How To Make Eating Out Less Expensive

Written by on May 13, 2013 in Money - No comments | Print this page


restaurant buffetEating out with loved ones can be a hugely enjoyable experience – until the bill arrives, that is.

However, celebrating special occasions at a local restaurant or taking a break from slaving over the stove doesn’t have to be expensive.


Choose restaurants wisely

One of the most important things to do when planning a restaurant trip is to ensure that it won’t be a disappointment. Get your whole party to check the menu, whether online or in the window, to ensure that no one will be paying for food they don’t enjoy.

Have a look at reviews that other customers have left on websites like TripAdvisor and top table to get a good idea of the experience beforehand too, or you could end up paying over the odds.

You should also find out whether you can take advantage of early-bird or set menus by going to different restaurants. Some will allow you to order cheaper lunch deals as late as 5pm, while others offer discounts on seasonal dishes at certain times of year.

Take advantage of vouchers

Websites like MyVoucherCodes and MoneySupermarket offer vouchers that you can print out and present to your waiter, but there are also mobile phone applications like vouchercloud that allow you to find discounts on the go.

However, restaurants attempt to get you through their doors by advertising in a number of different ways. You might be eligible for money off at a local restaurant when you buy a cinema or theatre ticket, for example, so always be on the lookout for deals.

You might also receive a free starter or a £5 discount on your next visit by filling in a customer satisfaction form. Completing feedback often enters you into a competition too, so it’s well worth giving up five minutes of your time.

Sign up to group deal websites

If you’re looking to enjoy fine dining without the expense, then searching on group discount websites is the way to go. The likes of Groupon, LivingSocial and Wowcher frequently offer gourmet and Michelin-star experiences with discounts above 50 per cent.

They also provide opportunities to test out cheaper venues, meaning you can occasionally snap up a three-course meal with wine for two at less than £20. Sign up to the companies’ newsletters so you don’t miss out.

Join a diner’s club

As the difficult economy has encouraged more people to take advantage of special offers, the popularity of diner’s clubs has rocketed. Upon joining, you will usually receive a card which entitles you to two-for-one meals at participating restaurants.

However, there is often a membership fee, and the eateries involved are limited, so you should always consult the conditions carefully to ensure you will get your money’s worth. Tastecard, Hi-Life Diner’s Club and the Gourmet Society are some of the most popular.

Look out for ‘kids eat free’

Restaurants looking to attract families will often offer a ‘kids eat free’ deal, so budget-conscious parents should make sure to look out for the signs. Chain pubs are particularly keen on this deal, meaning a family of four can often enjoy a roast dinner out for less than it would have cost to cook at home.

Thrifty ordering

Eateries often make their biggest profits on drinks, meaning you can save a significant sum of money by ordering appropriately at the bar. You can have tap water with your meal for free, and cordial is typically cheaper than fizzy pop when it comes to soft drinks.

You can save money on alcoholic beverages by asking for the house wine, ordering draft rather than bottled beer and cider or requesting the cheapest brand of spirits. Getting a larger glass rather than several small ones also tends to be cheaper.

When it comes to food, you might shave huge chunks off your bill by sharing courses with another person in your party. This is especially the case when it comes to dessert, since diners often simply crave a small bite of something sweet to finish the meal.

Don’t be shy about asking for a doggy bag if you do have leftovers – you’ve paid for the dish, so you have every right to take it home and prevent wastage. Doing so will mean you don’t have to pay for ingredients for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

There’s always a discount to be had

Unless you have a particular restaurant in mind, it’s possible to get a discount every time you feel like eating out. Especially in the current climate, restaurants will welcome your custom whether you get a deal or not, so don’t be shy about taking advantage of money-saving tips.

Having struggled with debt in the past and done through a debt management plan with Debt Free Direct, Stef now writes money saving articles to try and help others save money and avoid getting into debt. 

Image courtesy of healingdream /


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