Money Wellness
Image of a waiter or waitress carrying two burgers and chips on wooden platters
category iconcost of living
calendar icon08 Jan 2024

The cost of eating out soars

Restaurants such as Pizza Express, Nando’s, The Real Greek, Zizi and McDonald’s have all increased their prices despite customers struggling with cost-of-living pressures, according to a report in the MailOnline.

Even Wetherspoons, renowned for low prices and value for money, has been forced to increase prices because of rising inflation and high basic food costs.

The MailOnline goes on to report that some restaurants have even shrunk portion sizes to cover up price rises.

The restaurants are blaming price rises on ongoing food inflation, combined with high rents, and increases to the minimum wage.

A classic margherita at Pizza Express has risen by 22% in the past four years. It cost £7.15 in 2012, rising to £7.55 in 2015, before increasing to £8.95 in 2019 and £10.95 today.

A Wiltshire Cured Ham and Cheddar Cheese Panini in Wetherspoons has risen from £4.29 in 2022 to £4.90 12 months ago. Today it’ll set you back £4.53 – a 29% increase.

While a quarter chicken with two sides at Nando’s has gone up from £8.25 in August 2021 to £10.75 at the start of this year, working out as a 30% price hike.

And a Souvlaki Wrap at Real Greek is up 40%, rising from £6.45 in October 2020 to £9 today.

The Mayo Chicken at McDonalds has also gone up by 40% in just 12 months - it was just 99p in January 2023 and is currently selling for £1.39.

And it doesn’t look like the price rises are set to slow any time soon, with further hikes due from April when business rates are set to increase.

How to save money on eating out

There’s lots of different ways to save money on eating out. Here’s our top six tips to make sure your bill is as appetising as the food.

Voucher codes

Spend some time researching where you’re planning to eat before you go. Many restaurants take part in voucher code schemes so it’s worth checking sites like VoucherCodes and HotUKDeals, which list all the latest discounts.

Some newspapers also run voucher schemes at different times throughout the year.

Get a birthday freebie

Loads of restaurants and cafes give you free stuff because it’s your birthday. Usually, you’ll need to sign up for their newsletter or create an account and let them know your date of birth. You’ll then get sent special offers around your birthday.

Restaurants tend to offer complimentary drinks, a free pudding or discount on your final bill as a birthday treat.

Skip the wine, soft drinks and coffee

Remember you’re there for the food not the drink. Wine, soft drinks, tea and coffee can soon add up so next time you go out, ask for free tap water. You’ll save around £10 when there’s two of you dining.

Go on a Monday or Tuesday

The first few days of the week are notoriously quiet for restaurants. Because of this they’ll usually offer specials to attract customers. Move your Saturday night dining to the start of the week and you could get your favourite food for much less.

Kids eat free

Plenty of restaurants offer free (or nearly free) meals for kids under 12. We have a list here. Research the restaurants that have these offers and you’ll make a great saving on your family night out.

Join dining clubs

Sign up for a membership at one of the dining clubs, such as Tastecard, Gourmet Society, and DineClub, and you’ll have access to discounts at thousands of restaurants across the UK. Some offer 2-4-1 deals, while others will give you free starters and deserts or money off your bill – sometimes up to 50%.

Some of the memberships offer free or £1 trials with periods ranging from 30 to 90-days, with annual costs afterwards between from £39.99 up to £69.99.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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