Dining out is something the millennial generation have got highly accustomed to over the last few years, often opting for convenience and fun rather than leaning over a hot stove after a 9-5 work shift. Eating out now is considered a more social experience than it was thirty years ago, where back then people would eat out only on a special occasion, people now visit restaurants regularly, sometimes even once or twice a week. I'm one of these 'foodie' people that loves eating out at restaurants - I'm always looking for my latest 'Instagram food pic' and I really enjoy trying new food that I often don't have time to cook at home. I love being able to share my knowledge of places to eat with my friends, my blog audience and my family and I feel like I get 'FOMO' (fear of missing out) if I venture too far out of the foodie scene. The only problem with regularly eating out rather than cooking a meal at home is the fact that it can be rather costly. For example, if you eat out once a week, for a year with the average meal and a few drinks coming to around £25 for the night, that is £1,500 a year alone on food and in a world where house prices are rocketing and taxes are constantly on the rise, every penny helps.
I wouldn't say I'm the best at money saving, but over the last few years I have picked up a few little tricks that have helped me save money and today, I thought I would share a few of them with you. Going out for food is often an impulsive decision - after all we've all been in the situation where you work colleague/best friend/partner (insert appropriate) pulls you over and says 'I fancy going out tonight' with no warning, but a little forward planning doesn't harm anyone.
Plan your meals for a Monday or Tuesday
The beginning of the week is usually the quietest for bars and restaurants as everyone is too busy recovering from the weekend and getting back into work mode. A lot of companies use this quiet period to unleash their promotional deals to lure in customers, sometimes offering as much as 50% off food. If it's getting near to payday and your purse strings are getting a little bit too tight, yet you feel like you want to treat yourself, these deals can really make a difference.
Subscribe to your favourite restaurants mailing lists
If you have restaurants that you and your friends always seem to visit or there's a new restaurant opening that has caught your attention, consider subscribing to their mailing lists online. Every now and then companies like to send promotional offers to those on their mailing lists as a thank you for being a subscriber or a loyal customer and they often reward you when it's your birthday, such as the Pizza Express deal where you can get a free bottle of prosecco when dining on your special day. If you plan on subscribing to quite a few restaurants and bars, it may be worth setting up a different email address to your professional one as they can flood your inbox.
Make the most of voucher codes
It is always worth checking with your best friend Google before you go out to see if there's any online voucher codes for the restaurant you are visiting, especially if it's a big restaurant chain. There's lots of different voucher sites to check out such as Voucher Cloud and Voucher Codes with many offering mobile friendly vouchers as well as the traditional print vouchers.
Download discount apps
If you're always on the go and don't have time to trawl through the internet to find money saving offers, you can always download the app versions of the two aforementioned websites and if you're on O2 you can download O2 priority moments. I love O2 priority moments as the deals are instant and easy to use and these range from money off lunches to meals out in the evening.
Treat yourself to a Tastecard
For those who dine out regularly, it is worth investing in a Tastecard. Tastecards cost £80 per year (or free with a Natwest Platinum account) and you can get 2-4-1 or 50% off a lot of UK restaurants all year round.
Stay active on social media
My final piece of advice is to stay active on social media and follow all your favourite restaurants. By following all your favourite restaurants you'll be able to see if they have any promotional offers or competitions running and you can keep an eye out for any new menu launch events where you may be able to bag yourself a few free drinks or dishes. It is always worth searching menu launch events on Twitter in your area because bars often look for a big turnout to these events so they can get as much feedback as possible on their new food.
How often do you dine out?