends. now I am trying to cut out the lunch during the week by bringing my own lunch to work.

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Noel

Never.

As everyone would expect, its tough economy so no job guarantee. We plan to buy a condo soon so we are saving for the down payment as we know the mortgage issues are going to drive us nuts. And finally, we have a 3 year old who has special needs so we will need money in future for him.

Every penny saved is penny earned..

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Maggie

I eat out probably once every 2 weeks or so. Because I'm trying to pay down debt, because I have some basic cooking skills, and because I don't mind eating the same leftovers for lunch a few days in a row, it's easy enough to not go out since I've set my mind to it.

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lostAnnfound

To actually eat out in a restaurant, maybe once a month. Take out for pizza or grinders, about four times a month.

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Monica

We rarely eat out- for occasions and the dollar menu when we don't have time to cook. I always drink water when we eat out, it's cheaper.

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Monica

I like you on facebook!

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Monica

I tweeted! http://twitter.com/#!/MonicaJamer/status/118688533849440256

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Holly

We eat out at a sit down restaurant at least once a week and then we normally hit the fast food restaurants for at least one kid or the other on the way to sports practices another 2-3 times a week.

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Brenda Faulkner

Not often - once a month maybe. We pick up fast food about once every two weeks.

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Brenda Faulkner

I "like" you on Facebook!

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I eat out almost exclusively when I am on vacation. At home it is more hassle to eat out than to make dinner - and so very expensive.

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Guest

Usually just once

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Becky

I eat out probably once a week or so. About half the time, it's someone else's treat though. :-)

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Rikki

I eat out maybe once or twice a week. I usually cook enought the night before for lunch the next day. I give myself an "allowance" and eating out, and any other wants come out of that money for the month. I then put the remaining money for the week in a jar. Once the jar is full I take it to coin star and use that money for a want I have been saving up for.

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Guest

I only eat out once a week. I live in Chicago where dining is usually expensive, so I find Groupon and Restaurant.com deals before heading out. I also have a lot of food sensitivities and find that I don't cheat as often if I make my own meals at home and surround myself with things I enjoy that fit my dietary restrictions.

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Liz

Too often, although we are trying to cut back. I would say we go out maybe twice a week right now for a meal, plus maybe an extra one or two times just for drinks.

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Alex

2 - 3 times per week. Way too often in my opinion. I really need to figure out a sustainable solution to my eating out.

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KarenJ

We eat out twice per week, once on Friday night which is usually pizza or burgers and on Saturday night which might be a regular meal. We almost exclusively eat out with coupons from Restaurant.com, Living Social, or our local newspaper daily deal vouchers, so that results in at least one entree free. I would say we spend between $60-$75 per week. We do not eat out during the week at all. I take both lunch and dinner to work and my husband also packs his lunch and eats dinner at home. We gave up Friday night for a couple of weeks, but found we missed it too much. We don't do much else, so this is a big treat for us. I should also mention that we are in our 50's and don't have children at home.

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Canyak

One to two times per week. Sometimes we'll use a Groupon and try someplace new.

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Brandon

I definitely think that eating out is okay as long as you don't do it everyday. I usually eat out about 2-4 times a week. Just think about it, there are 3 meals during a day and 7 days a week. That's 21 meals! I don't think eating out should be looked down upon because many people say its so much cheaper to make and bring your own lunch to work for example. Food is food and its necessary. You're buying food for yourself anyway so I really don't mind spending money on food that I enjoy and will eat.

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Stefany

We usually eat out once a week.

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Keith

I usually eat out once a week or so. I generally use a groupon (or the like) to save money.

liked on facebook!

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Amy Brown

Ha lol I eat out because I am too lazy sometimes.

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Kristen

We used to eat out once a week, but now that we are trying to cut back on everything it is more like once every two weeks, at places like Pizza or Panera. The times they are a-changin'.

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Once a week. It is usually on Sundays after church when we are working away, and Saturday nights (date night with my husband) when we are home.

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Stefany

I "like" you on Facebook.

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KelR1

Frequently! At least a few times a week. It's my biggest financial weakness/downfall, because I love to eat and try new places, and I hate cooking (probably because I'm bad at it!). I do use coupons whenever possible, and I have frequent diner cards for some places. Also, my husband and I will sometimes split entrees or order appetizers as entrees. So it's not always super-expensive. Unless, of course, I order a glass of wine and/or dessert...

