Dining on a budget

There's no need to give up dinner dates if you're on a budget with these savvy dining tips from Ferratum...

“Food is one part of the experience. And it has to be somewhere between 50 to 60 percent of the dining experience. But the rest counts as well: The mood, the atmosphere, the music, the feeling, the design, the harmony between what you have on the plate and what surrounds the plate.”

– Alain Ducasse

For many couples, dining with their partner is one of the best pastimes. From the food itself to the conversation and time spent together, dining is all about the experience.

However, for many dining is considered a luxury or something you only do for a special occasion. But it needn´t be the case. If dining out is something you and your partner enjoy doing, these six tips will allow you and your partner to dine no matter what your budget.

1. Dine During the Week 

One of the best ways to dine on a budget is to avoid Friday and Saturday evenings. Friday and Saturday nights are peak time for diners. In fact, weekends, in general, are the most popular time to dine with many of the more popular places booked weeks in advance.

Instead of dining on the weekend, move “date night” to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Since business is a lot quieter during the week, it´s common for restaurants to offer specials to entice people to dine midweek. Keep an eye out for specials such as 2-for-1 entrees or free deserts with every main meal purchased, for example.

Search for any dining specials in advance via the restaurant´s Facebook page or website. Additionally, be sure to check the specials boards inside the restaurant.

2. Pass on Drinks

Simply put, buying alcoholic drinks at a restaurant can be the difference between dining out or staying at home. Adding just one or two drinks to your meal significantly increases your bill and can easily top a modest budget.

While waiting for your table, it´s tempting to order a drink and then once seated, order another drink. Be warned, drinking at restaurants is not cheap.

In fact, avoiding purchasing drinks of any kind (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and just ordering water is a great way to keep expenses down. You´d be surprised how much a juice or tea can add to your bill.

3. Dine at Lunchtime

In addition to dining midweek instead of weekends, another great dining tip is to eat out at lunch instead of dinner.

Many fine-dining restaurants offer a smaller menu during lunch often with daily lunch specials at a cheaper price.

In most major cities across Europe, you can enjoy a lunch buffet for a set price including tea, coffee, or soft drink. Many restaurants and cafes also offer pre-set lunch menus or “combo” deals are an attractive offer. Between 11 am and 2 pm, you can often pick from 3 or 4 different pre-set choices, which can include anything from a main meal, a side salad and a soft drink or a burger, French fries, and soft drink.

4. BYO

We´ve already discussed how expensive alcohol is when dining. Even purchasing the cheapest bottle of wine at a restaurant can be the same price of two or three main meals.

Why not look for restaurants that allow you to BYO wine? Sure, they will charge a corkage fee but it is a minimal expense in comparison.

5. Use Coupons 

If you and your partner love trying new places to dine, a great way to do this is by selecting restaurants that you have coupons or that you know offer specials. Websites such as Groupon or vouchercodes.co.uk offer daily deals for restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Additionally, keep an eye out for advertisements and coupons in the mail, as well as local newspapers.

6. Skip Entrees and/or Dessert 

Last but not least, ordering just a main meal and skipping either the entrée or dessert is another great way of dining on a budget.

Many Italian restaurants, for example, offer complimentary bread and olive oil before you order your main meals. Similarly, often when eating at Mexican restaurants, you will be given complimentary corn chips and salsa. Take advantage!

Instead of ordering two desserts, perhaps you and your partner can share a dessert. Or why not share an entrée and a dessert with your partner in addition to the two main courses?

Whatever combination you decide, sharing or skipping one course entirely is a great way to save money.

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