Dining out can be a real treat, but it can also cost a lot of money. At a normal family sit down place after tax and tip a meal for just Glen and I can be upwards of $40 and we don't even have a cocktail with dinner. Here are a few ways to save money when taking your family out for dinner.

Stay Away from Weekends

Eating in a restaurant midweek can cost significantly less than eating out on Friday or Saturday night or Sunday morning. That's because on slower days like Wednesday, places like to have specials and deals to get you in the door. Those deals can save you a lot of money. Also keep an eye on group buying websites for deals and you can save even more.

Early Birds - Not Just for Grandma

Visit a restaurant before 6pm and hit up the early bird specials. Glen and I usually eat about 5, so this isn't unusual for us. Even though they're usually associated with the older set, a lot of times any customer can take advantage of specials - no AARP card required. Again, top a group buying deal on top and save even more. It's a nice way to go out with the family and still be home in time for baths and bedtime stories.

Eat Before Dinner

Really. It's OK. Having a light snack like an apple can help you reduce calorie intake at dinner. Pair it with a full glass of water and you'll probably be less likely to order an appetizer and a huge meal with dessert to boot. Studies show that people who ate a high fiber snack like an apple roughly 15 minutes before eating a meal ate about 200 calories less at meal time.

Going Social

If you're a social media kind of person, make sure you like or follow your favorite restaurants on Facebook and Twitter. Many places offer social only deals for their friends and followers. All you have to do is make sure you show your server your phone or coupon or simply mention that you saw it on their social media page to get the deal. Another rapidly growing site is Foursquare. Many establishments offer money off your bill if you check in when you get there.