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Calling all foodies: feeding your expensive taste on a budget

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Alas, foodies we've all been there, it's Thursday and the newest edition of The Westword has made into your hands. Skimming through the pages you might land on the Ask a Mexican for a laugh and check out your 'throw back' bands that are coming into town. But what you are really looking for is the next best eats.

Throughout the years, you've probably encountered ways where you've been able to satisfy your cravings, for that week or month and done so quite well. As foodies we have our own stories, but share the same love and passion for food.

Not to generalize but provide examples, some of us have the means to break the bank and can enjoy lavish meals several times a month. Others foodies equally enjoy food and finding the new best eats, but do not necessarily have the extra cash to dine out as often as our counterparts.

Saving money never hurt anyone, and for us foodies, those extra dollars go far. Wherever you may feel you fall in the ‘foodie spectrum’, make your food experience unique to you! You are invited to explore the quick tips below to help save those extra dollars and have an equally satisfying dining experience:

How to dine on budget:

1. Set a budget—This might seem like a 'no brainer' but you would be surprised how much $1, $5 can add up—and add up fast. Think about how often you want to eat out and how much you are willing to spend. Are you a once a month, once a week, bi-weekly diner? After your bills have been paid, set aside a select amount of money for eating out.

Whether you want to want to keep a jar and add money as you go, or allocate that money in a separate checking account. Online banking has made it easier to track expenses even more so on smartphones and there are also several budgeting apps free of charge. Be sure to remember as a courtesy to your servers include 15-20% (parties of six or more gratuity is automatically added).

2. Research special promotions—Sites such as Groupon or Living Social offer local and national promotions. Many restaurants offer discounted prices, those that are new or want to have their name out in the community. Take advantage, many offer as much as 45-70% off. These promotions do not last long, so plan ahead. Also think about signing up for their newsletter. Some participating restaurants offer a free meal or a discount during or on the month of your birthday.

3. Research local events— Your local magazine will have coverage on the newest events in town. In Denver, one example is the infamous 5280 Restaurant Week , one of the best times to eat out in Denver. Many participating restaurants, low to high scale will showcase their best meals, two meals for $60.

The Taste of Colorado during the summer time is another example, local businesses and food trucks can be found around Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver. You buy tickets and use those as cash for food. You can find anything from Thai food to turkey legs.

4. Happy Hour—Many restaurants offer generous portions and have drink specials i.e. Ladies night, flip night, etc. Typical happy hours times can be between 3-6 p.m., but they vary, make sure to check out the restaurant’s website for more accurate information.

5. Monthly specials—Restaurants like to share their newest creations, often they will offer a dish that is for a limited time only. This is a good way to try out new foods and often at a discounted price.

6. Sampling—You would be surprised by how many people do not take advantage of this. If you ask, many restaurants would be willing to let you try their food free of charge or for a small price. This helps you venture off and try new foods that you otherwise might not get to.

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