I often get asked how I manage to eat out so often and not be bankrupt, so I thought I'd do a small guide on how I do it. Even when I lived off £10 a week for nine months whilst in University to raise money for charity, every so often I would treat myself and go to Pizza Express with a friend. Vouchers are your best friend when eating out. I've broken this down into price brackets, with tips on how to eat out for a bargain within those budgets, so let's start with the cheapest and work our way up!
How to eat out for under £10
Vouchers and a Tastecard (we'll cover the Tastecard in the next section). That's how you do it for under a tenner, and pubs are always good too. You can get vouchers for free on various affiliate websites, and you can even get them from the restaurants themselves. Sign up to the newsletters for places like Pizza Express, GBK, Prezzo, Giraffe etc, and every so often an email will pop up with a '2 for 1' deal on a main course. If you go along with a friend, you can each have a main course, and if you stick with tap water the bill should only come to around £8 each depending on what you both choose!
How to eat out for £10-£20
My Tastecard is my best friend. I've had one for years and always re-subscribe, as it saves me so much money. Within one or two meals I've got my money back. However, never ever pay the full price. They often have special offers where you can get a card for £29.99 - look out for these and nab one when you see it. There are thousands of restaurants signed up to Tastecard, including lots of Marco Pierre White ones. Wheeler's of St James is included, and the deal is 50% off the entire bill (including alcohol!!) for up to 6 people, even on weekends! I got my money back on this meal alone last year.
Set menus are also brilliant for eating out on the cheap. Kettner's in Soho do a really great set menu for under £20, as do many other fantastic restaurants all around London.
How to eat out for £20-£30
What a lot of people don't know is that many of the top restaurants, Michelin starred ones included, do set menus or pre-theatre menus just like the cheaper restaurants! A lot of these are £25 for two courses or £30 for three, it all depends on the restaurant. Two of my favourite pre-theatre menus are Le Caprice in Mayfair and The Savoy Grill (a Gordon Ramsay restaurant!) in Aldwych. Top food for a fraction of the price! Lunch menus are also a great way to try out top restaurants at a fraction of the cost, especially week day lunches.
Keep an eye out for any new restaurants launching, they often have a 'soft launch' where they offer 50% off all food in the first few weeks of opening. This is a great way to test out new more expensive restaurants to see if they're worth paying full whack for a special occasion!
I hope this has helped a bit, it always amazes me how people don't really know much about the set menus in top restaurants and soft launch offers. You can find more tips for living on a budget here. What's your favourite place to eat out when on a budget?