6 Tips to Stay on Track During Valentine’s Day

Although Valentine's Day is all about spending time with your partner or friends, dining out together can turn an average evening into a festive occasion. However, with a fancy entrée, wine, and dessert, you can easily surpass your Points™ Budget. The good news: While navigating a rich restaurant menu can be challenging, it is possible to take control. So, treat yourself to a special night with these six dining-out tips:

  1. Relax

    Don't approach the dinner with fear. You're not denying yourself anything, you're making choices about your life. And you're sharing a meal with someone you love, whether it's your partner, your friends, your family, or yourself! How could it get any better than that?

  2. Ask for what you want
    • Scan the menu to create your own dinner. If you want the fish, but don't want the cream sauce, ask for it to be served with the salsa that comes with the chicken, or the fresh herbs from the pasta. If you want veal but don't want it drenched in butter, ask for it with lemon juice and herbs. Fancier restaurants prepare dishes to order, so it's no problem. Less fancy dining establishments are often willing to make changes too. There's no harm in asking!
    • The same goes for the sides. That shrimp dish you want might come with potato gratin, but the roast chicken comes with grilled asparagus. Just ask for the shrimp with asparagus.
    • Tell the chef not to "finish" the sauce. Chefs sometimes swirl butter into a sauce before it's served. Ask if the sauce can be plain, fresh and bright, not "finished”.
    • Ask for recommendations. If the chef cannot accommodate you, ask your server to suggest an alternative, lighter preparation. But ask for what you want the way you want it.
  3. Ask for your meal to be divided

    Meals these days can be served in enormous portions. If your meal surpasses a single serving—and you can use this guide as a gauge—ask the waiter to pack half of it in a to-go box before you take your first bite. That way you'll have dinner the next day too.

  4. Order simpler food, prepared light

    In terms of calories and Points, grilled is usually better than fried; baked is better than braised.

  5. Make smart swaps so you never feel deprived
    • Instead of sour cream or butter on your baked potato, ask for cocktail sauce or salsa.
    • Instead of ordering a cocktail, which can be loaded with sugar, have a glass of red wine instead.
    • Instead of a creamy dressing, ask for lemon juice or vinegar on your salad.
  6. Share

    When dining with your partner, split an appetizer, salad, or dessert. It's called romance and will help you save weeklies for later!

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