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How to Have Date Night on a Weeknight Without Busting Your Budget

Although usually reserved for special occasions like anniversaries, date nights, graduations or vacations (for Americans), fine dining is an opportunity to dress up and be waited upon like royalty. The fine dining restaurant establishment is a billion dollar industry with sound statistical evidence to back up their high-end allure and pricing.

According to Statista.com The Statistical Portal’s U.S. Consumer Trend report of 2012 the majority of consumers (who preferred fine dining) planned to eat out before their reservations.

The follow up survey report shows, after their fine dining experience, the majority of fine diners planned to spend more (5%) or a little less (4%) in the next six months, depending upon their individual experiences. Wondering what those statistical results mean? Either way, they enjoyed their meals and service so much, they would return and odds are they would spend more!

According to Le Coq Au Vin‘s online menu (located in family theme park friendly Orlando, Florida) the price of their signature meal (for one!) is $24.95 before beverages, appetizers and desserts are ordered.

By analyzing the main ingredient, we can look for ways to have this luxurious French classic: at home (on a weeknight!) for an average family of four.

Loosely translated le coq au vin means “the chicken with wine.” The wine used is traditionally Cabernet Sauvignon, a rich full-bodied red wine named for its grapes and the Bordeaux region that they were originally grown in. Today cabernet sauvignon grapes are grown all over the world and the pricing for that necessary ingredient varies depending upon the variety of the bottle purchased. (paraphrased from Dictionary.com 11:33 19 May 2014)

Here are three easy budget-friendly tips for bringing the best of fine dining home without stress or guilt:

  1. Make life easy on yourself: Plan ahead. To achieve the buttery texture and the depths of the mingling flavors: the chicken usually has to be soaked in about 2 cups of red wine overnight. Don’t let this discourage you from cooking! If you can manage to wrangle your kids out to school in the morning on time: you deserve the opportunity to taste this French classic at your leisure! The 20 minutes of prep time can be drastically reduced by using shortcuts such as; zip top plastic storage bags (for the marinade), pre-cut vegetables/mushrooms and pre-cut raw chicken parts. Measuring the seasonings and proper clean-up is what will take the majority of the time.
  2. Make the most of it: Pricing is EVERYTHING. Whether you shop at a big box outlet store, a fresh local market, or prefer a local butcher make sure you get the most for your hard earned money. Chefs usually recommend cooking with a bottle of wine you would enjoy drinking, but purchasing one expensive bottle of wine for one meal is not in the average American family’s budget. Decide your price range and buy accordingly.
  3. Make the most of the recipe: Consult a professional. Finding a recipe for coq au vin online can be a long and tedious process. Some recipe uploaders skip a few steps or forget to add special instructions when promoting their “family favorites.” The best part of actually finding a well-established method from a trusted recipe master (or mistress!) is the one thing fine dining cannot always guarantee from their mouthwatering dishes and elegant dinner services: leftovers!

(The alcohol in the wine evaporates during the cooking process; follow cooking instructions carefully for the entire family to enjoy!)

For more on coq au vin it’s special ingredients, cooking methods and recipes please visit these links;

1. Whole Foods Market Recipe : offers a way to cut down on marinade time with a slow cooker using fresh Whole Foods produce and chicken.

2.Martha Stewart’s Recipe: features slab bacon and a splash of cognac for depth of flavor, and as Martha always says: “it’s a good thing.”

3. Julia Child’s Recipe Through PBS.org: the late great French cuisine culinary expert’s recipe is broken down in stages with big pictures to simplify the processes of cooking coq au vin at home.