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KJR

We eat out at least twice a week sometimes more when we are litmited on time to get places. We enjoy new ideas to be thrifty. Thanks for your help.

Guest's picture

We only eat out on very special occasions, generally though if someone else is buying, I on't say no. If we are on a long drive with the kids we might stop for a quick lunch someplace, but we pack snacks for the car, too. My husband has been out of work since the week after our second kiddo was born, 20 months ago. Money is obviously very tight around here. Our unemployment is ending in four more weeks, so eating out is even less of a priority than it was before. It went from "luxury" to "totally out of our league". I blog about money, frugality, unemployment, cooking and parenting on a budget of zero hoping to find a community of others in our position (99ers). Instead of eating out, I'm trying to organize a food swap with other people teetering on the edge of poverty.

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Rob O.

Sorta depends on how you define "eating out." I typically leave work campus for lunch 4 times per week. And we grab take-home 2 or 3 nights per week on average. We're trying really hard to prepare more evening meals at home, but aren't very organized about that yet.

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Guest

I eat out very very rarely. Am vegan and try to never eat food that is not organic, don't live in a big city so it is virtually impossible to find a suitable restaurant. Sometimes break the rules when traveling but always regret it!

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Becky in GA

Too Often! I do try and use coupons and drink water to help reduce the cost.

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Erin

1-4 times a week. This is extremely variable and includes the occasional week when I don't have a lunch packed one day. This is a huge change from a not-so-distant lifestyle that included lots of eating out/having drinks with friends, so I'm currently very pleased with that number.

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Karen

Once a week, for sure, sometimes twice.

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Yes, I 'like' you on FB.. which is how I learned about this survey!

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Guest

I eat out atleast 3 nights a week if not more!

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Guest

We go out to eat about once a week or less usually with a Groupon or similar deal. We always order water.

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Rebekah

We eat out about every other week, and also stick to a strict eating out budget of $120 a month for our family of three.

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Cathy Harrell

We (the fam combined) eat out about five times per week. That's about two lunches for the DH and I, along with one dinner for all of us. I count take-out as eating out because it is prepared food, ready to eat.

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Ben L.

We eat out a couple of times a month.

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NL

Once a month to once a week. There have been months of no dining out but bringing pizza home. We don't spend money on drinks when dining out; just order water. And try to use debit/credit card perks.

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NL

Facebook Liked

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Becca

Twice a week: usually Fridays and Saturdays.

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Becky

As a couple, once a month or less. Occasional lunch individually at work or with a friend.

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Cynthia Pitman

I like you on facebook.

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ERHR

Between my low-sugar diet and our reluctance to spend money we could otherwise put toward an upcoming vacation, I would say our rule in the past several months is to not eat out at all. The exceptions are when we travel and it's unavoidable and when we are invited out with friends, which is about once or twice per month. And even when I go out with friends many times I eat before I go and don't order anything. Most of my friends know about my diet so it's not too awkward.

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Cynthia Pitman

We went from eating out several times a week to not eating out at all. On July 23 my daughter and I decided to do something about our weight. We had talked about only eating out once a month but decided on not even that since we have tried that before and it didn't work. We usually go out on Christmas but this year we are even considering staying home and making something we like.
I am glad we aren't eating out, during the past three years I lost my business and nearly my house yet through all of that we ate out, how foolish, we are on the right path now.

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Wilma P

I usually eat out once a week....on Sunday after church.

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Aaron

Two to three times a week. And, always try and bring a coupon.

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I eat out 1-3 times a week.

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Lisa

We eat out only a few times a year on special occasions. My son works at a restaurant and often foots the bill.

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Guest

My husband and I eat out together 1-2 times per month, usually with a coupon or groupon. We tend to like the taste and cost of home-cooked food even if all we have for dinner is poached eggs with cheese on English muffins.

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Lezlee

We eat out twice a month, at most, unless there happens to be a family birthday in that month. To save money, we go during happy hour for drink specials, and we have a local "deal conncetion" here where we can get gift certificates for restaurants at a discount.

