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How to Save When Dining Out

Cameron Huddleston

Opt for smaller portions to trim your tab.

The best way to save money on food -- as you know -- is to cook your own food. But sometimes you want a break from the kitchen. Going to a restaurant doesn't have to be a budget buster, though.

You can shrink the tab by shrinking the serving you order, according to "Steal These Deals" in the August issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Here's how:

Once, all but the fanciest restaurants had you choose from among the super size, the grande size and maybe the gigundo size. Now they are encouraging you to trim your eating-out budget -- and your waistline. Among the hottest trends for 2010, according to the National Restaurant Association, is small, as in small portions, small plates, small desserts -- and small prices.

We’re not just talking about the kids’ meal at Mickey D’s. At Emmer&Rye, an upscale Seattle restaurant, you can order a half- or full-size portion of such fancy entrees as the milk-fed pork chop with asparagus ($11 or $24). The Cheesecake Factory offers 25 small plates, including Ahi tartare ($7). And at California Pizza Kitchen, the glass is half full: It now sells half glasses of wine, for about $4 to $5.50.

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