Restaurant meal

5 Useful Tips to Save Money While Dining Out

30th November 2021

Who doesn’t love to dine out every once in a while? It’s the perfect chance to catch up with friends and family, treat yourself, end a great day out or simply enjoy a delicious meal you don’t have to cook. Unsurprisingly, research has found that the average Brit can spend up to almost £700 a year on dining out - that means this innocent indulgence can literally eat up 3% of the average UK annual salary.

But will we stop? Of course not! Instead, discover ways you can head out for a meal without it breaking the bank and save those extra pounds. Here are our 5 best tips to help save you trim the bill while dining out.

1. Check for deals

If you haven’t already downloaded coupon apps like Groupon and Wowcher, you’re missing out. These global e-commerce marketplaces connect users with local merchants and businesses offering discounted activities, travel, services, and you guessed it - food.

Many restaurants and bars have signed up to apps such as these, as not only do they benefit them and spread the word about their business, but it also helps out their consumers - people like you. Offering 2 for 1 deals, lunchtime discounts, complimentary bottles of wine and a whole host of other cheaper options, signing up to apps such as these will allow you to dine on a budget.

You should also regularly check your favourite restaurants’ social media pages, as sometimes they advertise discounts and deals on their own platforms without going through hosts.

2. Can I see the lunch menu?

If you are really trying to cut costs but you can’t resist eating out every once in a while, opting for the lunch menu will definitely help you save the pennies.

This is because the lunchtime crowd is usually those taking their work break, or friends catching up for a bite to eat and a quick coffee. Generally, lunchtime diners aren’t too interested in day drinking, (which dramatically reduces the price of the overall meal straight away) and are usually looking to “grab and go.” This combination means they are looking to pay less, and due to the faster dining experience, they end up paying less. However, this fast-paced lunch slot doesn’t mean that you can’t take your time.

With midday menus being cheaper, due to restaurants wanting to attract diners during this period, and the dishes served being slightly smaller, lunchtime sittings are much cheaper than the evening hours. What’s more, not only are lunch menus cheaper, but some establishments sometimes offer extras such as salad or soups, too. It’s a win-win, really.

3. Set a dining budget

OK, so we all know eating out is probably one of the finer things in life, but, as a result, it’s also one of the most expensive. If you really can’t say no to your monthly meet-up meal with friends, why not set yourself a budget and learn to actually stick to it?

It can be hard to pull back the reins after the first glass of wine when you’re having too much fun and your bank account is a distant memory. However, all these extra starters and bottles of wine can really make a dent in your wallet if you don’t have your eye on the ball.

Instead, why not withdraw the exact amount of cash you want to spend that evening and leave your card at home? That way, you won’t be tempted to splash out on espresso martinis for the whole group or order the 1kg steak that you simply will not be able to finish alone.

Regardless of dining out, budgeting is a great way to keep tabs on your finances in general.

Meal out

4. Share a meal

These days, portion sizes are getting bigger and bigger. How many times have you eaten out only to not finish your dish? How many times have you taken your leftovers home with you after a meal out? Sure, you’re still getting your money’s worth by eating it the next day, but somehow, it’s never the same.

While sharing a meal may seem like a crime when your stomach is rumbling, it can actually be a great idea when you’re struggling to move after eating only half of your portion. It’s incredibly common for people to carry on eating when they’re full - an unhealthy habit to get into. Eating too much food requires your organs to work much harder, which then causes unpleasant side effects such as heartburn, drowsiness and sluggishness.

Dessert and starters are perfect for sharing. Desserts are so often an indulgence everyone is too polite to order, so suggesting you share one is a simple way around that awkwardness of craving a sweet treat. By sharing a dish, you’ll not only save yourself half the bill, but you’ll also be doing your body a healthy favour.

5. Track the foodie calendar

There’s always something going on in the restaurant and food world, which means plenty of opportunities to grab a great deal. Keep an eye on Twitter, your email inbox and even local restaurant windows to find out about annual events like the UK’s National Burger Day. In the past, burger chains have got involved and offered special discounts on that day. Same for Pancake Day.

If you truly have your ears to the ground, you might be able to find out about new restaurant openings in the future. To celebrate opening day, there are sometimes bargains to attract new customers like you.

There you have it - there are ways you can still eat out without breaking the bank. By taking care and applying some of these tips to your next dinner date, you’re sure to notice a significant difference when you next check your bank account.

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