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Darla

RARELY. Once a month - TOPS. After watching Food Inc, I educated myself on where food comes from & eating out is less appealing than ever. Plus, I am frugal - so eating at home comes natural to me.

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Nancy

We eat out once or twice a week and usually only when we are out of town because our town doesn't have any great restaurants.

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Eric

I eat takeout a fair amount, but nothing expensive. I do eat out and have a nicer meal maybe every week or two.

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Eric

Also like you on FB and have for a while. :)

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Eric

I Tweeted, under the name @starkeee:

http://twitter.com/#!/starkeee/status/118790907586818048

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Hollie

We usually eat breakfast out 1x a week and then dinner out 1x a week.

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Jennifer

Once or twice a week with the work crew. Once every two weeks or so with the hubby.

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Betty

I eat out maybe once every two months. It's usually for a social/work event. When planning, I try to suggest places where the prices aren't sky high. Of course I'm tempted to eat out more often, but I reason with myself that I like my cooking better anyway.

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Betty

I liked you and your post on Facebook.

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Betty

Tweeted a response on Twitter. http://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/118801527140921345

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Stefanie

We probably eat out 1-2x a month, because we simply don't have the money otherwise. I do like using groupon/ living social for places we know we like or have been wanting to try to save some money. This past weekend we saved a bunch of money because it was my partner's bday and we took advantage of a couple of free birthday meals for her - but we probably won't go out to eat for another several weeks now that we went out more than once within a couple of days.

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Dave

Happens in fits and starts. This week we don't really plan to at all, but last week I ate out every day for lunch (as if I have money to burn...) and we ordered dinner in on Friday.

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Sylvia Rajsk

I eat out once or twice a week.

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Ed D

Twice a week......more breakfasts than dinners.

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Garon

We eat out at least once or twice a week. Used to be more until we got poor.

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Guest

I eat out only on special occasions, i.e. birthdays, etc. When I do, I only order a starter/appetizer, never a main meal.

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Guest

Hardly ever. Maybe 3-4x year.

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Raina

Well, this is kind of weird for me to answer. I never eat out if I'll be the one paying. I'm frugal and don't want to spend money on that sort of thing. However, I do eat out multiple times a week when a guy (re: date) is paying. That's just one of those female advantages...

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Esta

About five years ago we started limiting restaurant meals to very special occasions.

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TrishB

Every couple of months. I'd eat out more often if I could afford it. I don't mind cooking, but I've never been quite able to duplicate decent Indian or Chinese food.

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Kat

Once or twice a week, but we rarely pay full price. Lots of deal sites, a number of them with free 50% off coupons, make eating out more palatable for the wallet.

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Kat

Liked Wise Bread on FB too....how'd I miss that before!

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Gene

2 lunches and 2 dinners

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Paul

Depends on the season. Summer and Christmas/Winter about 3-5 times a week because of all the birthdays and festivities. Spring and Fall it slows down to about 1-2 a week. I still prefer to cook, because I try to shy away from the salt and other processed food.

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Michael

We eat out about twice a month. Usually once at a restaurant and we pick up fast food about once a month.

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Linda V.

I eat out at least twice a week and on special occasions, although I try not to eat out as much. But it's extremely difficult when you have a chef as a bf who also loves to eat! However, I must say that every time I eat is a special occasion for me. You see, I love love love food (I would consider myself a foodie) and enjoy eating both home-cooked creations as well as a vast variety of ethnic foods. When I eat out, I do try to save money. I use places such as Open Table which racks up points for you if you make reservations to restaurants on their website (after 2000pts they send you a $20 dining check to use towards an Open Table restaurant), Restaurant.com- which I buy gift certificates that cost about 70%+ less than the actual value of the certificate, coupons from ads or online coupons, and lastly, I buy vouchers from various online food deals for restaurants from places such as Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com, etc. All of these places are great to use for dining on a budget, whether you're going out to eat for your weekly meal, or going out for a special occasion!

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Christina

I count buying lunch at work as "eating out" because it's a meal I could have cooked myself. So... 6 times a week. I really like eating and the stuff I make myself just isn't as satisfying...

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Renee

we don't eat out at restaurants due to allergens :)

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Renee

I like Wise Bread on facebook