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Save money while eating out

For Chris and I eating out is by far the luxury we find hardest to cut back on our budget. Its a big part of our social life and something we enjoy doing for dates. Despite our love for dining out we have managed to incorporate it into our budget by using the following tips to reduce the cost of dining out. 

1. Order mains only and leave the starter and dessert (or share a starter if you are desperate). Portions are often so big I found that if I had a starter I would struggle to finish my main. 
2. Water not soda. Drinks are one of the most overpriced items on a restaurants menu and alcoholic beverages are the worst. Tap water goes well with every dish and even better with our budget.
3. Use coupons. This is one of my favourite ways to save, I have had a couple of free 'tastecard' which get 2for1 in a number of restaurants. Also many offer student discounts. Sign up to restaurants mailing list as they will often send offers this way as well. Nectar and Tesco Clubcard points can also be redeemed and used towards a meal out. Also don't forget Groupon who regularly have deals on restaurants.
4. Eat lunch not dinner. Lunch menus are generally much cheaper and many places are offering the exact same food as served as dinner. This is because there are less customers at lunch time so by lowering prices they aim to obtain more custom. Though sometimes portions are smaller don't see this as a negative as you are helping both your waistline and your wallet
5. Portion control. Many places portions are massive and far to big to be eaten in one sitting. Don't be afraid to ask for a 'doggy bag' and take home the rest of the meal for another day.
6. Cashback. Don't forget to check if you can get cashback with your meal as well. Quidco often give cashback for takeaway orders. While banks such as Lloyds can give cashback for actual meals out. For example I can currently get 15% cashback from Gourmet Burger Kitchen through my bank. 
7.Copycat recipes. The best way to save money is not to eat out. If you find yourself craving your favourite restaurant dish why not try finding a copycat recipe for it as there are tons on the internet especially Pinterest. One of our favourite sites for cooking restaurant quality food at home is Great British Chefs, these are some of the best chefs in the UK sharing their favourite recipes there are ones for all abilities and tastes. 
8. Don't always tip. Sounds controversial but I am a firm believer in only tipping for exceptional service (and I say this having waitressed before). Though I appreciate that tipping culture varies significantly depending on the country don't go giving money away on sub-par service. 

How do you save money when eating out?



  1. I know we would save money if I could do the water thing. I'm going to try. It's ridiculous the amount of money pop costs. Great tips!

  2. We always do water, but I'm going to have to look into student discounts in this area. Maybe tipping culture is different over here, but I always leave $5 to 20%, whichever is greater unless they are a blatant jerk. Cheating someone out of income because I want to save money doesn't seem morally right to me, but maybe the food service industry operates differently where you are.

  3. I love posts about how people make their spending habits work for them. I mean, it's awesome to cut back on eating out to save money and all, but when you have the money and are going to spend it anyway - why not do it wisely? I do the same thing with Starbucks - since I know I'm just going to get it anyway, I but gift cards on Raise and add them to my Starbucks rewards card and usually wind up getting a pretty decent deal overall then.

    I do agree with Femme on the tipping, though perhaps thats an American thing. The service has to be beyond dreadful before I don't leave a tip at all and usually it's more that the server has to be a major jerk - sometimes things are happening in the kitchen or a person is having an off day and that's all a bit beyond their control.

  4. The tipping thing is definitely different in the UK to the US. From what I understand, the tips make up a good proportion of wages in the US, whereas here in the UK, waiters and waitresses are paid a wage regardless.

  5. Eating lunch out instead of dinner is a great tip. My sister and I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina a few years ago. I wanted to try a few of the recommended restaurants, but I didn't want to pay the crazy costs of a dinner at those restaurants. We opted to eat lunch out instead of dinners and paid about half the price that dinner would have cost.