A free lunch may be hard to find, but a half-priced one is just a few clicks away.
For starters, meet www.restaurant.com, a website where you can buy $25 vouchers toward meals at eateries near you for as little as $10 or even $5. You can also bid for these and other restaurant gift certificates on eBay
Another useful website is www.dinnerbroker.com, which helps you make reservations at many fine restaurants and offers you 10% to 30% off the meal price if you dine during nonpeak hours.
What's interesting about these arrangements is that they're in force in some of the nation's more elite eateries, those that normally wouldn't want to be associated with anything like discount coupons. But the restaurant business is a tough one, and when the economy is sputtering, even fancy places are willing to offer discount coupons if they're called "gift certificates." At restaurant.com and dinnerbroker.com, for example, you'll find New York City's Aureole and the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse -- OK, along with Senor Swanky's, too.
You'll find other ways to save money on food in this "20 Money-Saving Tips" article. (Examples: "Examine restaurant and store receipts closely, as they often contain errors (sometimes intentionally!)." "Plant a raspberry bush. Each time you pick a cup of raspberries, you'll be saving yourself a few dollars.")
Here are a few more money-saving articles:
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of eBay.