If like many people, you find dining out provides a welcome break from cooking, eating in restaurants will probably be one of your favourite pastimes. But too much indulgence can prove costly. If you like to eat out, especially on a regular basis, here are some top tips to help you save cash.
Restaurant vouchers: Cut the cost of your bill by using money-off vouchers. Most restaurants, pubs and snack bars put the latest promotions on their website. Typical offers include ‘2 for 1’, free desserts, free drinks, and even free meals for the kids. These are often valid upon the purchase of a main meal, but terms and conditions can vary, so ensure you read all the small print.
Early bird menus: Usually available late afternoon, ‘early bird’ menus offer significant savings on food and drink. Not all places will operate a discount scheme, but there are many that will. Being flexible with your eating times is a great way to save, and the service is often quicker than in peak periods.
Weekly promotions: Many pubs and restaurants have a different meal deal every day of the week, such as ’Fish Friday’, ‘Steak Night’ or ‘Mexican Night’. These are ideal for saving you cash. Although often seen in large pub chains, smaller providers have followed suit. Browse deals in your local area for the best mid-week bargains.
Diners’ clubs: You can get discounts at thousands of UK restaurants by joining a dining club. One provider is Tastecard, which has a free 30-day trial offering up to 50% off at locations nationwide. The Gourmet Society is also worth considering and has similar deals for new members. These membership schemes are especially recommended if you eat out on a regular basis.
Loyalty programmes: If you often find yourself eating at the same establishment, enquire about a loyalty scheme. Many restaurant chains will reward you with points, redeemable for a discount on your next meal. Some smaller establishments also have loyalty schemes, so be sure to investigate these as well.
Student deals: Are you a student? You can claim money-off at various food establishments, especially those on campus or in populated student areas. It is worthwhile seeking out student-only deals, but remember to produce a valid student ID in order to take advantage.
Cheaper drinks: Ordering drinks in restaurants can vastly increase the overall bill total. And even if you do manage to claim a discount on your meal, you may still find yourself paying over the odds for drinks. With this in mind, be sure to study the menu for any drinks promotions, or opt for something cheaper, such as water. Some restaurants have more affordable deals than others, so be sure to consider the various options prior to booking.
Main course only: Do you often find yourself eating a starter, main course and a dessert? While incredibly tasty the vast majority of time, the cost of additional courses can soon add up. To save money, try ordering the main course only. If you must have a dessert, consider having one at home instead. Also be aware of any voucher deals that entitle you to free starters or desserts upon the purchase of a main meal. These can come in extremely handy (just ensure you read the voucher terms and conditions).