friends eating out

20 ways to eat out on a budget

author: Adele Kitchen

By Adele Kitchen

Now that restrictions are lifting, more people are visiting restaurants and meeting up with family and friends. The only problem is, eating out can often be expensive.

So, we’ve rounded up 20 ways to save money on eating out, starting with some things you can do before you even leave the front door!

1. Sign up for newsletters

Lots of well-known restaurants have newsletters you can subscribe to, which can include special offers. If you sign up, some eateries will even send you vouchers if they know your birthday is coming up. You could also follow your favourite restaurants on social media, so you’re kept in the loop if any offers become available.

2. Check deal sites

Before you decide where to go for food, you could check if there are any special offers in your area on deal sites like Groupon, Wowcher or LivingSocial, for example. They usually have an abundance of discounted meal options available.

3. Become a mystery diner

Become a mystery diner and receive free meals in return for your feedback. To get started, you’ll need to register with an agency (such as HGEM or Grass Roots, for example).

4. Choose an eatery within walking distance

Sometimes just travelling to a restaurant can cost you money if you’re having to fuel up the car to get there. You could cut down the cost by booking dinner somewhere you can easily walk or cycle to instead. 

5. Use food waste apps

Some cafés and restaurants offer leftover food at seriously discounted prices via food waste apps, like Too Good To Go and Karma. So, you can save money on eating out - and up your sustainability at the same time.

Read on to find out how to reduce food waste and save up to £700 per year.

6. Eat during the day

Another handy tip is to eat out during the day instead of in the evening. Restaurants are usually less busy at lunchtime from Monday to Friday. So, many eateries provide menus with lower price tags during the day, to attract more customers.

7. Visit places that allow you to BYOB

Sometimes the biggest charge on a restaurant bill is the drinks order. One way to cut your bill is to go somewhere that allows you to bring your own booze. Then you can purchase it from a local supermarket at a fraction of the price.

8. Order soft drinks with your meal

If you can’t find anywhere that allows you to bring your own booze, consider ordering soft drinks instead, which would work out much cheaper.

9. Make the most of special offers

Often menus will have a special offers section. Perhaps it’s a special price for 3 courses or buy 3 tapas and get the 4th free, for example. If an offer takes your fancy, then it makes sense to go for it.

10. Go to an all-you-can-eat buffet

Buffets are usually cheap and cheerful, and you can fill your boots with as much food as you like for one set price. So you won’t be faced with any nasty surprises on the bill at the end.

11. Use any discounts available

When you eat out, remember to ask if they have any offers available that you could take advantage of. Some eateries offer special discounts for students, senior citizens, or NHS workers, for example.

12. Choose the cheapest option on the menu

If you want to eat out on a budget, you should choose the cheapest option on the menu (providing it’s something you want to eat!). Or you could cut down costs by ordering a starter or side dishes. 

13. Avoid bottled water

Why spend an extortionate amount on bottled water when you can get tap water for free? This tip only can cut pounds off your restaurant bill.

14. Check if a service charge is included

Sometimes a service charge is automatically included in the bill. If it is, you don’t need to add any more gratuity on top. Or you’re within your rights to ask for it to be removed if you’ve received bad service.

15. Don’t eat out on an empty stomach

If you let yourself get extremely hungry before you eat out, you’re more likely to go overboard once it’s time to order. Sometimes your eyes can be bigger than your stomach - we’ve all been there! Have a little snack before you go out.

16. See if it’s cheaper to takeaway

Lots of restaurants and cafés offer a takeaway option and it’s usually slightly cheaper than sitting in. That way, you can get restaurant-quality food for less.

17. Take home a doggy bag

If you end up with a large meal and can’t finish it all in one sitting, don’t throw it away. Instead, ask for a doggy bag, then you can eat your leftovers for your next meal, which will save you money overall.

18. Sign up for loyalty schemes

Loyalty schemes are certainly a long game, but you’ll reap the rewards eventually. Usually, with loyalty schemes you’ll collect points over time and then once you’ve collected a certain number of points, you’ll be rewarded. Loyalty schemes are only worthwhile if you visit the same place regularly. 

19. Eat out on your birthday

Restaurants often give freebies out for people’s birthdays, especially desserts. It’s always worth mentioning, in case they throw in some extras!

20. Try fish and chips

Instead of eating out in a posh restaurant, you could always try your local chippy instead. You’re sure to get generous portions, which means you’ll get more bang for your buck, whilst not having to cook diner or wash the pots!

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

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