How to get cheaper restaurant meals Dining out doesn't need to be hideously expensive. Eating cheap when you're out doesn't mean a diet of dollar menu items. There are plenty of ways to cut down your bill, whether a it's a 10% student discount or a 90% off coupon for a newly opened restaurant that you wrangled on a group buying site.
Here are five ways to save money while still enjoying the finer foods in life.
Find out how you can eat cheap at Elsternwick's Budapest restaurant. Photo: Budapest Restaurant.
Go for lunch Experience a fancy restaurant for less by getting lunch rather than dinner. Some of Melbourne's top restaurants offer set lunch menus, which work out to be much better value than their dinners. Bar Lourinha does two courses, dessert and a glass of wine for $40 for lunch on weekdays, while Bottega does a two-course lunch meal for $45 or a three-course meal for $55. A three-course lunch will set you back a mere $60, or a two-course lunch $45, at No 35. Flower Drum does a two-course lunch for $45, three courses for $60, or four courses for $75.
Enjoy restaurant such as Bottega on the cheap by making it a lunch date. Photo: Bottega.
Perhaps the most obvious way to save some coin on dining out is by purchasing restaurant vouchers from group buying sites. They're also a great way to find out about places you would have never tried otherwise. Discounts will typically be between 25% and 70% off full price, which you pay upfront when you purchase the voucher. The restaurant deals will often be a set menu. Chains will usually have a simpler deal, such as a half-price burger offer.
Websites such as Groupon, OurDeal, and Deals.com.au are among the most popular. Be sure to read the fine print on each voucher you buy- many of them can only be booked for certain times. Always be mindful of the expiry date. A 50% dinner isn't so cheap after all if you never redeem the voucher.
Save some serious coin on dining out with group buying deals. Photo: Ben Hosking.
Get two-for-one and discount deals on restaurants and more with the Greater Melbourne Entertainment Book.
The Greater Melbourne Entertainment Book is a yearly book of vouchers on everything you need to indulge and have fun, from accommodation to attractions to shopping and, of course, restaurants. The Entertainment Book costs $65 and includes discounts and offers for restaurants such as Red Spice Road, Number 8 and Sapore.
The Entertainment Book is sold through charities and community organisations, with 20% of the cost of each book going towards their fundraising. There are only a limited number of copies of the book available each year.
Get out your student card
If you're a poor student, don't let it get in the way of eating out. It may not be fine dining, but plenty of chain restaurants such as Grill'd, La Porchetta, and Wagamama offer discounts to students. Often these are not widely publicised, so you have to ask.
One of the best value student deals is offered by The Pancake Parlour. They feature a special student menu with every item being $15. Options, which all come with a drink, include traditional bacon and eggs, cheese and potato pancake, and their regular stack.
Use your student card to score this cheese and potato pancake for $15. Photo: The Pancake Parlour.
Early bird dinners Many restaurants have specials for an early dinner, as long as you depart by a particular time. To name a few; Elsternwick's Budapest has $14 mains as long as you leave by 7pm (or 6:30pm on weekends), Flemington's Laksa King offers a 10% discount if you leave by 6:30pm, and Red Spice Road offers a shared banquet for $25 per person from 5pm to 6pm.
Get a 10% discount at Laksa King if you eat early. Photo: Laksa King.
Even the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is cheaper if you go for the earlier dinner sitting, costing $77 instead of the usual $121 per person (although there are three courses instead of five).