Restaurant deals: How to eat out for less

Rachel Burge
Side profile of two women sitting in a restaurant and smiling, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Side profile of two women sitting in a restaurant and smiling, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Before you book a table at a restaurant, check to see if you can grab a bargain. There are ways to find vouchers, two-for-one deals and money-off coupons, if you know where to look.

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Money Saving Expert
Money Saving Expert has a regularly-updated page showcasing current restaurant deals, including online vouchers, which you can either print out or show to the waiter on your smartphone. Check the small print (some offers are only available on certain days/times) and closing dates carefully. You'll find various deals at major chains, such as Pizza Express, Bella Italia and Ask, as well as pub meal offers at Harvester, Slug and Lettuce and All Bar One. You'll also find freebies and 'kids eat for £1' promotions at the likes of Carluccio's and Toby Carvery.

Voucher sites
Sites like Vouchercodes and Vouchercloud are another good place to search for cheap meal deals. Again, it tends to be the major chains but there are lots of establishments to choose from. Vouchercodes, for example, have 25 per cent off your food bill at Pizza Express, 50 per cent off main courses at Ask, and buy one main course get another for £2.50 at Café Rouge.

If you have a special occasion or fancy dining out somewhere a bit more upmarket, it's worth signing up to the likes of Groupon or Wowcher. As well as goods, holidays and services, you'll find plenty of restaurant deals. Set your location and you'll be shown deals from establishments in your area. For example, with Groupon you could enjoy a night of live opera with dinner for two, plus prosecco and cocktail each at Bel Canto, Hyde Park for £49 (normally £134). Deals changes on a daily basis, so it's worth signing up for regular alerts.

Restaurant rewards sites
If you eat out regularly you might want to register with a reward site, such as Toptable. It enables you to book a table online and enjoy savings at the restaurant as a result, including free drinks, discounted set menus and up to 50 per cent off your food bill. As an extra bonus, every time you book through the site you'll earn reward points, which can later be exchanged for a free meal at selected restaurants. The site includes a wide range of eateries, from every day to fine dining, and it's free to book via the site.

If you're a more impromptu diner, Tablepouncer allows you to book spare tables at restaurants on the day or the following evening. The restaurant will then discount the price of your meal by up to 70 per cent. There is, however, a £2.50 per person booking charge that you'll need to pay to the website.

Join the club
Diner's clubs such as Tastecard offer two-for-one meals and 50 per cent discounts at 7,067 participating restaurants. Tastecard charges £79.99 for a 12-month membership, but it may be worth it if you eat out frequently, and the site is currently offering a 30-day free trial so you can try before you buy.

Can't remember the last time you paid full price for a meal? Share your tips with others below...

Eating Out and Managing Your Diet
Eating Out and Managing Your Diet