Eating out can get very pricey! Especially in big city centres, where the cost of eating out can get very hard to justify. Instead of sitting at home with pot noodles though, it’s worth investigating some options to make sure you don’t lose out on a social life as a result of a tight budget. Instead of skipping out on a nice dinner with friends or a special someone, take a look at these tips to get you dining out for less.
If you’re willing to get stuck in to dinner a little early, you can benefit from ‘pre-theatre’ deals. This was traditionally intended for those who needed a quick meal before watching something at the theatre, but even if you don’t have a ticket, you can still benefit from a discounted meal that will generally include a few courses. You might not have as many dishes to choose from, but this is a great way to get a sizeable meal without paying more for each course. Be aware, however, that these are generally not available on weekends!
Coupons Are Key
The internet is a veritable smorgasbord of deals and coupons to help cut back on the costs of eating out. There are always updated deals, one of the biggest sources being Groupon. Don’t forget Student Money Saver’s Food and Drink Deals as well, which features an endless supply of ways to cut a percentage from your next meal out. If you’re in the capital, why not take a look at Skiddle for London-specific deals?
If you have a bunch of friends who love to eat out together, why not set up the occasional home dinner? You can cook as a group, everyone contributes to the cost, and it makes for a fun and memorable way to eat out without paying the price of a proper restaurant meal. For more ideas on how to host a dinner party for less, check out this guide from Yours.
Bring Your Own Booze
Rather than spending big on the booze at a restaurant, why not bring your own? Check for a sign that says BYOB, and check corkage fees before you get too comfortable, as these can sometimes negate the benefits. Investigate the options before you get in, see what the restaurant will allow you to bring (often it’s just wine and beer, for instance) and save on the drinks portion of the bill!
You might not realise that some restaurant chains actually have loyalty schemes, just like your grocery store or favourite clothes stores. Nando’s for instance have gotten on board with a loyalty scheme, so if you’re not looking for a fancy restaurant dinner, you can still save even more by taking up the latest in loyalty cards. For a more specifically dining-related card, check out Tastecard, which offers 50% discounts or 2 for 1 deals on lots of great locations.
Avoid Tourist Spots
Tourist-centric chains and parts of towns are likely to be way more expensive. Avoid these centres in order to avoid the extra costs of eating the same meals. Plan ahead and make sure that you’re picking a good local place which isn’t looking to grab the attention of unknowing tourists!
Bank on Your Birthday!
Is your birthday coming up? Lucky you! If you dine out for your birthday, there is a whole list of things you can claim, either discounted or for free. Check it out and sign up to birthday deals to make sure your next birthday meal comes at a much nicer price.
Keep the Leftovers
Asking to bag up the extras from a dinner out can mean you actually get two meals for the price of one. Not a bad way to maximise the expense of dining out! It might feel awkward to ask, but it’s definitely worth considering. Many places will be happy to box things up for you, especially if they also offer take away meals anyway.
All in all, there’s no way around it: eating out is more expensive than cooking up a meal yourself at home! But it’s always great to get out and make a dinner a special, memorable experience, and this shouldn’t come at too hefty a price. Investigate these suggestions and you’ll be able to make more great dining memories without breaking the bank.