← Go to Epicurious.com

Community Table from Epicurious

from Epicurious

Take your place at the table

Dining out can be expensive, especially if you have a family. But it is important to treat yourself occasionally, and a night out a favorite restaurant always makes for a welcome change from the daily grind. Still, when you're on a budget you need to watch your spending. Still, there's no need to deny yourself one of life's little luxuries. It's perfectly possible to dine out occasionally and still keep the family budget in the black. All it takes is a little know how. So, if money's tight and you think you can no longer afford a night out at your favorite restaurant, think again. Here are some simple tips that will help you save money when dining out.

Dining Out on a Weeknight

Restaurants have their busiest nights on the weekends, and they know it. Owners rarely offer specials or discounts on Fridays and Saturdays, because they know they are bound to have a full house of eager patrons. However, weeknights are another matter entirely, and restaurant owners are always looking for ways to bring in business. That means offering low cost dinner specials to attract customers. Instead of going out to dinner on the weekend (and fighting the crowds)' plan your night out for the middle of the week. It's a great way to treat yourself and your family, and still stay within your budget.

Gift Vouchers

We tend to think of restaurant gift cards as a something simple we can throw into a birthday or Christmas card. But those gift cards are available all year round, and there's no reason you shouldn't be using them yourself. Most restaurant gift cards can be bought at significant discount, sometimes for pennies on the pound. Check with your favorite restaurants to see if they offer discounted gift vouchers. You should also check online. There are a number of websites that act as clearing houses for restaurant gift vouchers, and you can save a bundle if you do a little research.

Share an Entree

Restaurants entrees are typically on the large side. While you can always take the leftovers home in a doggie bag, why not save a little money and share your main course. This is a great money saving tip, particularly for couples on a budget. Now, some restaurants will include a plate charge if you want to share your entree, but this is typically nominal and you can still save a fair amount of cash by simply splitting the main course.

Save on Beverages

While it's nice to glass of wine with dinner, you'll be paying premium prices when you order alcohol at a restaurant. Even soft drinks can be over priced when you are dining out. To save money, stick to tea, coffee, or even water. If you are planning a romantic night out, and you want to share a bottle of wine, wait until after the meal. With the money you save you can stop by an off license and pick up something special for later.

Early Bird Specials

When people talk about early bird specials, they tend to think of retirees. But hitting the early bird specials is a great way to save money, and still take the family out for a nice meal. Early bird specials are particularly great for families with small children. You can treat the family to a night out, and still have the kids home in time for bed, which is great on a school night.

Yes, dining out can be expensive. But it doesn't have to be. It's easy to save money, and still dine out at your favorite restaurant. If your entertainment budget is tight (and let's face it, whose isn't), these money saving tips will help you put a night out at your favorite restaurant back on the menu.

Julia Gomes

› See my posts

Fashion is my Passion..