In times such as these eating out is a luxury. Who can possible afford forty-five dollars for one meal out, each week, for a family of four? Although, there are times when going out is almost a necessity, coming home from soccer, dance practice, football games or on those days when everyone is just to whipped to plan a meal. Eating out is so convenient for busy days and days when you just need a break. However, a budget is easily blown to bits when a family of four decides to take a break from their kitchen to eat out. Think about it, on average, forty-five dollars a week times fifty-two weeks is a whopping two thousand three hundred forty dollars a year. Here are some easy to follow tips so that your family can continue to enjoy a night out even while going through this economic downturn.

Beverage Choice: The first suggestion is to drink water. Soda beverages run about two dollars and fifty cents per drink. For a family of four that is ten dollars in drinks alone. If usually a fruity cocktail or draft beer was the drink of choice that could run upwards of ten dollars for just two adult beverages. Water is free, with unlimited refills. Another benefit of drinking water at a restaurant is that is fills you up so you won’t be as famished when your meal arrives. If you just must have an adult drink, ask about any specials or current promotions to save a bit of money. The other tip is to share a drink – just make sure the waitress isn’t peeking shares are individually charged if caught!

Try Something New: You always get the chicken salad so why not try something that the restaurant is trying to promote. These meals are distributed at a discount price to get people to try them. So ask your server or check the insert in your menu. Something new, at a discount, could be your new favorite!

Sign Up: Many restaurants have deals on the internet. If you fill out their customer form they will send you coupons, often buy one get one free type offers, to keep you coming back. Another great things about signing up for these promotions is that around your birthday they pass out free meals, free desserts and such as a gift to you from them. At the very least you are bound to come up with a coupon that gives you a percentage or straight dollar amount off and who doesn’t like to save a few bucks!

Eat Linner: Instead of waiting for dinner try stretching out lunch into an early dinner, late lunch. Meals are often times less expensive off the lunch menu. If you just can’t ask for a lunch portion at dinner. Many restaurants will do this, allowing you a less expensive meal with almost the same amount of food. Portion sizes are often so out of control at dinner time that a lunch size meal will do the job and save you a pretty penny.

Follow the Golden Rule – Share: Sharing a meal is a great way to get a deal. Dinner portions are often served larger than any other time of the day. Dinner meals, at most restaurants, can easily be shared between two people. This is sort of like that buy one get one free deal. If you just can not share a meal make sure to divide your meal when it arrives at the table and take the second portion home for leftovers. Leftovers make a terrific quick lunch for busy professionals.

Ditch Dessert: Is it really worth five or six dollars for one slice of pie or scoop of ice cream? No, if you are craving dessert stopping at a local bakery or ice cream joint it is a lot less expensive. Half gallons of ice cream these days are only around three bucks, pick one up and enjoy a sundae bar at home. What kid or adult, for that matter, wouldn’t love to create dessert? That is an extra special treat after a wonderful night out.