Everyone enjoys going out for lunch, tea or an evening meal every now and then, but a lot of the time, the price tag that comes along with a nice meal out can dampen our spirits and put us off going. Living in a city centre, I am all too familiar with this dilemma.
If, like me, you love food, and enjoy not having to think of a something to cook in your own kitchen once in a while, then you’ll appreciate the simple joy that can be found in being able to go to a restaurant, indulge yourself in delicious food and not feel guilty about over spending. It can be done, and it’s probably a lot easier than you think.
It’s much too easy to go to franchise or chain restaurants because of their popularity and convenience. However, it doesn’t take much looking around (especially in the city) to find little independent restaurants and cafés, and places you’ve run by locals that you’ve never thought to try out. I find that these places usually boast a more vibrant and intimate atmosphere too.
I Live in Liverpool, and a fine example of cutting costs when eating out is the Independent Liverpool card. For a mere £15 per year, this card entitles you to 10% or more discount at a host of different independent restaurants and cafes around the city. You can sometimes get more discount than usual if you go at certain times or on certain days of the week, so you can liven up your weeknights occasionally and give the Saturday night hustle and bustle a miss, whilst saving money. I’m pretty sure cards such as this one, or something of a similar idea can be found in major cities everywhere!
Living in a city full of students has major perks when it comes to eating out. Many pubs and restaurants have a ‘Beer and a Burger’ or ‘2 for 1’ offer on through the week, so use these offers to save money! They are not solely aimed at students.
It can also come in handy to look online for discount codes or vouchers that can be used in different restaurants throughout the week. Restaurants promote offers in the hopes of enticing customers who are feeling the pinch of ever rising prices, so take advantage. Look on websites such as Groupon.co.uk or Livingsocial.com for discount vouchers.
Keeping the cost down doesn’t always have to be about using discounts though. For example, if you’re going out for an evening meal with friends, choose somewhere that allows you to bring your own alcohol and save on the hefty prices of drinks in restaurants that can sometimes make the bill rocket.
Speaking of making the bill rocket, I’m definitely not the only person who will order a three course meal when I go out, but will happily settle for just the one main course when I’m cooking at home. Eating out doesn’t mean you have to go the whole hog with starters, mains, side dishes, deserts then coffee to finish. Don’t feel obliged to have two or three courses every time. It’s quite alright to have just a main course and be satisfied with that.
You may not even have to order mains. If there is a couple of you, shake things up a little and order a few dishes from the starter menu to share amongst yourselves! This is a nice way of saving a few pounds, since starters are usually cheaper than main meals, plus you get a choice of a few different dishes to nibble on.
It’s not hard to eat out on a budget, and if you are a little smarter about how you do it, you may be able to do it more often!
Written by Katy James