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I want to keep eating out, but money is tight. What are your best tips?

(27 Posts)
IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 21:43:47

We live in central london and enjoy eating out periodically. Mostly lunchtimes so we can take the children. Nothing fancy - just local places. But money is tight and I feel guitly when we do eat out.

I realised the other day at the Gourmet Burger place (is that the name?), that we could have managed with one less portion of chips between us, and that I could have managed to have water and not a coke. The burgers themselves were good value, but the extras were pricey.

So, what are your top tips for keeping the bill down but still managing to eat out (no fast food places please!)

MutantSpaceGoat Sun 14-Sep-08 21:45:22

thing is - if you start being a tight arse in restaurant the whole experience is spoilt by the sullen staff. eat out less and enjoy it when you do.

Dior Sun 14-Sep-08 21:45:35

Message withdrawn

Dropdeadfred Sun 14-Sep-08 21:47:11

Skip one lunchtime (stay at home instead and bake cakes or make delicious sandwiches) and enjoy the next one in a restaurant all the more...

IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 21:47:31

I couldn't care less what the staff think. I am the customer. Also, we tend to eat lunch really early (noon) cause of the kids so we are often one of the only customers so it think they should be grateful we are there!

Dropdeadfred Sun 14-Sep-08 21:48:35

mid week or weekends?

Rubyrubyruby Sun 14-Sep-08 21:49:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Saturn74 Sun 14-Sep-08 21:49:41

wear trainers.
do a runner after pud.

IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 21:49:50

Always weekends. We have a Nandos near us and the kids love it. I agree that it is good value too, but DH and I are not that fond of the food.

amidaiwish Sun 14-Sep-08 21:51:45

how old are your dcs?
i tend to bring my DDs' beakers with us everywhere we go... saves a fortune on drinks.

it's not just about money save though - i know they will just spill a massive glass of apple juice, or just neck it down and then not be able to eat anything. Often you can't get apple juice / watered down ribena so nothing suitable for them except water.

TheBlonde Sun 14-Sep-08 21:52:28

Make sure you avail yourself of any discount eg FBC does a card they stamp and after so many you get free burger

Have you thought about doing reviews? They don't pay but the food/drink is free

Dropdeadfred Sun 14-Sep-08 21:54:34

Nandos is boring...chicken chicken and more chicken

Majeika Sun 14-Sep-08 21:55:56

Blonde - how do you do reviews?

IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 21:56:14

My children are 7, 4 and newborn. We have stopped buying them apple juice as it is just too expensive. We always ask for tap water for them, but I think we need to do that for us too.

What is the review thing? How do you do that?

I look out for discount coupons, but they are never for weekends.

PavlovtheCat Sun 14-Sep-08 21:57:15

A noodle bar? Always found them to be great, good food, quick and not expensive. You know, like Wagamma's but not as expensive, just a run of the mill noodle bar.

TheBlonde Sun 14-Sep-08 22:00:09

You need to register with one of the review organisations - there are probably details on moneysavingexpert and the like

I used to do stuff for the.servicepractice.com/ alas the website is not much use

You get to review pubs/bars/shops/restaurants
You have to fill out a questionnaire afterwards and rate the service and any other stuff they are judging

SmugColditz Sun 14-Sep-08 22:01:53

If you are reduced to drinking tap water then you would have much more fun at home. Why bother eating out?

IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 22:04:26

Why would tap water both me? Its what we drnk at home. Its the food we go out for.

Dropdeadfred Sun 14-Sep-08 22:05:33

Surely it would be b etter to actually be able to fully enjoy eating out once a month or so rather than economising so much that you do not have an enjoyable lunch out?

SmugColditz Sun 14-Sep-08 22:08:25

YOu can make just as nice a meal at home though, for a fraction of the cost, if it's the food you like. The only different thing in a restaurant is the atmosphere, which in mho you spoil by having to cut back on trimmings

BecauseImWorthIt Sun 14-Sep-08 22:08:34

Have a starter rather than a main course.

We go out for dinner with the children every Sunday.

Tonight, instead of a main course that would have cost £11.50 I had a starter that cost £4.95, plus a side salad.

There was more than enough, tbh.

IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 22:11:03

I cook nice meals at home all the time. We eat everything freshly cooked. I still like eating out. I think its good for the children too.

Good idea about the starters - thanks.

Lmccrean Sun 14-Sep-08 22:11:32

lots of discounts for restaurants about. look here or about half way down the page

As you mentioned, not all will apply at weekends, but some do.

chipmunkswhereareyou Sun 14-Sep-08 22:12:18

I can't think of anything more that you can do apart from cutting down on drinks as you/ others say and skipping a course. Beyond that you'll be reducing things down so much it will defeat the purpose. I'd cut frequency down by half....and spend the same.

snowleopard Sun 14-Sep-08 22:20:18

I often try to eat out cheaply when I'm out with DS for the day. If we go to a costa coffee type place, I sometimes drink tap water, share a sandwich with DS, and then have apples (brought from home) after we've left, or share a flapjack or chocolate from a corner shop for pudding.

Another great tip is in the cafe in John Lewis, ask for the roast potatoes and vegetables like you get with the roast, but not the meat itself. You get a huge pile - feeds me and DS and the roasties are very nice with tomato sauce - and it's incredibly cheap, less than £3.

Ikea cafe is also very good for an inexpensive meal out with kids.

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