Dining out has become embedded into our everyday lives. No longer considered a luxury, we now live in a society where it’s deemed normal to spend money eating out on a weekly basis. A study by OpenTable has revealed that Brits eat out 1.5 times a week on average, spending around £50 per meal.1
We recently carried out a survey2 which investigated some of the spending habits of Gen O – the Ostrich Generation with their hands in the savings sand. It revealed that a significant proportion (21%) of these 16-34 year olds admit to spending most of their disposable income on eating out. As a result, it appears that paying a premium to dine out has become a huge contributing factor towards their inability to save for the future.
Do not save as much money as they’d like to
Worry about how much debt they have
Say their finances make them feel stressed
Save nothing at all each month
It’s clear that by saving a small amount of money each week on food and dining out, the savings will soon add up – helping Gen O to start putting more money away each month. So, we got in touch with a group of Gen O foodies, to find out how they manage to cut down costs of eating out, without forfeiting their social lives.
Tips from Gen O foodies
Enjoy food with your neighbours
“Menu Next Door is great! You find people in your area cooking food you like, and then go round and get it! You can chat to the cook and the other people collecting food too. Super social, you don’t have to cook, but it’s still cheaper than a meal out.”
Annys, 24, Devon
Come dine with…friends
“My friends and I love doing our own version of Come Dine with Me. By taking it in turns to cook, you save money, eat well and improve your cooking skills. It’s also a fab excuse to sit down together and socialise, and sometimes we even score each other to add some friendly competition!”
Amy, 30, Southampton
Recreate restaurant menus
“I often take a restaurant theme and try and create it at home for much less. Even copying exact dishes off restaurant menus! For example, we’ve tried handmade Nandos night and often do Mexican or Spanish tapas evenings! I love to cook and I'm pretty good at it so I usually play host, and friends and family come to me. I either get them to bring a selected dish to add to the spread, or just chip in some money. We often time going to the supermarket with the purpose of getting in first to the reduced isles. It’s 8pm or 9pm for Sainsbury’s and 5pm or 6pm for Waitrose. We get crazy bargains and put them in the freezer!”
Natalie, 25, Stokenchurch
Do your research
“I put the time in once a week to research, budget and meal plan! My girlfriend and I are doing different lunches and dinners every day for 7 days for under £50. It’s not difficult to spend that on alcohol and a meal in just one night!”
James, 33, Beaconsfield
Housemate chef rotations
“I live with two other guys and we all take turns cooking each night: One has the night off, one cooks and the other cleans. It’s a really good system as you save lots of money, force yourself to cook better and different dishes, and you have a tidy house all the time (most of the time)!”
Tom, 27, London
Make the most of discounts
I use Woucher and Groupon and can't remember the last time I paid full price. For example, for the pub near me, Sunday roast for 2 people on Groupon works out £9, but if you just turn up on the day it's £9.50 each.”
Ollie, 25, Kent
Swap weekend meals with midweek deals
“We have a lot of restaurants in Yorkshire that offer midweek deals when it comes to eating out. Therefore for our social nights, instead of going out on Friday, we go out on a Tuesday or Wednesday and save around 20%. To save money on food, we speak to everyone in the office and see if multiple people want similar lunches so we can spread the cost of things like fruit, bread or meats. It also saves waste.”
Anthony, 26, Yorkshire
“Me and my uni pals tend to do big meals together at home instead of eating out, and when we do eat out we try and go to places we can get vouchers for.”
Lizzie, 21, Sheffield
Make it a special occasion
“I use OpenTable, and try to have sit down meals out very rarely. Then when I do have one I make it somewhere fairly special and try to get lots of people in on it. It makes eating out more of an occasion rather than a regular occurrence.”
Matt, 25, London
Online shops to help you budget
“My boyfriend and I do an online shop every 1-2 weeks. Not as expensive as you think as we always get deals and offers. It helps us make sure we stick to £40 per shop and we get all our lunches, dinners, toiletries and other stuff for the flat. We’ve been able to save a lot!”
James, 23, London
Supplement your takeaways
“Ordering meat from takeaways and cooking your own rice at home while you’re waiting for it is a great way to save some money. Steak nights or pie and pint nights tend to be competitively priced on certain nights of the week too.”
Adam, 31, Surrey
Sharing is caring
“On nights out, sharing platters rather than individual starters are great as they’re cheaper to share. Also, I always cook more dinner than I need to so I can have it for lunch the next day. It saves me a fiver at the really expensive food van at work.”
Jack, 19, Marlow
How else can you cut food costs?
We also spoke with Approved Food and Boxed Out PR, to find out some other ways to keep down your food expenses:
- Utilise your freezer: Don’t waste food by throwing it away as you’d be surprised with what you can freeze. Grated cheese, bread, margarine, cooked rice and cakes for example. Freeze any excess food and you’ll always have a back up to use if you’re tight on money at the end of the month.
- Double check your kitchen: Always check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before you buy new food. The chances are you’ll find something you’d forgotten you had, and won’t need to spend any more money.
- Shop together: Partner with family or friends when doing your shopping online so you can split the cost of delivery and share offers such as buy one get one free.
- Never shop on an empty stomach: You’re much more likely to buy food you don’t need and spend extra money.
- Use discount sites: Bookatable or Tastecard will allow you to eat at top restaurants whilst receiving money off or 2-4-1 offers.
- Play host: The best way to save money and socialise is to host a dinner party or BBQ. Invite your friends over and ask them to supply the drinks, or agree that everyone puts a certain amount of money in to pay for everything.
So, next time you’re thinking of eating with your friends or family, why not try one of these handy tips or tricks. You’ll be able to put some extra cash away each month, to help make sure you’re not dining out on your savings pots.
Gen O: Are we dining out on our savings pots?
Find out more about Gen O’s eating habits and the current trends which are encouraging them to spend so much on eating out
The impact of 'invisible spending' on your finances
The cost of ’Invisible items’ such as your morning coffee or a mid-morning snack can quickly add up, impacting your ability to save for the future