Pop quiz: How much did this dinner for two cost?
(Dinner consisted of: Dungeness crab, sautéed brussels sprouts & a bottle of pinot noir/wine) –
Answer: This dinner for 2 cost (rounded up) a whopping total of $16.00 (broken down to just $8 per person for a full dinner plate and 1 or more glasses of wine per person)! I know..there could be a bit of disbelief, but here is the breakdown after racking up these awesome deals at Fred Meyer (which may be grocery stores such as Kroger, King Soopers, Harris Teeter, etc. in other states across the nation):
- Dungeness crab – $4.97/lb. – purchase of 2 lb. for a total of $9.94 (on sale)
- Fresh brussels sprouts – $1.67/lb. – purchase of a 1/2 lb. for a total of $0.84 (regular price)
- Bottle of Rex Goliath pinot noir – $4.99/bottle – purchase of 1 bottle (on sale – I am not a wine connoisseur by any means, I just like pinot & trying different types! This is a pinot I enjoy that is regularly priced at $8.99 a bottle)
- Grand total = $15.77 (say what?!)
Holy cow (or should I say ‘crab’), we just had an incredible crab dinner for less than $20 for TWO people. I could definitely get used to this.
*Side bar: this isn’t the only time we’ve been able to score a great deal on Dungeness crab at a grocery story. One weekend, two of our friends came to visit in town & our intention was to go to the coast to do some crabbing ourselves. Oregon is really known for their Dungeness, so we decided we wanted to take a try at it. Unfortunately, the weekend weather made more for a ‘Deadliest Catch’ episode with ominous clouds, low temperatures, storm warnings & high winds. We decided to forgo actually dropping cages for crabs ourselves. Instead, we went to our local Safeway (also Vons or Pavilions in other states), and received excellent customer service from an employee in the meat & seafood department. While working with him, he was generous enough to give us a Manager’s Special coupon for 50% off for 6 lb. of crab. With our Safeway club card we received an additional 50% off the total price. We ended up scoring 6 lb. of crab for only $12.97! That is a deal that is pretty close to unheard of. My point for this extra story is that, dinner night in deals like this do not apply to just date nights…they can also be for dinners with friends and/or family!
So how did these date nights on a budget hacks start?
Well see, my boyfriend Andrew & I used to thoroughly enjoy date night Fridays out on the town at a new restaurant each week. We did this for a couple of months until we realized how much this was racking up for eating out per month (yikes). We couldn’t justify these nights out to stay within our budget. Bear in mind, every day for lunch during the work week we make our own meals and do not eat lunch out. We thought that going out each Friday wouldn’t be so bad, but of course you think it’s harmless on your monthly take home income until you start adding up the totals. What we made as a joint decision instead was to only have date nights on the first Friday of each month (as an added bonus: we get triple the points on dining through our Chase Sapphire card – we allocate a certain amount for that one dinner out per month, and pay off the balance on the card right away). Since we did not want to completely deprive ourselves of what we enjoy doing, we started to get creative with creating low cost date nights in to replace all the great meals we would have out on the town (thank you Eugene, for being such a foodie haven – but we can only budget so much to experience dining out every so often).
How do you accomplish creating date night dinner hacks on a budget?
I’m glad you asked that question! Of course, there are multiple ways to accomplish the task of creating date nights in, but I’ll let you in on how we do it. First of all, I think it’s general rule of thumb that purchasing items at grocery stores is always going to be less expensive than dining out. That’s a pretty standard notion. But how to get that extra edge of savings? No, we do not necessarily coupon clip all the time. How we accomplish this is by checking out the weekly ad for the grocery store we intend to do our shopping at. The trick is, instead of pre-planning meals before looking at ads for grocery stores, we formulate which meals we are going to have around whichever items are on sale/a great deal. Hence, why we decided to have a crab dinner – it was explicitly printed in the ad at $4.97/lb. for this week. Plus, you know it’s a pretty stellar deal when you go to the check out stand & the employee helping you says something along the lines of: “You’re the 4th (or insert number) person I’ve seen that’s buying crab (or item on great sale) today!” It then may inspire that employee to grab the great deal after their shift is complete. The total time it takes to create these date night hacks? I would have to say 10 to 15 mins. tops after reviewing the ad. Plus, factor in a couple more minutes to create a list for the grocery store if that’s you’re gig. By allocating less than a half hour over your weekend, you are saving yourself $$$.
There you have it! Date night dinner hacks on a budget. Remember, the following applies to also friend night dinners (like those several ‘Friendsgiving’ dinners that occurred in November), or family nights (game night now features a dinner other than just pizza)! I encourage you to try planning one out for the month of December. It definitely gives a break in the budget for all the holiday spending that may be taking place this month.
By the way, what type of date night/friend night/family night dinner hacks have you come up with? I would love to hear about your successful ideas!