How to dine out for less
Whether it’s the work Christmas party, a catch up with friends to exchange presents or simply a family treat after a hard day’s shopping, it’s inevitable that in the lead up to Christmas you’re going to find yourself dining out more often than usual. But before you restrict yourself to tap water and light salad, take a look at our money-saving tips for dining out that could save you a fortune and take away some of the worry that comes with festive spending:
Sign up for a Diners’ Discount Card
There are several schemes out there that offer food-enthusiasts savings at participating restaurants. Some of the most well-known are tastecard and the Gourmet Society, and with both of them offering the first few months for just £1 (60 days for tastecard and 90 days for the Gourmet Society), it’s really worth picking one up in time for the festive season.
The Gourmet Society currently offers 2-for-1 meals, 50% off your food bill, or 25% off your total bill (including drinks) at participating restaurants, while tastecard offer 50% off or 2-for-1. Offers are sometimes unavailable on weekends or in December so be sure to check the details of the offers before you buy.
Register for offers from your favourite restaurants
Many restaurants now offer their loyal customers discount codes and deals via email newsletters or their social media accounts. So if you know you’ll be visiting a certain restaurant during the holidays, then it may be worthwhile to sign up to their newsletter or to follow them on Facebook to hear about the latest promotions.
If you or a loved one will be celebrating a birthday in December then this may be twice as beneficial, as many restaurants offer extra freebies and discounts for customers on their birthdays.
Make the most of discount schemes
If you’ve signed up as a regular customer with a competitive brand, then you may be entitled to discounts you weren’t even aware of. O2 Priority, for example, offers O2 customers perks and offers at a variety of restaurants. It changes regularly, but recent offers have included £5 mains at Pizza Express, a free hot drink at Café Nero, free prosecco and olives at Zizzi and 50% off mains at Ask Italian.
Gyms, insurance providers, phone contracts and broadband providers are just some of the companies that may offer added perks for your custom. Check out their websites to find out if you’re eligible for any discounts.
Become a student again
If you’ve got a student in the family then you’ve probably eyed up their discount with envy more than once, but did you know that there are online courses that cost under £10 and will qualify you for an NUZ card? You might need to do a little hunting around to find a course at the lowest price, but sites such as Ecareers and New Skills Academy are a good place to start. Make sure you keep an eye on discount websites such as Groupon and Wowcher who sometimes offer big savings on courses that will make it even cheaper for you to get your hands on a discount card.
Bear in mind that the NUS Extra card will cost you £12 for one year, on top of whatever you pay for your course, so you will need to be sure that you will make the most of this one for it to be worthwhile. But with discounts available on restaurants, entertainment, supermarkets, travel and more, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use it.
Check out a discount website
Discount websites such as Groupon and Wowcher offer reduced prices and deals on local food and drink, including everything from afternoon tea to three-course dining. It’s always worth checking if you can get a discount on the place you’re visiting beforehand, or if you’re in charge of picking a venue then choose a deal to suit you. Just be aware of the fine print when purchasing; some deals may only be valid on certain dates or at certain times, and you may be required to make a reservation in advance in order to redeem your voucher.
Make the most of employee discounts
Nowadays a lot of big employers will negotiate local deals for their employees as an extra perk for working for them. This could range from a discount at your company’s local restaurant if you show your work pass, to access to big shopping discount websites such as Perkz or PS Discounts. Sometimes these offers aren’t advertised as well as they could be to existing employees, particularly in large businesses, so don’t be afraid to ask your manager or someone in your HR department if there’s anything available to you.
Time it wisely
If you have any input into when and where you meet for dinner, then make sure you check out the restaurant’s website in advance for a cheaper time to eat. Some restaurants will have a Happy Hour that could save you and your friends precious pounds, and some may have additional deals on slow days of the week such as Monday and Tuesday. The last thing that someone on a budget wants to hear is that they could have made a big saving if they’d just booked the table half an hour earlier.
With a little preparation, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself this Christmas without breaking the budget.