By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Oct 23, 2008 at 10:46 AM

October is Dining Month on All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, special features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food. Bon appetit!

Everyone's little uneasy about the economy right now, and likely, the first thing that's getting cut in your budget is entertainment. But before you start cutting back on juicy steaks and evenings out on the town, you may want to take a look at other things that might be cutting into your budget and stealing away your eating money.

Scott and I have had several crazy things happen this year that when we investigated them, we discovered that our fun money was being sucked up by external food forces! So, I'll share what we've discovered and maybe it'll help you get a couple extra pennies to pay for a night out.

1. You know that "buy six cereals, get $10 back" display that shows up regularly in one of our large local grocery stores? Make sure you get your $10 back. On both occasions where I decided to buy cereal in bulk, the $10 never came off my grocery receipt and the teller sent me to the customer service counter to get the $10. Both times the answer was that they had an incorrect box in the display, either of the wrong brand or the wrong size. Moral of the story: make sure you get the deal you think you're getting.

2. When you buy something in the grocery store that says "Save $X now" make sure you take the receipt off and hand it to the teller. Otherwise, more often than not, the coupon stays on the product until you get home, and you succeed in successfully saving nothing at all.

3. If you're going to buy wine or beer, do that before you go into the grocery store. Many wineries and brewers offer coupons these days for a couple bucks off the purchase of a meat or vegetable in tandem with their wine or beer.

4. Watch your restaurant bill. The two big money suckers in restaurants are included gratuity and erroneous extra charges. Make sure your restaurant tab doesn't have included gratuity before you tack on another tip (this usually happens with tables of six or more, but some places do it regardless), and check that what you ordered, and only what you ordered, appears on your restaurant tab. If you pay by plastic, it's never a bad thing to later check your statement to make sure that the charge only appears once. Sometimes credit card machines reset, or another error occurs, and the charge comes out twice.

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to