I'm enjoying finding ways to save on doing the thinks we love - like eating out. We are fortunate to have many great vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants in the area, with our favorites including Ethos Vegan Kitchen, Dandelion Cafe, Infusion Tea, Cafe 118 and B3 (Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux). Of course, I'm on all their e-mail newsletter lists and love receiving updates along with the occasional coupon (Infusion and B3 have the best coupons!)
Other than an occasional trip to Season 52 or Amura, I can't remember the last time we ate at a chain restaurant. I love supporting small, family-owned places, and I've found that these types of restaurants are doing more to keep eating out affordable. At all the veg places listed above, along with our favorite local Italian place - TerraMia (which is definitely not veg but has some good options) - the kids and I can generally eat lunch for $20. I can imagine lunch for three at Panera or Crispers would cost at least as much, and the qualify of food doesn't compare.
Since I don't cook on Sundays, we often find ourselves at Harmoni, a local market, bistro and wine bar that tries to "Go Local" as much as possible. In addition to supporting the local food movement, we love to take advantage of family night, which includes free kids meals.
We've also been using Orlando Sentinel's Dining Deals and Restaurant.com to buy discounted gift certificates. I prefer Restaurant.com because you download and print the certificates yourself (rather than waiting for them to come in the mail). In browsing their website recently, I noticed that they had Cafe 118 gift certificates available.
My husband's new business includes a Rewards Mall where we can buy from tons of popular retailers, including - you guessed it - Restaurant.com and receive rewards points to spend on future purchases. When ordering through his site, I was excited to see that we also got a 20% discount on the certificates. I ended up buying $100 in gift certificates for $32!
If you use Restaurant.com at all, please consider ordering from his site. All you need to do is create a free account, and you'll recieve the 20% off plus rewards points on your next purchase!