Have you ever felt so poor that you’ve considered going to sleep at 7pm, just so you didn’t have to buy any dinner? Uuuhhhh, no me neither… If this sounds like something that might have crossed your mind once or twice, then read on! I’m here to tell you a couple of ways I save money on one of life’s greatest pleasures; FOOD.
1. Sign up to newsletters
You either love them or hate them, but there’s no denying that newsletters are a bloody good way of finding deals. All you need to do is give your email address to your favourite restaurants, and wait for the special offers and freebies to come rolling in. Pizza express is a great example of a restaurant who love to give away everything from free dough balls to a week in the south of France.
2. Social Media
If the thought of getting more emails fills you with dread, then simply follow your faves on Instagram and Twitter. You’ll be able to spot any deals or offers the brand are promoting, all at the scroll of a finger. Following hashtags is also a great way of discovering new offers. #londoncheapeats and #londonsoftlaunch are two of my favourite. The only down side to this approach… food envy.
3. For a good cause
Hate food waste? Then this little tip will be right up your street! Apps like Karma or Too Good to Go send you notifications when restaurants nearby have food that’s close to being chucked. They’ll then offer it to you for a sweeeet (or savoury) discount.
4. Voucher apps
If you’re after quick and easy food discounts then voucher apps are a great place to start. Vouchercloud has heaps of offers from classic chains such as Prezzo and Cafe Rouge. Chain snobs may be put off from using this app, but every time I’ve been the food has been delicious and great value for money. If you’re looking for more independent restaurants then Citymunch is a great option.
5. Supermarket savings
Everyone knows about the loyalty cards at Tesco and Sainsbury’s, but did you know there’s a handy little app called Stocard which stores all your details in one place? You’ll need to already be signed up to the loyalty schemes, but once you have your card simply use your camera to scan its bar code. It will then show on the app as a virtual wallet. Save money and precious purse space – win win!
6. Birthday treats
Get a few extra presents this year by making sure you’re clued up on all of the birthday freebies on offer! Personal faves? Free main and side at Meat Liquor, free sweet treat from Greggs and a free milkshake at Ed’s Diner. But watch out, you will be exposed to excessive levels of sugar. See my whole list of Birthday Freebies HERE.
7. Fast food hacks
Feel a pang of guilt over the deliciously awful burger you’re about to tuck into? Well don’t, you’ve saved yourself some money and it honestly tastes wonderful. McDonald’s, BK and KFC all have hacks to save you pounds. I’d start by downloading their apps, which all have loyalty rewards. I was rewarded a free side at KFC just for downloading the app.
8. Off peak deals
If you don’t work the traditional 9-5 then this tip is going to suit you well. Restaurants can be a little quiet at certain times of the day, so they like to draw you in with tasty money-saving offers. Restaurant app Open Table have a huge amount of “Pre & Post Theatre” dining offers which generally means if you eat before 6pm or after 9pm you can access special discounts. This can be a great way to experience some of the fancier London restaurants and save money. My favourite deal has to be the £25 two course meal at Hawksmoor if you order before 6.30pm. For anyone working a little later, Itsu and Wasabi reduce their prices by a huge 50%, thirty minutes before they close, in an effort to sell the last remaining stock of the day. Starbucks do a similar thing, offering half priced food an hour before they shut their doors.
9. Mystery Shopping
Mystery shopping can be a great way to eat out for free – companies will ask you to eat at the restaurant and assess if the food, service and premise are to a good standard. In some cases you will even get paid on top of your free meal! You would have to be really ON IT for this to become a weekly thing, but it’s worth a try (and it’s quite fun to go undercover once in a while). I’ve signed up with a company called Market Force, but Mystery Dining and Service Scan are some other options.