The Best Time To Find Special Meal Deals At Restaurants

Just because you're on a tight budget doesn't mean you can't enjoy a night out. With a bit of advance planning and a few strategic dining decisions, you can enjoy a meal that you don't have to prepare yourself or clean up afterward — without breaking your bank account. The secret? Skip the more exclusive weekend reservations and head out to the restaurants during the week.

Restaurants frequently offer specials and deals on Mondays and Tuesdays, and mid-week lunch specials are one of the ways businesses try to lure more customers to their tables. After hectic weekends, Mondays are typically slower at restaurants, and Tuesdays can mean a calmer pace in the kitchen. As Anthony Bourdain suggested in The New Yorker, weekdays offer the chance to experience the work of chefs at their best and enjoy freshly ordered produce. "Generally speaking, the good stuff comes in on Tuesday: the seafood is fresh, the supply of prepared food is new, and the chef, presumably, is relaxed after his day off," he wrote.

The benefits of midweek service

"Chefs prefer to cook for weekday customers rather than for weekenders, and they like to start the new week with their most creative dishes," Bourdain wrote, adding that weekend dining — particularly in New York — is for tourists and those less in the know. It's not that you'll necessarily receive a bad dish on a Friday night, but a more relaxed atmosphere in the kitchen can yield special touches from the restaurant's team, and the digits on your bill will most likely be lower. Happy hour discounts and dining specials help bring in business during the week, adding extra incentive to consider booking off-day reservations.

If you want to enjoy a meal out, it might be worth clearing your schedule so you can sneak into a dining establishment for lunch or an early dinner reservation on a Tuesday. Then, on Saturday night, you can enjoy a budget-friendly meal you've cooked for yourself at home.