Dine Out For Less

Dine Out For Less

Eating out in restaurants with friends or family is an enjoyable distraction from home cooking. But this often comes at a price. Dining out is hardly the cheapest activity available, especially when you consider drinks, service charges, or tips. All this can add up and impact your bank balance.

Here, we include some popular ways to save when eating in restaurants.

Restaurant vouchers

One of the most popular ways to save money when eating out at restaurants is to use discount vouchers. These are easily accessible online, especially at restaurant chain websites. The majority of popular restaurants offer discounts, or have similar promotions where you can save on main courses, desserts, or drinks. Mobile apps also exist where you can save when attending restaurants at particular times of the day. Just a word of warning: ensure you read the small print when using vouchers, since they often have limitations (the most common being the voucher not being valid at peak times).

Loyalty programs

Some restaurants have loyalty schemes in place where you can earn points or other perks for your regular patronage. It can be well worth enquiring about such schemes as they amount to significant savings over time, especially if you regularly attend certain restaurant chains. Visit the restaurant’s website to see if a loyalty scheme is available. It is also worth considering third party providers like The Gourmet Society and Tastecard. These are great companies to register with if you dine out on a regular basis. Both entitle you to discounts at hundreds of places nationwide. A free 30-day trial is available.

Happy hours

Don’t mind what time you eat at? Then try and book during off-peak times. Sometimes restaurants have ‘happy hour’ slots where discounts are offered in exchange for flexible booking. Typical happy hour times are late afternoon, but this can vary according to the particular establishment in question.

Weekly promotions

Some restaurants operate a system where each day has a new deal. ‘Curry Night’, ‘Steak Night’, ‘Fish Friday’, etc. These types of offers are highly popular and can often be seen at large chain pubs. On the day of the promotion, certain meals will be discounted. Check out your favourite local establishments for similar promotions.

Student discounts

If you’re a student, you should be well versed in getting stuff at a discounted rate, and dining out is no exception. Many restaurants – especially those in student areas – offer student discount. All that is required to claim is to show a university membership card or similar, such as an NUS card. To save money on eating out, look for restaurants offering these types of deals. Your university will be able to recommend popular student-friendly establishments, so be sure to do some research before ordering your meal. In fact, it is worth asking in all restaurants if a student discount is available. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Cut back on drinks

Drinks at restaurants can be expensive, especially if you’re having the most costly drinks, like wine or cocktails. To keep costs down, try ordering cheaper drinks, or smaller sized measures. Water is an affordable option – so consider this if on a tight budget. One way to bypass the high price of drinks is to book at restaurants that allow you to take your own. Some Indian restaurants follow this practice but you may be surprised how many other types of cuisine is catered for.

Buffet/all you can eat

Depending on your appetite, you could get more ‘bang for your buck’ so to speak if you take advantage of the popular buffet-style restaurants in most towns and cities. However, often the initial cost of booking these types of restaurants is slightly higher. Couple this with drinks and you may be spending more than you can realistically eat. Better options may be available elsewhere, so consider the pros and cons beforehand.

Limit eating out

Having someone else cook meals is a great way to relax, but if you want to cut the cost of eating out, try not to overindulge. Putting limits on your eating out will not only help you save money, it will enable you to enjoy your next restaurant meal that much more.

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