Fancy Dinner on a Budget

The good thing about being frugal is that you get to save money on things that are unimportant so you don’t feel bad about spending on the things that matter. I know you don’t need a fancy meal to show your significant other you love them. But, you know what?  It sure is a nice gesture. Today  I have some tips  so you don’t break the bank when you treat your loved one to a fancy dinner.

Tips for dining out

Pay Less:  You don’t have to pay full price for your dinner out.  At you can get gift certificates to restaurants for less.  During promotions, you can get them for as low as 10% of the face value of the certificate.  You can find a list of restaurants near you here.

Avoid the crowds: Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year which means chances are pretty good most restaurants will be booked.  My advice is to take your sweetie out on an off day like Sunday or even for an earlier meal such as a very early dinner or late lunch.  This way not only are you avoiding the crowds but also premium prices due to high demand.

Fixed price is a good thing:  To simplify service and attract customers a lot of restaurants offer a  fixed menu for a discounted price.  Getting a full meal course this way is always cheaper than ordering a la carte.

Don’t go all out: instead of each selecting a full course dinner, sample  together dishes from the menu.  For example when we go out my husband and I usually order one appetizer, one salad and two entrees.  We share the appetizer and the salad and each get an entry.  That way we sample dishes without us ending over stuffed and our wallets empty.

BYOB: When we lived in Pennsylvania, BYOB restaurants were very common because getting a license to serve alcohol is very expensive in that state.  Bringing your own wine is  a great way to really have it all.  You can find nice bottles of wine regularly for around $10-$15.  Even after the corking fee, you are likely to pay less than the cost of two glasses of wine from the restaurant menu.  Always make sure to call in advance to see if your restaurant does BYOB and what the cost is.

Tips for eating in

This is probably the best way to have a fancy meal for less.  By cooking your own fancy meal you can afford a nice steak and lobster meal for a fraction of what it would be at a restaurant.

Go for quality: If you are going to take the time to do this at home make it worthwhile.  Get quality ingredients that will deliver great results at the dinner table.  Save by buying on sale.

Keep it simple: Even if you are a pro at cooking, keeping the menu simple will help you enjoy more of the evening instead of spending the time laboring over complicated dishes.

Don’t forget to set the mood:  The food is just a bonus, after all it is about spending time with your loved one.  Don’ forget to set a nice ambiance: candle light, set the table, etc.

Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s Day for your special someone, don’t forget that what you are celebrating is love.  That’s nothing to skimp on.