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7 tips for eating out on a budget

Finance & Money

Posted on Monday, April 19, 2021

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 These days life can be so pricey that any outing can appear to be a major splurge. But, good news! You don’t need to wreck your budget to enjoy nice things like eating out.


With a few budgeting tricks and research, you can comfortably enjoy a meal out with your loved ones. And, as always, it’s important to remember COVID-19 protocols like social distancing and wearing your mask in restaurants when not eating.


Here are some of our tips for eating out on a budget.


  1. Eat smart

Whether you’re going out in a group or alone, check out the menu for prices before heading out. This will allow you to budget ahead of time and scope out how meals are offered. For example, some restaurants charge separately for mains and sides (e.g. a burger and fries). This may end up being more expensive. If you find that a restaurant is outside of your price range, don’t be afraid to speak up.


2. Bag some deals
Follow your favourite restaurants on social media and keep your eyes peeled for any deals. Additionally, use these apps for vouchers and other discounts:

  • Hyperli. Offers vouchers for various restaurants, activities and getaways in South Africa and, in some cases, international deals too.
  • Clink. Nothing is more refreshing than a free drink! The Clink app allows its members to get a free drink at different venues around Cape Town and Johannesburg, listed in locations closest to you. There’s a seven-day trial and a subscription fee thereafter. All you have to do is select your drink and show the bartender your app.
  • The ENTERTAINER app. This money-saving app boasts 2-for-1 offers that range from fine dining to casual dining, and even activities and hotel stays for less.
  • Mr D Food. If you’re skipping the restaurant and dining at home with friends or family, this favourite takeaway app has daily and monthly vouchers. Keep an eye on phone and email alerts to use their deals.


3. Say no to extras

Watch out for words like ‘extra’, ‘add’ or ‘plus’ in the menu or when the waiter talks. These words mean you’re going to pay more. You may have to skip the extra sauce and cheese, and other toppings, but your bank will be happier for it.


4. Do dessert smart

You can have your sweet treat and stick to your budget too. Desserts are usually pricier at restaurants, so rather indulge somewhere else. You could make it an after-dinner activity by buying ice cream and taking a stroll or going to a more cost-effective dessert joint.


5. Go Dutch
Splitting meals makes dining out easier on your pocket, and you can try more foods too. And don’t worry, you definitely won’t go hungry if you share since restaurant meals generally offer large portions. Meals like pasta, nachos, fries, pizza and rice are great sharing options. Ask for extra plates and cutlery to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

6. Buy the family meal

Often, family meals are large portions. So if you’re going out in a group, particularly with close family or friends, it’s a great option. For more variety and to make it more filling, you could order a few sides, drinks and desserts to split too.


7. Dine during the day
Generally, going out for lunch or breakfast is cheaper than supper. Make group or solo meal plans daytime activities. What’s more, if you pop out for lunch during the week, you’re sure to get great lunch deals!