Eating out: How to save money on your next dining experience | Mint

Eating out: How to save money on your next dining experience

On the global stage, Indians are ranked 10th when it comes to dining out. (Getty Images)
On the global stage, Indians are ranked 10th when it comes to dining out. (Getty Images)

Summary

Food apps offer discounts to members at restaurants; diners also get a rebate on use of some debit, credit cards.

There is no sincerer love than the love of food.

—George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

That love for food is the reason why dining out is back in vogue everywhere. On the global stage, Indians are ranked 10th when it comes to dining out. According to data published by catering industry specialists Gira, Indians eat out an average 1.1 times a week. According to this data released last year, the Spanish lead the rankings, eating out an average 4.3 times a week. However, Indians—especially the younger lot—are now dining out more frequently with friends and families.

Dining out, a favourite pastime globally, is driven by factors such as increased disposable income, urbanization, and the globalization of food culture. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns in 2020 put curbs on movement of people. Soon after it waned in 2021, there was a mad rush for all sorts of outdoor activities: shopping, travelling, adventure sports and eating out. According to data from dining platform Dineout, which analysed user behaviour on its platform, more than 45 million of its users visited restaurants in 2021. The average spending on dining spiked. The average bill on Dineout platform was 2,670 in 2021, from 1,907 in 2020– a jump of 40%.

While Indians too increased their share of spending on restaurant bills, they are also making the most out of a range of offers on dining apps, credit cards and debit cards to cut down on costs. Mint spoke with some young Indians to understand how they do this.

The regulars

Amit Yadav, 40, prefers to visit breweries in Bengaluru, rather than check out fine dining options. He goes out with his friends on most Fridays and with his family on Sundays.

Yadav prefers the breweries as they have multiple food options. “Usually, breweries have a lot of free space. Breweries are already very noisy and my son is a lot more comfortable here than in a fine dining setting," Yadav says.

However, he says finding good breweries on the food apps is not easy. Yadav recommends Zomato, the dining app, which he says has a better coverage of breweries. He also looks for places which also have non-vegetarian dishes on the menu as his wife and son are both vegetarians. Yadav says he has a Zomato Gold membership that typically gets him a 10-15% discount. His bills on such family outings come to 3,000, but he prefers to go dutch with friends.

Mumbai-based Mitsu Nitesh Buddhadev, 32, says she goes out with a group of friends she knows from her days of preparing for chartered accountant (CA) exams. She likes to catch up with them over dinners on the weekend.

Buddhadev initially used to compare offers from Zomato Gold and Dineout memberships. But Dineout (now acquired by Swiggy) has been consistently better and she has since stuck to it. She gets 10-15% flat discounts at restaurants with the Dineout membership. Her HDFC card gets her an additional 10-15% discount. “We usually go out in groups of 5-6 people. Our bill comes to around 3,000 and we end up saving around 500. So, in effect, we get our dessert for free" she says.

As a vegan, she looks for places where there are good vegan food options. “We don’t have much trouble finding it, as we just order our food without cheese, butter and paneer (cottage cheese). We also like Pan Asian food like Thai curry rice, which is anyway vegan," she says.

Buddhadev says food festivals such as the Great Indian Restaurant Festival (organized by Dineout), and others come out with some great offers. “Even without the festivals, you can sometimes get as much as 40% off on buffets at premium properties like JW Marriot and Renaissance. But during these festivals, the frequency of such offers goes up considerably," she says.

 

Graphics: Mint
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Graphics: Mint

The mood and occasion

Shreyans Jain, 35, a banking executive in Kolkata, says he uses Dineout and EazyDiner to get discounts. He usually goes with his family and occasionally with friends, and likes to eat out every 15-20 days.

Jain says having a good range of credit cards also helps to get additional discounts. “On Dineout, if you have HDFC Bank’s Diner Black Credit Card, you can get 15% discount over and above the restaurant discount. With the help of my Axis Bank card, I have been able to get a 20-25% discount, in addition to the restaurant discount from EazyDiner," Jain says.

He adds that, on an average, he gets a 20% discount at the restaurant itself and then additional discounts when he uses his Dineout memberhip and the credit card. Jain lets his EazyDiner points accumulate over time and then converts them into a dining voucher that he uses to pay at restaurants.

Jain also likes to use the seat booking facility available on the dining apps. “In some good restaurants, there is always a waiting time. With these apps, you can pick a slot and book your seat in advance free of cost," he says.

Jain’s favourites include the Pan Asian restaurant—The Flaming Bowl—and the aircraft-themed restaurant Fly Kouzina. Jain likes Chinese and north Indian cuisine, but says it all depends on his mood and the occasion.

Hasumati Vats, 39, goes out once in three months, but usually in a large group of eight-ten people. “Sometimes, it is just with friends. Sometimes, it is both our family and friends." She says the outings cost 7,000-10,000 each time. Her Zomato Gold membership helps cut the bills by 25%.

She likes Andhra food, biryani and also looks for places with good children’s menu for her two daughters—the eldest is seven years and the younger one is just six-month-old.

What to watch out for?

When considering which dining platform you should opt for, it is better to once go through the restaurants listed on the app. Some apps have better coverage in certain cities than other apps. Same goes for discounts: Some platforms tend to have better deals than others in certain cities.

To be sure, you can get good restaurant discounts without the membership on these platforms. Yet, a membership has certain privileges. For one, you might get better deals and easier access to restaurants. But such membership comes at a cost. For example, a Swiggy One membership costs 549 for three months or 1,999 for a year, Zomato Gold charges 149 for the same three months. Prime Membership at EazyDiner is available for 695 for three months. It also offers other options— 550 for one month and 2,395 for a year.

These offers can induce one to overspend, so it is advisable to plan your monthly dining out budget.

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