eating out on the cheap

Eating Out On The Cheap Without Blowing Your Food Budget

Eating out on the cheap is an art mastered by few.

Kale and ricotta pizza, chia smoothie bowls, elderflower kombuchas, or a cheeky white wine…

…your food bill can add up quickly.

It doesn’t have to though.

We are here to tell you you don’t have to blow your budget when you wish to enjoy a meal on the town.

In fact, it’s not that hard to eat out on the cheap if you know what to look out for.

Therefore, just for you, we’ve put together the below tips to help you prevent overspending when eating out.

Read on to find out how.

1. Make Use Of Special Offers And Vouchers

The hospitality industry is a competitive place. Many cafes, restaurants, and eateries are competing for your business.

Therefore, many establishments offer special discounts or hand out vouchers to encourage you to eat at their business.

A great way of eating out on the cheap is to take advantage of these offers. A lot of these deals can be found on an eatery’s Facebook page, on their website, or via their weekly newsletter or by text messages they send out to their customers notifying them of any upcoming deals.

Signing up to a voucher code app is also another great way to save a bit of cash. Voucher code apps use your phone’s GPS to locate restaurants or cafes nearby that are offering their customers special offers.

2. If You Are A Student, Use This To You Advantage

Your student card is a Godsend, isn’t it?

Half price movies, cheap drinks at your local bar, and, of course, it can save you a tonne of money on food also. 

Loads of eateries offer student discounts or free drinks with their meals. Therefore, take your student card with you at all times. You never know when a student food deal will raise its wonderful head.

Even if an establishment isn’t advertising student discounts it never hurts to ask, you never know what some people are willing to offer their customers.

3. Keep A Lookout For All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

Sure, it often isn’t the best food and stuffing yourself to the brim isn’t the most comfortable habit you can have, however, one thing is for sure, all-you-can-eat buffets won’t leave you hungry.

And they are a great way to save a little money, especially when you are super hungry.

You could think of it this way. The more you eat now, the less you’ll need to later. Just don’t expect to want to do anything after you’ve visited. 

Perhaps it’s a good idea to take it easy after you’ve visited…

…remember Netflix is your best friend in these situations.

4. Have A Premeal Before You Head Out

Sure, this will ruin some of your appetite. However, it is also likely to save you some money if you’re looking for tricks to eating out on the cheap.

Going to an eatery on an empty stomach is a sure way to order the biggest, and most expensive, meal on the menu. 

Plus, you’ll be tempted to order an entree and dessert. 

Therefore, grab a light snack before you head out. This should help to take the edge off your rumbling stomach and ensure you won’t overspend on your food bill. 

Let’s be honest, a hungry mind doesn’t make the most logical decisions. Don’t let your stomach talk you into blowing your monthly food budget all in one meal!

5. Ask For A Doggy Bag

Ever ordered a meal, it’s delicious, but you just can’t quite fit it all in?

It seems a shame to waste it, doesn’t it?

Well, you don’t have to. 

Simply ask your waiter for a doggy bag or take-home container. Most establishments are happy to do this for you, they don’t want to see the food go to waste just as much as you do.

And really there’s nothing better than waking up to a bit of last night’s curry or cold pizza in the morning for breakfast. Especially if you’ve had a few too many drinks the night before.

Leftovers are the perfect hangover cure.

6. Take Advantage Of BYO

If you enjoy a cheeky wine or a cold lager with your meal but don’t want to overspend on expensive alcohol prices, then hunt down restaurants that offer BYO services.

Sure, most establishments will charge you a corking fee, however, it’s normally worth paying this small fee than overspending on alcoholic beverages.

Many restaurants will clearly advertise if they are BYO, if not, perhaps give them a call or jump on their website beforehand to see if they offer these services.

7. Make Use Of Loyalty Programs

Many restaurants and cafes want your continual business. As a result, many eateries are now offering loyalty programs to keep you returning.

Whether it be in the form of an app or a physical card. You just need to ensure they either stamp your card or scan the app’s barcode. Within no time you’ll have saved up enough loyalty points to score another free coffee or side of chips with your meal.


Yep, eating out on the cheap is that easy.

8. Keep An Eye Out On Social Media Accounts

Businesses of every size are now using social media to promote themselves, and eateries are no different.

Therefore, it’s a great idea to follow your favorite places to eat on their social media accounts. They often run competitions for free meals, post vouchers for a cut off your bill, or offer limited-time discounts that you can take advantage of.

And it’s as easy as clicking follow on their Instagram or Facebook account.


These 8 tips should give you a couple of ideas to keep your food budget under control.

Another great way to keep your balance in check when eating out is to employ the help of Emma.

Emma is a money management app that will help you keep on top of any overspending. With the help of Emma, you’ll be able to set monthly budgets for eating out as well as many other categories.

Just connect your bank accounts and Emma will let you know if you’re spending too fast on restaurants so you can slow down before going into overdraft.

Emma believes that everyone deserves a financial advocate. That’s why she’ll make every effort to help you take control of your finances and provide you with the very best experience she possibly can.

Emma is available for easy download on both the App Store and Google Play Store.

Edouard Daunizeau

I look after all things Growth here at Emma. I come from France and have spent the last few years scaling consumer tech startups in the UK and beyond. 🚀