Dining for Less: The Best Strategies to Save Money When Eating Out

Dining for Less: The Best Strategies to Save Money When Eating Out

The average Brit dines out three times per month and spends around £695.76 per year. That's 3% of the average salary. 

6% spend upwards of  £1,200 per year dining out at their favourite establishments. 

Even though 65% put a budget in place, 90% of them struggle to stick with that budget. Thankfully, there are ways you can eat out while sticking to your budget. 

Dining for less also doesn't mean heading to your local fast-food restaurant, either. If you're wondering about restaurant budgeting, keep reading to learn how to save money eating out!

Dining for Less is Easy When You Know Where to Eat

Rather than heading out to your favourite restaurant, do some research before you head out to eat. 

Take a look online to see what cheap eats are available in your area. There are tons of budget-friendly options available.

One great source if you're in London is to check out Time Out London's Cheap Eats

If you're travelling, ask your hotel to point you in the direction of a good, but reasonably priced, restaurant. 

Eat Out for Lunch Rather than Dinner

If you're really craving food from a higher-end restaurant, the best way to have your proverbial cake and eat it too (on a budget) is to eat there for lunch.

Many of them even offer lunch specials.

Avoid Tourist Traps

If the tourists are flocking to the restaurant, there's a good chance that the prices will be inflated to reflect this. And often, the food isn't all that great. 

Stick to the restaurants the locals flock to and you'll be much happier. 

Eat Ethnic Foods

While Britain may have had a bad reputation when it comes to food in the past, thanks to a wide variety of ethnicities moving here, there are a lot more and better choices when it comes to restaurant selections.

And you'll also find that those ethnic foods not only taste great, but they're less expensive than many of the typically British offerings as well. 

Try Street Food

You don't need a starched linen tablecloth to eat well.

Street food vendors are often extremely talented and serve up a wide variety of food selections including tasty chips that always taste great no matter what time of day or night it is. 

Hit the Pub

Pubs that do serve food are often a great place to find cheap and generous portions of traditional British fare. You'll be able to find everything from cottage and shepherds pie to sandwiches and snacks. 

Most pubs that serve food put a chalkboard outside and many also do a traditional Sunday lunch which includes a roast with mashed potatoes, vegetables, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding that ranges between £7 to £10.

Head to the Local Markets

Many areas, including London, have wonderful markets where you can buy all sorts of things. If you're smart about it, you can pick up fresh produce while filling your stomach by stopping at the various food vendors. 

Ask for Free Samples

Often, you'll even be invited to try a free sample. And if you're not, just ask. 

Cheese stalls are known for giving out free samples. Other vendors cook some of what they're selling on the spot such as fresh sausages and seafood. 

It's all delicious and much cheaper than if you purchased it at a shop or a restaurant. If you want the dining out experience, take your purchases and go on a picnic. 

Don't Drink Alcohol

One easy way to ruin restaurant budgeting is to buy alcohol when you're dining out. That can easily make your bill twice as much. 

You should also opt for tap water rather than asking for the fancier still or mineral water that costs much more. 

If you do feel like you want a glass of wine when dining, look for a restaurant that is a BYOB (bring your own booze). However, be aware they may try to charge you a cork fee. 

Eat Meat Free

Eating vegetarian and vegan is becoming more popular as people begin to realize the relationship between humans, animals, and the environment. But vegetarian and vegan restaurants often are much cheaper and less formal than their carnivore counterparts. 

If you're worried you'll walk away hungry, most dishes are based on grains, pulses, and rice which are all filling and typically seasoned in a more complex manner. 

You can use the Happy Cow to find vegetarian restaurants all over England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. 

Join Caff Society

A caff is a slang word for a casual café. And what you'll be lacking in atmosphere, you'll more than make up for with cheap, wholesome food. 

These are independent, family-owned places that are found in every town. You can usually walk out of there having spent around £5 after being wolfing down a generous serving of chicken with mashed potatoes and two veggies. 

Try the Sandwich Shops and Bakeries

Sandwich shops are known as butty shops in the North. And they're also everywhere in the U.K. 

They're also less expensive than large chains and offer tastier, fresher food options. For £1-2 you can get a huge sandwich or other items such as pasta, salads, chili, and baked potatoes. 

Fish and Chips

Head to your local chippie with a friend and split it between the two of you since the portions are often very large.

For around £6, two people can easily share fish, chips, and even a soft drink. 

Chinese or Indian Food

Chinese and Indian food are usually of the cheapest food types around, even among other types of ethnic food.

And outside of London, you should be able to find these types of restaurants that offers an all you can eat lunch for around £5.99.

Look for Deals and Coupons

One way you can continue dining for less without having to make sacrifices it to sign up for online deals and coupons. You can save time and effort by joining a program that does all the work for you. 

And our deals extend far beyond dining out. If you're looking to enjoy the best of everything without blowing your budget, all you need to do is sign up here to get started.