Hints & Tips

How to save money eating out.

Emma Drew is an award winning personal finance blogger who blogs all about ways to make money, save money and live the life you want. Emma is passionate about sharing genuine money making and money saving opportunities. You can also find Emma on  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. Over to Emma…

It is fair to say that I love dining out. Whether it is for convenience or out for a celebration, having someone else cook and wash up for me is something I enjoy a lot. However eating out a lot can be expensive, so I want to share some of the ways that I keep our dining out budget low whilst still visiting pubs and restaurants a few times a week.

Swap your drinks

Drinks can add on a hefty chunk to the bill when dining out, especially if you need a new drinks throughout the meal. If you are buying alcohol then switch to soft drinks or swap all your drinks for tap water to save lots of money. If you can’t quite make the switch fully then you can still mix it up, ordering your usual drink then moving on to tap water. This saves us at least £5 per bill every time we eat out.

Sign up to the mailing list

Pubs and restaurants are desperate to get your email address so that they can email you with special offers. In order to encourage you to give them your email address they will often offer a money off voucher after you have signed up. Simply pop in your email address on their website and get the voucher emailed to you. Another bonus is that they will email you with vouchers whenever they have a new one available for you.

Sign up to any loyalty cards

I love being rewarded for my loyalty, and at restaurants this is no different. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food establishments who run their own loyalty program – for example Nando’s have a loyalty card where you can earn yourself free food. From a free starter all the way up to a whole chicken, this is a great way to earn free food on top of your regular dining. You can earn free chicken with KFC’s loyalty app and free drinks with Starbucks.

Mystery dining

Getting paid to eat is actually my dream, and with mystery dining this is exactly what you can do. You will visit a pub or restaurant with a specific brief, such as asking a question about the menu or visiting the toilets to see if they are clean. You can usually visit with one other diner, and in return for you completing a report you will get your meal and drinks for free and in some cases you will also get a small fee for completing the assignment. I love being able to treat my friends and family to a meal in exchange for mystery shopping.

Sign up to Tastecard

Tastecard might not be for everyone, but if you dine out a lot then you cannot afford to be without your membership. For an annual fee of £34.99 (there are often deals available) you can get offers at over 6,500 participating restaurants. The deals vary by location but they are usually two for one or get 50% off. In just a couple of meals your Tastecard membership will have paid for itself.

Use special offers

I love eating out in pub environments and there is always something to suit our budget. From themed nights where certain menu items are half price to regular offers such as two main meals for £11.99, there is often a great offer to be found. Hungry Horse in particular have some great deals, such as meals for £5 on Tuesdays, or a free starter or dessert on Thursdays.

If you enjoy dining out as much as I do then I hope this post has given you some ideas to help you save money.