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The Full-Time Cheapskate

Updated on July 8, 2016

Dining out doesn't have to be expensive

6 Tips For Saving In Restaurants

We all love dining out when the opportunity arises. But while fun, eating in restaurants can take a chunk out of your wallet. Here are six of my top methods on how to score the best dining deals.

Membership schemes: If like myself you eat out most weeks, it’s worth signing up for a membership at Tastecard or The Gourmet Society. These schemes offer substantial discounts at thousands of restaurants across the UK. In some cases you can save up to 50%. Some dining schemes offer a free trial prior to subscription, so be on the lookout for those, too.

Go for the promotions: The vast majority of eateries will feature meal deals throughout the week. It can be well worthwhile hunting down these promotions, which usually feature in chain pubs and popular high-street restaurants. Although occasionally you will find a discount deal on the weekend, they are far more common mid-week.

Printable vouchers: You can save a considerable amount by spending some time searching for printable restaurant vouchers. Many establishments distribute vouchers to help drum-up new business, and by tracking these down, you can enjoy ‘2 for 1’, free drinks, and lots more besides. Try websites like FreebieShare.co.uk or VoucherCloud to see a roundup of restaurant deals, but remember to read the full terms and conditions.

Get there early: Turn up early to get access to the ‘happy hour’, where you can often find discounts on food and drink. If you can get to the restaurant before the evening rush or outside of peak times, you can often save a bundle. Additionally, you may find the service speedier and a quieter atmosphere, plus your choice of tables!

VIP loyalty: Many of the most prominent restaurant chains across the UK operate a loyalty or VIP scheme where you can earn points or gain other benefits. We all have our favourite establishments, and if you eat in a particular location on a regular basis, be sure to ask about a loyalty card. Over time, you will be eligible for a free meal, free dessert, or another perk. Birthday freebies are also available at TGI Fridays, La Tasca and other popular restaurants.

Student discount: Are you a student? If you are, make the most of it by searching for student offers in your local area. Both large and small restaurants, pubs and cafes often have student meal deals up for grabs. Find them online or by searching your student newspaper - but be sure to produce a valid student ID upon request.

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