6 great tips for eating out on the cheap
by Kelly Henderson (follow Kelly on Twitter: @kellythekiwi)
Whether it is date night, catching up with the girls, a business meeting or a family get-together eating out at restaurants is part of our everyday life. If only there was a way for it to be cheaper…
Here are my tips for eating out for cheap:
#1 Become a Member of a Diners Club
You can purchase membership to a number of different diners clubs which allow you to eat at a discounted price. A couple of options are Gourmet Society (they offer 3-months subscription for just £1) and Hi-Life but my favourite (and the one I can personally recommend) is Tastecard.
Tastecard membership costs £79.99 and it gives you discount at thousands of restaurants. But here’s a tip – you can get a 30 day trial for free. After your trial they give you the option of buying a card for only £29.95! The discounts you get range from 50% off your food or 241 meals. You will need to check the terms and conditions though as they vary depending on the restaurant that you would like to book at.
#2 Print Off Restaurant Vouchers
There are lots of restaurants (especially the larger chains) that offer discounts when you bring in a voucher that you have printed from a website. You can find the vouchers on websites like Groupon, Livingsocial, Wowcher or VoucherCodes.co.uk. You can also register with the restaurants directly to receive their latest news and promotions – it may pay to set up a separate email account for this! La Tasca, Pizza Express and Zizzi are just a few that have exclusive offers for diners who have registered with them.
#3 Book Your Meal Online
There are a number of third-party sites that let you make your dinner reservations online – and save money in the process.
Toptable is similar to a loyalty card scheme where you can earn points every time you book a restaurant using their online booking engine. When you have built up enough points you can have a free meal at a selected restaurant. The more points you have, the better the restaurant. Not only that, but there are a lot of offers on the site too. Some restaurants promote 50% off food or 25% off the whole bill whilst others have set menus at discounted rates or certain times of the day that give you extra points.
If you book via Lastminute there is an option to select only the restaurants that have special offers on. It is free to book and there is a wide range of restaurants and offers available.
#4 Become a Mystery Diner
If you enjoy good, discounted food and think you know what great customer service is then you should register with a Specialist mystery shopping and customer feedback company such as The Mystery Dining Company or Market Force. You need to apply for your assignments in advance and then complete the report by the given time but you get paid a small amount and then compensated for your meal. Find out more about how to become a mystery diner in London.
#5 Avoid Dining at Peak Dinner Times
If you can, try and take advantage of the pre/post theatre offers that restaurants in the West End offer. Normally this will consist of a two or three course meal at a set price.
Alternatively, you could do lunch instead of dinner. Many restaurants offer the same set menus as the pre/post theatre offers. The menus are set because they use ingredients that can be bought and prepared in bulk but it is still an excellent chance to eat in some of London’s finest restaurants for a fraction of the price.
#6 Know Your Rights
I’m not saying that you should complain simply for the sake of complaining but if your night out wasn’t up to scratch then you don’t have to pay for it. This could be because of your booking being mixed up, poor quality of food or terrible service. Aside from this remember that the added 10% service charge is optional. Don’t be unreasonable though!
Other suggestions I have include heading to BYO restaurants, keep an eye out for flyers in newspapers or coming through the letter box and interact with your favourite restaurants through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Let me know your suggestions… I’m off to get dinner!