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Eating Out On The Cheap

It may be time to tighten the purse strings but before you do away with eating out altogether, you should know there are some great ways to eat out on a budget!


Vouchers Only available through fund-raising groups, the Entertainment™ Book offers great value for money. It might seem expensive to fork out around $50 initially (depending on which state you’re in) but it’s worth it. Each book contains special 25 - 50% off and 2-for-1 offers from many of the best restaurants and fast food outlets throughout Australia.

Shop-a-Dockets You might’ve screwed-up your nose when Mum pulled-out the old supermarket shop-a-docket when were a kid but given the current economic climate, it’s time to suck it up. If you can’t manage to hold onto your receipts, visit, where you’ll find discount coupons and vouchers for hundreds of restaurants, pizza discounts and more.

Catering Schools If you want to save a bit of cash and you like living on the edge, why not eat out at catering college? Some catering schools, such as the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne give students the opportunity to cook for the public and in all seriousness, they’re mostly pretty good.

Local RSL Eating out at the local RSL offers great value for money – especially if you’re a member which really doesn’t cost much at all. Not only are the meals reasonably priced, there are usually regular specials and competitions as well. Hey, in these times who doesn’t like the idea of winning the ol’ meat tray? And if you’re a creature of habit who likes to know what you’re eating each day of the week, the RSL should be right up your alley. Monday is steak night, Tuesday, is roast night…you get the picture.

The Early-Bird Special Ever headed into a restaurant at 7.30 as the grey army was leaving and wondered how people can eat so early? Eating at 5.30pm may take some getting used to but you will save money. Mock if you will but today’s seniors have been through the hard times of yesterday and they can sniff out a bargain a mile away.

Drink Water or BYO Buying drinks when eating out is expensive and in some cases, ridiculously so. Next time you eat out; just drink water. Yes it's boring but look on the bright side, it's good for you and it’s free. If this is just out of the question then take your own bottle of wine. Purchasing wine from the restaurant will see you pay a whole lot more that you'd pay in the bottleshop. It’s a good idea to call ahead to check if the restuarant is BYO before you book.

Share Eating out in a group or even with just one other person can save you money. On average, restaurants have larger than average portions so if you share an entrée and main, you’ll probably end up with your standard sized meal anyway. If you’re not convinced, go to a place you know serves large portions.

Order Side Dishes Sure the waiter might raise his eyebrows as you order but who cares? You‘d be surprised how much money you can save by ordering a few side dishes instead of the traditional entrée, main and dessert etc.

Opening Specials Keep your eye out on new restaurants opening in and around your area. Many restaurants have opening specials to draw the locals in.

Freebies for the Kids Sometimes restaurants, particularly buffet style, offer special deals where the kids (usually considered people under 12 years) can eat for free. When calling to make a reservation, ask.

Eat Early in the Week Again, this is a well known secret known by our seniors. Mondays and Tuesdays are traditionally quiet nights for restaurants because it’s the beginning of the week and people are generally people are settling back into the weekly grind for school and work etc so some restaurants offer special deals to lure you in.

Get on a Restaurants Mailing List If you have a favourite restaurant, get on their mailing list. Sure you’ll get an email every time they update their menu but if you’re lucky, there might also be a special in there from time to time, too.

Anita Stevens, Citysearch

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15 User reviews (add yours)

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May 20, 2009

getting your parents to cook - now that's cheap

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June 22, 2009

my husband and I love our local RSL. Tighta@#$ tuesdays are the best!

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June 22, 2009

I agree the entertainment books are awesome value. We eat our regularly and you usually get at least 25% off the total bill.

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June 23, 2009

agree with the comment on the entertainment book. seems like a lot at first but you save heaps. we eat out regularly and go to different restaurants and most times you get 25% og the bill.

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July 27, 2009

What about going to the market and haggling on Fresh Fruit and Veg, you can name your price on closing time. South Melbourne Market on a Sunday afternoon is bargain city!

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September 04, 2009

lest we forget the hospitaility people, who all need a job!!

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November 19, 2009 This is my favourite place for lunch. It's a Huge Sandwich, comes with drink and it's less than $8. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the bread, YUM!! The schnitzel is soooo delicious and I think the potato salad is to die for!! :-)

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January 15, 2010

Korean food - really good value for less. Meal for two at Kimchi Grandma in carnegie was $45 and that included miso soup, rice, kimchi, chilii prawns and sizzling beef.

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June 01, 2010

I agree with ordering the entrees or a few appetisers instead of a main course. My friends and I do it because we like a bit of variety but you can really save $$$ too.

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June 01, 2010

make your own pizza at home; it tastes better and you know exactly what went into it. 15 mins in the oven; yum

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June 04, 2010

I tell you what's cheap - dumplings! Our local dumpling house has a fantastic chilli oil broth with around 12 dumplings in it for $7.80. So filling and tastes awesome!

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July 27, 2010

if anyone has tried lazy moes you'll know what I mean when I say the meals are absolutely massive - almost bordering on disgraceful they are that big but you can't argue it's not value for money.

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August 08, 2010

Great article! I couldn't agree more with the William Anglis. Here are their dates:

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November 20, 2010

the returned and services league. for people who have served or who are still serving in the defence force. google it.

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May 23, 2011

User rated 4 star for this content

Pretty awesome!

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