12 clever ways to spend less when eating out

Never pay full price for a meal out in Dubai again

Cleo Pimentel-Capili, Special to Guides
13:00 November 13, 2017
Two burgers

Families and groups of friends love eating out and the best way to experience the best flavours this city has to offer, is to take advantage of rewards, freebies and loyalty points.

Here are some clever ways to save even when eating out.

Bring your own water

Image result for water bottle

The cost of water in certain restaurants can be truly absurd here in the UAE. Some places charge you quadruple the amount it costs for local water. Bring your own water from home, so you don't have to order expensive restaurant water. 

Split the meal

Share meal

Most non-fine dining spots offer generous servings. Usually restaurants pile a crazy amount of food that's a lot more than you actually can (and should) consume. So if you aren't very hungry, share your main with a friend. You can also try sharing a main course as an appetiser, then ordering appetisers as your main course. Divide the portions and split the bill after.

Ladies and Gent's nights 

Dubai is one of the few places around the world where women can enjoy nights out without spending a dime. Ladies night is a ritual and an institution for expat women all over the city. Many venues across the city offer free beverages and amazing discounts on food.

A few places also host gentlemen's evenings, where men can enjoy discounted prices on food and beverages.

Find out where women can enjoy free beverages and a discount on food.

Rewards cards

Rewards card

Different restaurants in the UAE offer diners a chance to claim rewards points after signing up to their loyalty programs. Members can sometimes enjoy free desserts, beverages or even a full on meal during special occasions. If you hang out at your favourite spot often, ask if you can join their rewards program and make sure to give them your exact birth date, as some places offer treats if you dine in on your special day.

Kids can eat free

Kids eat free

Families often go out with the little ones and feeding a family of 4 can sometimes get expensive. It’s worth looking out for local places that offer free dining for kids. There are weekly brunches with kids-eat-free deals, while others offer daily kids’ meals. It's a great way to save money, if you only have to spend on the adults. 

Time-locked deals

Two burgers

Some restaurants and fast food chains offer cheaper meals at specific times of the day. Sometimes, the usual (and more affordable) breakfast is available to order until lunch. There are food places that offer half-the-price deals for a specific part of their menu during lunch or dinner hour.

Take home leftovers

Takeaway meal

Taking home leftovers does not really save you as much money because you’re still paying in full, but last night’s dinner can double as lunch the next day. It is so much better than letting that extra food go to waste.

Buy-one, get-one offers

Buy one get one

Take advantage of buy one get one free offers. You could invest in coupon apps like The Entertainer or try Groupon. Either you take a friend with you to split the bill, or you can grab both meals and save the other half for later. If you’re feeling generous, this is the best way to treat more of your friends and family without hurting your pocket.

Online promotions and coupons

Aside from restaurants, many websites offer tons of discount promotions if you sign up or buy something online. There are also sites available in the UAE that sell coupons which you can show at your favourite restaurants to pay less on their regular menu items. 

Discount publisher

electronic voucher

Start your saving journey by buying a savings booklet or downloading the app version, which you can use for the whole year at participating establishments. Redeem vouchers and just present these when you ask for your bill from participating merchants. Check with the outlet if you can use the voucher before you make your order, as some offers are not available during public holidays or weekends.

Flyers and insert packages in newspapers or magazines

You can turn to newspaper and magazine inserts to save money. Leading newspapers here in the UAE use coupon advertising. Most of your favourite outlets partner with publishers to offer discounts on new items on their menu to be featured seasonally for lower than average rates. So pick up the paper whenever you can and read through to find these coupons. 

Birthday treats

Celebrate birthday

Many restaurants offer birthday freebies. You could get your own meal for free if you dine in with a certain number of guests or receive a birthday cake if you tell them it’s your birthday. Just make sure you have a valid identification with you as some establishments double check the information before you can get the perk.  Find out where you can enjoy a freebie on your birthday.