Fancy Dining that Doesn't Break the Bank

Most of what Val and I have been posting so has been in regards to pretty heady topics: science, religion, politics, philosophy, etc.  But we've also been shifting paradigms on the small things too, small changes to our behavior or lifestyles that work better for us even if it's not traditional or common.  From time to time I'd like to share these other ways that we've broadened our minds as well, starting with a cheap dinner date idea.

Yesterday was our first anniversary, and the one thing we know we wanted for sure was a nice dinner at a restaurant with a fun atmosphere and excellent food.  The problem was, how to do this when we're living on a tight budget?

We ended up ordering a three-course meal at an upscale restaurant. A small apple and goat cheese salad to start, a cup of roast pork chili verde, and for the main course the excellent pasta of the day with a vodka red sauce, chili verde, house sausage, bitter greens, and a soft white cheese.

All together this should have been a $80 dinner for us, but we managed to eat at this fine restaurant for only $35.  How did we manage that?  We only had water to drink, and we shared all three dishes.  It was a luxuriously slow dinner, we received excellent service throughout, and they even gave us both full portions of soup for the price of one.  Plus we were able to enjoy a larger variety of foods, the pasta alone would have been enough to fill us up if we'd had our own meals.

Anyone else have their own way of doing things that gets them a better experience for less money?  If so feel free to help us keep shifting our paradigms.

In search of reason,



  1. Splitting meals is something Benjamin and I have been doing since we were dating. It's a great idea. We find sharing to be insanely romantic. (It is also rather Weight Watcher friendly for me.)

    Another recent find is heavily discounted gift cards at Costco. You get 2 $50.00 for $75.99. We've used those to go out on a special date and can always share an app., soup or salad, main course and dessert for $50.00 (sometimes wine will substitute the dessert, especially when Breyers ice cream is on sale at the grocery). :)

  2. Two tips to add:

    If you like lemon, adding a squeeze of lemon to your water at a restaurant makes it feel like you've gotten a flavored drink, for free! This has saved me so much money over the years, and is healthier to boot.

    If you're up for splitting a meal, Red Robin is a great place to do it. You can split a meal and get half of a tasty tasty burger and still get free refills on their steak fries. Yum.


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