Thursday, 8 January 2015


It looks like I decided to skip the entire 2014 and jump straight to 2015!

I went to some fantastic places last year, whether it be locally, in other states in Australia or even overseas - it was a great year of eating and treating ourselves to incredible food. Of course every time I ate out I kicked myself for not blogging the meal I was about to eat, but it was a nice long break to have before getting back into things again this year! 

I'm sure it's obvious that this is part of my new years resolution, to start blogging again... but I truly want to get back into it, at least for the sake of writing. 

To start things off I'd like to share some of my eating-out-on-a-budget suggestions:

I think we all remember in primary school where we would get a little pamphlet to take home, asking if anyone in our family wanted to purchase the very heavy gold book. Little did I know that I'd be buying the giant thing as an adult (and constantly storing vouchers in my wallet) for 4 years in a row now.

Every year around May, fundraisers, companies and schools start bringing out the new Entertainment Book, valid for the next 12 months (June-July). The book costs $60, but trust me, it's very much worth it. 

Every region in Australia and New Zealand has its own book, mine being Sydney & Sydney North. Usually Sydney is separated from Sydney North but as the year (2014) was its 20th Anniversary, they decided combine the two, resulting in a 5kg brick. 

The book is divided into various categories such as dining, shopping, local services etc.
Within dining, there are 5 sections: Fine Dining (hatted restaurants, degustations, very fancy food), Contemporary Dining (meals for special occasions, romantic dates, some white tablecloths), Cafe and Bistro Dining (nice respectable places for a meal out), Casual and Bistro Dining (easy and affordable, convenient lunches), and Informal and Takeaway (fast food joints and takeaway joints). 

There are two types of offers: BOGOF and 25% off. 
BOGOF: Buy-one-get-one-free, either for a main meal (up to a certain amount) or an item (e.g. at Subway, if you buy one foot-long sub, you get another one free). This is of course the better value of the two offers when you're dining with 2 people. 
25% off: Self explanatory, except it's only up to a certain amount of your total bill, each establishment is different. 

The beauty of these offers is that you can use one voucher between 2 people, so if you're going out for dinner with two others and they also have the voucher, when the bill arrives you can use both vouchers! Bargain!  

The Book has allowed us to try out various restaurants all over Sydney. Unfortunately over the years we've noticed they've taken off exceptional restaurants off the book or limiting them to just 25% off. There's not much we can do about that and I'd still buy it again this year because I believe you get your money's worth in just a couple of meals! You can always have a look on their website for the restaurant list before you purchase to see if you're enticed at all. 

The catch: there are certain days of the year that the offers are not applicable like Mother's Day, don't forget to read the fine print.

I don't think Urbanspoon needs any introduction but if you have no clue, it's a website where users can post reviews, photos etc of restaurants, cafes they've been to.
By signing up to Urbanspoon, every Tuesday you will receive an email with the 'Urbanspoon Specials' of the week, notifying you of the two selected restaurants you can receive 50% off your food bill.

Need I say anymore? Get on the Urbanspoon train!
Not every restaurant catches my eye but when they do, it's exceptional value! The best restaurant I went to that offered 50% off the food bill deal last year would definitely be The Public Dining Room - incredible food and an amazing view, though I do admit we went a little crazy but it was good fun! 

It's always handy to be on the look out because you never know what might show up!

For those who don't know Dimmi, it's a restaurant reservation website that allows you to make bookings online. This is probably most certainly just me but I feel very uncomfortable and awkward when I call up a restaurant to make a reservation - I get very skirmish and can't articulate myself. Then things go downhill when the person on the other line doesn't catch my name so I have to spell it out and it's just a mess (these days I just give them my partner's name, it seems like it's just easier that way). So hallelujah for online reservations!

Tangent finished..

If you sign up with Dimmi, you receive the same notifications as what you get with Urbanspoon. I like signing up to both because I like reading the restaurant reviews straight away so it's convenient in that aspect. And if you want to be precise, I think I receive the Urbanspoon email sooner than Dimmi...

But the other thing that Dimmi does offer is a $50 meal voucher when you participate in their point system.
For every restaurant reservation you make or review that you write about that dining experience, you receive 1,000 points. Once you've accumulated 8,000 points you are able to choose from a solid list of restaurants for you can dine at and you will receive $50 voucher towards that meal.

I am yet to use my reward but I should choose somewhere soon as it expires after 12 months. Keep you posted on how that goes!

So those are my 3 go-tos for a good deal when I struggle to find somewhere to eat. I hope they help you find new places to visit and inspire you to explore other suburbs and cuisines.

Here's to 2015! To a blog post every week! And to lots of delicious food to come in the new year!

*Disclaimer: None of these organisations are sponsors of this blog post. These are my own strategies and ideas to enjoy a meal out without having to splurge too much whilst trying out new places.

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