I really love going out to a restaurant for dinner, but sadly there is just no room in the budget to eat out as much as I would like. But that doesn’t mean I have to miss out all together! My husband and I manage to eat out about once a month for little or no money by using some of the following tricks.
1. Mystery Shopping
Mystery shopping is the absolute best for anyone who wants to save money – or even make money! – eating out. Simply sign up with a mystery shopping company, pick an assignment near you, enjoy your meal out, and complete an easy questionnaire on your experience afterwards. You have to pay for the meal at the time like a normal diner, but the company will reimburse you afterwards.
I’m a mystery shopper with a few different companies now. My favourite for eating out is the Mystery Dining Company, which specialises in restaurants and bars. This company usually reimburses the full cost of the meal for two diners, which is quite rare! The questionnaires are pretty detailed and can take up to an hour to fill out. Still, if I can get a free 50 quid meal for an hour’s work, I’m happy with that!
Market Force is another company which has a lot of restaurants and pubs on its books. This company typically only reimburses you for the cost of one meal, so if you go with a partner you’ll be out of pocket overall. Still, if you would be eating out anyway, it’s a great way to get half your bill paid for!
2. Tesco Clubcard Boost Vouchers
The Tesco Boost program is one of the best kept money-saving secrets! I am amazed how many of my friends have been shoring up clubcard points for years but have no idea how to spend them. Did you know that with the Clubcard Boost system, you can get up to four times the value of your Tesco vouchers when you use them with one of Tesco’s partners – including a huge number of high street restaurant chains? This means for every £2.50 in Tesco vouchers, you can get £10 vouchers to spend in Pizza Express, Café Rouge, ASK, La Tasca or one of literally dozens of other restaurants.
To get your vouchers, just log in at the Tesco Clubcard site. By the way, you should check the site if you have ever had a Clubcard, even if you don’t think you have any vouchers available. You can access any old, unspent vouchers online!
I LOVE getting my Tesco Boost vouchers. We get most of our shopping and petrol at Tesco and we usually go out for a completely free pizza night every few weeks using our vouchers!
I’ve already written about how much I love TopCashback.co.uk for saving money on my online shopping. Did you know you can also get cashback on food and drinks? TopCashback is especially good for food delivery services and takeaways. For example, at the moment you can get up to 6.3% cashback on deliveries from Hungry House, 4.2% at Just Eat, and 3.15% at Domino’s Pizza. The deals change all the time, so check the site whenever you are thinking about eating out to see what’s new. They often also publish discount codes and vouchers, even if there isn’t any cashback available.
4. Restaurant Vouchers
I love finding vouchers and special offers to save money on eating out. You can find voucher codes all over the place – often just by Googling – but my favourite resource that combines the best deals all in one place is Money Saving Expert. Their section on restaurant deals is updated regularly and is full of vouchers than you can print out or download to your phone, plus other tips and tricks, such as which restaurants offer a treat on your birthday, or have free kids’ meals.
A Tastecard is an annual membership scheme that gets you 50% or 2 for 1 meals at thousands of restaurants around the country. The usual annual membership is £79.99. Seems pricey, but if you do eat out a lot, the savings quickly add up. Also, there are almost always various deals on Tastecards around the web! You can currently get three month’s membership for only £1 here, or an annual membership for £29.99 here. I don’t recommend shelling out for a card if you don’t eat out often enough to make it worth while, but if you often go to their partner restaurants anyway, the savings could be huge.
Do you eat out a lot? What are your best money saving tips?