Stretching your Dining Dollar—How to get the best deal for your meal

November 2013 View more

N2013_11_01_001FINANWhat’s for dinner? Chances are between juggling work schedules, school schedules, and family activities, it’s a lot easier to dine out than prepare a home cooked meal. In fact, according to a LivingSocial “Dining Out” survey, an online money-saving website, the average U.S. adult eats 4.8 meals per week in a restaurant. While it may be more convenient to eat out, restaurant bills can add up quickly, especially if you bring the whole family. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that overall food prices at home and at restaurants will increase three to four percent this year alone. So, here are a few money-saving tips to help stretch your dining dollar without busting the bank.

Frequent Diner Cards

Enroll in frequent dining rewards clubs or customer loyalty programs at your favorite restaurant. Some Naperville area restaurants participate in customer loyalty programs that reward points to members for each visit or dollar amount spent. The points can then be redeemed for restaurant credit. Most of these dining rewards programs are free. The restaurants will also often email you coupons, dining specials, promotional events, and free meals on special occasions such as a birthday or anniversary. This can be a huge cost-savings especially if you enjoy dining regularly at the same establishment. It’s important that you carefully check for any reward or coupon expiration dates. Some restaurants also have meal restrictions or block-out days.

Online Dining Deals

There are a number of restaurant websites that offer dining deals and coupons for Naperville area restaurants. Two of the most popular websites are and They offer daily deals and local insights with printable coupons, as well as flash-sales with deep discounts. There is no charge to sign-up and many discounts and deals are sent directly to your email. Another website to explore is The locally-based website recently celebrated its two year anniversary and features a listing of re-occurring meal deals and special promotions arranged by food type and location.

Gift Cards

Restaurant gift cards can save you dining dollars. For example, you can find reduced-price gift certificates to local restaurants at Gift certificates worth $5 start at only $2 and a $40 voucher can get you a $100 food gift card. Similar deals can also be found in person at local restaurants especially during the holiday season.

Deals of the week

If you’d rather not print coupons ahead of time or sign up for dining rewards programs, you can also save on your dining bill by targeting re-occurring deals of the week offered at many local restaurants. An updated list can also be found at Here are a just a few of the many dining deals worth noting.

• Catch 35: Half priced appetizers Sunday through Tuesday in the bar lounge.
• Tango: $6 lunch special, plus add soup or a salad for $1. Monday through Saturday.
• Jin 28: $4.95 daily lunch specials include main course, rice and egg roll.
• Colonial Cafe: Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree. Mondays 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
• Bar Louie: $1 burgers (toppings extra) on Tuesdays starting at 5pm.
• Sullivan’s Steakhouse: Half priced bar menu specials on Thursday nights.
• Rizzo’s: $3.99 burgers on Thursdays starting at 4pm. $8.99 all you can eat fish fry on Fridays.

As always, dining specials are subject to change and it’s important you read the fine print for restrictions.