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Money saving

Top tips for eating out on a budget

Posted 16 June 2016

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Want to eat out and stay within your budget? Try our simple money saving tips.

Fancy a lovely meal out with the whole family without breaking the bank? When money’s tight, it can seem like all luxury spending goes out of the window. But dining out at your favourite restaurant doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune – you can eat out on a budget. 

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Let’s have a look at how you can become a savvy diner and keep the costs down.

Switch days to save

A top tip when you’re looking to save money eating out is to switch to a midweek treat. Restaurants are typically quieter during the week, so they tend to offer discounts at this time. ‘2 for 1’ deals, ‘kids eat free’ promotions and two courses for a set price are all smart money saving options to look out for. Don’t forget to check whether your favourite restaurant has any daytime/mid-week deals. These can include discounted dishes on certain days – another great way to save. 

We all know that eating out with the kids can be pricey. However by choosing a restaurant that offers discounted kids meals or ‘kids eat for free’ days, you can enjoy that well-deserved family outing even when you’re on a tight budget.  And you’re not just limited to midweek options. On Sundays at Crown Carveries, for each adult ordering a main meal or carvery, children under 10 get a free smaller carvery. 

Choosing a dish from the restaurant’s lunch menu or an ‘early bird’ special are two smart ways to pick up a bargain. If you’re happy to eat out earlier, Frankie and Benny’s* and Bella Italia* offer a main course on the midweek lunch menu for £6.95. 

If you compare this to the evening menu prices, you’re paying a lot less. Just remember to check with the restaurant that their offers are still on before you go.

It’s worth checking with local independent restaurants to see if they have any deals on. 

Subscribe and save 

It may surprise you to learn that voucher codes don’t just apply to when you shop – they can be used in your favourite restaurants too. Before you go out to any restaurant, it’s worth searching in advance for any vouchers you can download – including money off your bill or free deserts or appetisers. 

This is quick and simple to do – websites such as vouchercloud and vouchercodes can help take the legwork out of finding the best deals. 

What’s more, you don’t always need to print the vouchers – you can simply view the voucher on their app or have it emailed to you. Keep in mind that the discounts will depend on the restaurant – you may only be able to use the voucher on specific days.  

Birthday freebie 

Planning on dining out to celebrate your big day? Many restaurants and cafes offer ‘birthday freebies’ if you sign up to their newsletter or join their loyalty club, so you can get the most out of your special day. 

You can pick up a free burrito on your birthday at Barburrito, or a free main meal at TableTable or Frankie and Benny’s, when another is purchased. And if you don’t want to stop at the main course, you can even get a birthday treat at Patisserie Valerie. 

Discounts aren’t just limited to your birthday. You’re in a great position to receive vouchers all year round – all for just for being an email subscriber. 

And don’t forget some restaurants reward you for your loyalty. If you find yourself visiting the same restaurant, why not check whether they have a loyalty card scheme? Keep in mind that these discounts only apply after so many visits, so it’s only worth picking up a card if you already visit the restaurant frequently - you won’t be saving money if you eat out more than usual.

Feedback pays

Restaurants rely on customer feedback to make sure they’re serving not only the best food but service as well. Because of this, restaurants tend to reward you for your thoughts on the service. 

This can include money off your next visit or entry into a competition. So if you’ve eaten out recently, why not consider sharing your feedback? You can find details on the company’s website or sometimes on the restaurant’s receipts. 

Cashback offers

If you bank online, you may be surprised to hear that you can save a few quid through purchasing on your debit or credit card. Many banks offer cashback in some restaurants as well as in a number of shops. So if your bank has deals like this, it’s worth exploring the cashback offers available. 

You will need to activate each deal to get the cashback – just sign into your online banking and view the offers from there. Plus if you use a voucher as well as activating a cashback deal, that’s a double saving.

So there you go – a few tips on how to save money when eating out. Just make sure you explore your options to make sure eating out doesn’t push you over budget. Check in regularly with our blog for more money saving tips.  

*Prices correct as of June 2016. 

 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.