Are you someone who enjoys eating out? Are you also a cheapskate? If the answer to both the questions is a yes, then you are reading the right post.

Today while enjoying a AED 190 dinner for two at Eataly, I mentally jotted some of the things I learned during my three years of eating out with my own money.

Carry your own water

This is possibly the best trick I’ve learned! Water is sometimes 800-1000% more expensive at restaurants and one small bottle is never enough. So, my family and I started carrying our own bottles of water recently and that saved us about AED 30 per outing! Not to mention carrying your own water helps you drink more of it, which is never a bad idea.

Order drinks after food

If you really must order a mocktail with your meal, try ordering it halfway through your meal instead of the beginning. 60% of these drinks are ice and nobody likes sucking on ice by the time the food arrives. Ordering your drink after your food has arrived ensures you get to drink something tasteful with your food for a change! And God forbid you order something that needs gulping down…

2 people 1 dish

People don’t realize that there is no such thing as “order everything in one go.” Why is it that they feel they need to order one appetizer, two mains and two drinks for two people right at the beginning? Regardless of how big of an appetite you have, it is best to always share! If it’s good, great you can order more. If it’s bad, well you have company to share.

Waiters can help you choose

“What is your best seller?” is a free question that you can always begin your orders with. Sometimes the recommendations are good enough to save you a lot of money and bad choices.

Eat before you go out

There’s a study that proves that shopping hungry is never a good idea. Same applies for dining out. Every time I order when I’m hungry I end up over-ordering and then begging people to help me finish it. There’s an interesting word to describe this behavior in Urdu – it’s calledΒ hauka.

Go to restaurants that don’t need tips

Okay well they’re not the fancy shmancy restaurants but there are some places that serve delicious food and don’t exactly have a tipping policy. I can only think of Wokyo and Vapiano but that’s a good start, right… no tipping saves you some $$ that you can then spend on a nice dessert!

Order only the specialty

Sometimes people stay at a restaurant and see through appetizers, mains, sides, drinks and desserts. This is stupid because no restaurant specializes in everything. A better idea would be to order just the specialty and then move to another place (restaurant hopping if I may). That is usually cheaper, adds more variety and you cover more ground over the weekend. Win-win-win!

Take leftovers home

Goes without saying I am absolutely against leaving food behind. And not just because you paid for it. People need to be held accountable for every bite they order. When they take the food that they pay for for granted and leave it behind because they can, I want to take them to Somalia and tell them to do that again.

Vegetarian is always cheaper

I didn’t know that vegetarian options also exist until I started hanging out with a vegetarian. For meat-eaters vegetarian is usually a suboptimal option. But you’ll be surprised how good some of the vegetarian food is at the mainstream restaurants here. And not just that, it’s also much cheaper! So if you’re on a budget and you still want to hang out, then “sacrifice” the meat iykwim.

Use the right credit card/deals

I know for a fact that Emirates NBD and Visa have great deals when it comes to restaurants. Entertainer vouchers are also a sure shot way of eating good food at discounted prices at hundreds of restaurants in the UAE. If any of the people in your group have any of these, then EXPLOIT. I know broke people who make it through the month just because of these deals.

Oh and it’s not being a cheapskate, it’s being economical.

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I’m Siham - a 25-year-old Pakistani, born and raised in the UAE. Currently doing a boring desk job in Dubai - but my passion lies in reading, writing and motivating people.


  1. Zehra Nabeel Reply

    Thank God for because of my daughter I always carry water and I always need it!

    • Siham Reply

      Same! I’m done paying AED 8 for a small bottle of water. Lots of love for your little one <33

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