A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with some friends over pizza. Although we each had drinks and a decent-sized pizza, our total bill only came to $6. Short of throwing a few coins on the table and hot-footing it out of the door before security gave chase, you’re probably wondering how we got away with paying so little. The answer is very simple: we used vouchers to cover the bulk of the costs and only had to pay the difference. We do this every time we eat out now and very rarely pay full price on any meal.

Before I go any further, I should clarify that this post will be predominantly about informal restaurants (fast food type places, if you like) as these are the most likely to offer voucher deals. So, how do we get our hands on these cost-cutting vouchers? Finding the vouchers usually comes down to me, because I’m the one who tends to organize our get-togethers. The options that we tend to use the most are:

Check voucher/deal websites. My first port of call is usually specific "voucher" websites that collect together deals and present them in one place. These are some of my usual haunts:

If I don’t see anything using this strategy, I’ll move on to some other options.
Look for newsletters. You may be able to sign up for newsletters or emails that contain links to vouchers that can be downloaded, printed, and taken to the venue. These are pretty commonly offered. All you need to do is sign up for the restaurant's email list and they'll send you random discount vouchers as well as free birthday meals.
Trawl the net. Sometimes, it can just be a case of doing a Google search for the restaurant that we want to go to. Because we’re so keen to use vouchers to cut costs, we’ll make plans around the deals that are on offer. That said, there are a handful of places that we know are likely to be offering vouchers at some point in the near future, so I do periodic Google searches every couple of weeks to see what’s being offered and when the vouchers will expire. A simple search phrase like “[Restaurant name] voucher deals” or "[Restaurant name] discount" will often bring up something relevant and timely.

Survey rewards. One of my friends is a member of an invite-only survey panel and receives reward vouchers a few times a year as a thank you for her ongoing participation. Sometimes she can choose to redeem them for specific restaurants (usually big names with branches all over the country) or sometimes they can be used at a range of places (not just restaurants).

How I Do Things

We plan where to go according to what vouchers we can get. Because of this, we’re unlikely to go to the same place two months in a row unless they’re offering continuous deals to draw customers in over a longer period of time. More likely, it’ll be a different venue each month depending on which vouchers are available at the time. As well as eating in, some of the vouchers that I come across are for deliveries. If the voucher gives us a good deal, we’ll often go with that option and go to someone’s place rather than go to a restaurant as it makes more sense and it's a nice changeup from going out.

If you’re someone who likes to eat out a lot, you’ll probably struggle to cover all of your costs with vouchers. Those that come via email promotions are likely to be a one-time only download relating to the email address that you signed up with. That said, there's nothing to stop your friends from also downloading a voucher so you can all make use of the same deal as long as you use them on separate occasions (most vouchers specify that you can only use one per order).

Do you take advantage of vouchers and coupons when you eat out? Do you have any additional tips for saving money when going out for food? Your feedback is always welcome!


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