The 7 step guide to eating out for less

dineoutforless

Despite the gloomy economic climate the UK restaurant trade has remained remarkably robust in recent years with the continued enthusiasm of Generation Y – those aged between 18-34 – driving steady growth in the ‘going out’ industry as a whole.

Research published this summer in Deloitte’s Taste of the Nation survey reveals that we Brits dine out more than ever, although, perhaps unsurprisingly, we’re also wary of the costs involved and have become increasingly savvy about looking for discounts. Rightly so…

It doesn’t matter whether you’re venturing out for a bite to eat in a local café, nipping into town on a Friday night for a curry or planning a fine dining experience at one of the country’s top restaurants, if you plan ahead and look in the right places there’s a chance you could save big on your foodie adventures.

We run through a few of the best tips…

Vouchers

Many restaurants offer promotional codes, including 2-for-1 deals on main courses, which are made available online, in print and via apps for smart phones and tablets. Quidco constantly has a range of vouchers for High Street favourites including Pizza Express, Ask, Zizzi while Money Saving Expert also run a page dedicated to similar deals.

Restaurant mailing lists

If you’re a regular visitor to a particular eatery or chain of restaurants it may well be worth checking to see if you can sign up to their mailing list via their website. In amongst the latest news, menu updates and competitions there will often be special deals and discounts on offer. Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter are also great for staying in the loop and for striking up relationships with front of house staff.

Booking websites

Many of the biggest and best restaurant booking sites, including toptable: UK Restaurants, www.lastminute.com and www.5pm.co.uk specialise in discounted dining experiences with up to 50% off in certain cases. Narrow down where to eat depending on cuisine preference, postcode and cost, book in advance and remind the restaurant on arrival that you booked a special deal online.

Daily deals websites

If you like value for money and don’t mind booking a restaurant on the spur of the moment then the offers on daily deals websites such as www.Groupon.com are perfect. Offers can usually be redeemed during a set period only and range from tasting menu dining experiences at Michelin starred restaurants to much cheaper dinner and lunch deals at well-known chains.

Join a dining club

Join a dining club such as the Gourmet Society or Taste Card for a one off annual fee (typically £50-£60) and you’ll be entitled to redeem a whole host of daily offers at restaurants up and down the country. Not all restaurants accept the cards during peak hours so it’s worth reading the T&Cs but the proliferation of 2-for-1 deals can make it worthwhile if you enjoy dining out regularly at participating venues.

Go for lunch not dinner

This isn’t going to work for you if you’re organising a hot date or don’t have time during the day to take a couple of hours out for lunch, but if you’re flexible it’s a great way to experience top restaurants without paying top whack dinner prices. Many restaurants also offer early evening reservations for pre-theatre trips which are also cheaper than during peak hours.

BYO restaurants

As anyone who has been through a couple of bottles of wine over dinner will tell you, the price of a meal rockets once you include alcohol. If you know that a restaurant is BYO don’t hesitate to take advantage. There might be a small corkage charge but with the typical bottle of win costing £5 in the supermarket compared to £15 in a restaurant it’s obvious that there are savings to be made.