Brand AND Budget: The Best Cheap Meals Out

When attempting to save money, the first things to go tend to be the small luxuries in life such as clothes shopping, trips to the cinema and eating out. Although your bank account will be grateful, you may end up missing out on social occasions and celebratory events.

A small loan may help you make ends meet until life becomes a little quieter, but you’ll be glad to hear that budgeting doesn’t have to make you miserable; there are ways to still enjoy yourself and indulge in the occasional meal out, without destroying your finances.

Avoid expensive beverages

We all like a drink or two after a busy day at work or when socialising with friends at the weekend, but these can end up taking a significant bill at the end of the night. Even soft drinks can add up.

You are much better off purchasing a bottle of wine or fizzy drink at your local supermarket and saving it for a casual night in at home, rather than splashing out on beverages double the price in a restaurant. Opt for tap water to wash down your meal instead.

Alternatively, hunt down restaurants near to you with a BYOB (bring your own booze) policy. Some eateries without a full alcohol license will let you bring your own drink along with you, saving you money and essentially giving you more choice.

Stick to one course

Although a three course meal sounds very appealing to the ravenous individual, starters and desserts can often be overpriced and aren’t really a necessity. Pick a main that is sure to fill you up and satisfy your taste buds so you aren’t left wanting more.

However, do keep an eye out for deals offering more than one course for a reduced price. This will often be on a separate, set menu but there should still be a variety of tasty yet affordable options available.

Burgers and chips on a table in a restaurant

Lunchtime deals

Who said eating out has to be an evening activity? Many restaurants will offer lunchtime deals or reduced weekday prices, so check if your desired place to eat is offering this before you settle on going for dinner.

The following restaurants offer affordable, lunchtime deals;

  • Pizza Hut – Unlimited lunch buffet from £7.50 for adults and £4.99 for kids on any given weekday.
  • Ask Italian – Lunch menu offering 2 courses for £9.95.
  • Nando’s – Selected Nando’s restaurants have recently introduced a new lunch menu, offering dishes from just £5.95 (for a limited time only).
  • Harvester – 2 courses for £8.99, 3 courses for £10.99.

Be a loyal customer

Loyalty equals rewards

Most restaurants will have a scheme in place whereby you can receive free food or discounts from being a loyal customer and singing their praises to your friends and family.

Download the app

If your desired place to eat has a mobile phone app, be sure to download it and start reaping the benefits it has to offer. These may include a free side or starter or money off your bill. These offers will usually be available once you have visited a certain amount of times or recommended the restaurant to a friend.

Loyalty card

A similar model to the app in the form of a physical or digital loyalty card where you can gain points each time you visit, leading to a free item on the menu once you have been to that restaurant a certain number of times.

Starbucks loyalty card inside brown leather wallet


Allowing restaurants to send you promotional emails means you will never miss a deal and you can time when you choose to eat out in line when there is an offer running.

Not forgetting student discount! You only have it for a few years so take full advantage and make sure you have your NUS card, UNiDAYS ID or University card on you when it comes to paying the bill.

Take advantage of leftovers

No one wants good food to go to waste. Towards the end of the day, restaurants (as well as supermarkets) may reduce their prices in order to shift the last lot of food for the day. Take advantage of this, choosing the right time to go out and scouting which establishments have this system in place before you settle on where to go.

Apps such as Too Good To Go are also a great way to get the taste of your favourite restaurant or takeaway, without the price tag. It works by offering a ‘Magic Bag’ of unsold food at a significantly reduced price.

TO BARE IN MIND: What is included in the ‘Magic Bag’ is a surprise so be aware of this if you are a fussy eater!


As you can see, eating out on a budget doesn’t have to be a huge strain on your finances with plenty of affordable options available. However, if you do find yourself short of money during a busy month of social outings, contact us to find out more today.

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