How To Save Money Dining Out First Date
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How To Save Money While Dining Out On Your First Date

5 min read

Being the go-to Aunt Agony among my friends, I am privy to many of the scariest and some swoon-worthy first date anecdotes like:

  • “He is hot, but looks younger than me leh. Also, I can’t date guys with calves slimmer than mine.”
  •  “He is purrrfect for me, cute, sincere and generous, but I didn’t have my fill. The restaurant so atas till main dish also smaller serving than an appetiser. My god.” 
  • “He will offer to cut my meat for me when he sees me struggling or shelling the prawn slowly. This means that he takes note of details.” 

But most importantly, this scenario will inevitably be discussed by some of my friends:

  • “Why didn’t he (or she) offer to pay for the meal? The one who gets asked out shouldn’t have to pay.” 
  •  “At least pretend to pay lah. I can go dutch, no problem. Cannot act a bit meh?”
  • “Why did he not see I’d prefer to go Dutch? Does he not sense that I am an independent and resourceful lady?” 

Disclaimer: I am not trying to reinforce gender stereotypes.

I’m not here to settle who should be paying on a first date.

Trying Not To Offend Anyone
Source: knowyourmeme

But I get it. First dates can be expensive. Especially since you’re trying your best to impress.

While I sat there nodding sympathetically to their stories, a thought came to mind: since I’m a die-hard foodie and a self-proclaimed cheaponana (read: kiasu and very cheapskate), why not share my knowledge on how to save money while dining out?

If you’re wondering about my qualifications with regard to this topic, this is me:

Eating For Fun Meme
Source: cheezburger

Whether you’re cash strapped and need ideas to impress a first date, or just need to save money in general when dining out with a significant other. This little guide of mine should cater to (almost) every kind of palate and budget.

You’re welcome!

Read also: Best Mobile Apps That Every Singaporean Foodie Should Have


Some Things To Note Before Using My Awesome Guide

This guide will help you the most if:

  1. You’ve no idea where to bring your date after he or she replied, “Anything. You choose the place.”
  2. You are trying not to bust your monthly allowance on this date
  3. You’re determined to impress but want a good deal (read: not be left unsatisfied after paying an exorbitant amount for the meal)
  4. You’re tech-savvy, can click buttons, and bother to read terms and conditions

Are we on the same page?

Here we go!

Where To Go On Your First Date Based On Your Budget

First dates usually happen in some kind of restaurant or cafe right?

So here’re my picks for dinner places, for every budget:

Price PointMy Recommendations
<$10Casuarina (Halal & Vegetarian option)
Ikea (Halal option
Saizeriya
$10 to $20Astons Specialities
DOCO @ The Dining Hall
Dumpling Darlings
GRUB @ Bishan Park
Tamoya Udon @ Liang Court
$20 to $30The Lokal
PS Cafe
Saveur
Tanuki Raw
$30 to $50Blue Jasmine
Dancing Crab
The Halia
L'Entrecôte Bistro
$50 to infinity and beyondBedrock Bar & Grill
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Salt Grill & Sky Bar

Note: the above price range are based on dinner prices of mains on the respective establishment’s menus

If you’re wondering why Ikea, well… what better place to show that you’re a family-oriented kind of person than suggesting going to one of the most family-friendly places ever?

PSA: if you ever go to Saizeriya and order the squid ink pasta – like I did on a first date – it can really go both ways.

Either your date finds it adorkable because you’re being unabashedly you (P.S. there’s no way to eat squid ink pasta and still look glam) or you become an immediate turn-off.

Eating Spaghetti Messy
Source: giphy

So How Can I Save While Dining Out?

Here’s how you can save (whether it’s your first date or not) when you choose to go to any of my above-listed establishments!

1) Dining Membership Apps (Paid Subscription)

These dining membership apps are my go-to as they allow you to redeem 1-for-1 dining offers at my favourite restaurants.

If you’re lucky, there may be ongoing discounts or promo codes that should allow you to shave a couple of dollars off your subscription fee!

Mobile AppsCostHow To Use?
The ENTERTAINER$65 per year (U.P. $145)
Note: offer is for a limited time only
1) Download the app
2) Pay for a monthly or yearly subscription
3) Scroll and choose the most suitable restaurant
4) Head to the restaurant and redeem your 1-for-1 offer

Note: Each app has a maximum number of redemptions of 1-for-1 deals at each venue
Burpple BEYOND$69 per year

First Date Budget: $10 To $20

On my recommendation, a friend used Burpple Beyond for a date at Dumpling Darlings recently and saved 50% on the main course!

Darling Dumplings Noodles And Dumplings
Source: @dumpling.darlings | Instagram

For two mains and a drink, the bill came up to $20 (with GST).

If you go Dutch, each person will pay $10 (that’s ignoring the subscription cost of the programme, of course).

2) CashBack And Loyalty Reward Apps (Free-To-Use)

Mobile AppsCostHow To Use?
FavePayFree to use!1) Download the app
2) Scan the QR code when paying
3) Check if you are eligible for any promos
4) Key in the bill amount
5) Enjoy cashback or rewards
GrabPay
ShopBack GO
(on ShopBack)
Free to use!1) Download the ShopBack app
2) Link a credit or debit card (just once)
3) Pay as you normally would using your linked card
4) Earn cashback automatically
5) Cashback earned can be cashed out into your desired bank or PayPal account

First Date Budget: $20 to $30

For a dinner date at The Lokal recently, the bill for two mains was $50 (I know, I know. There’re cheaper options there but I chose to treat myself!).

Before paying, I checked my ShopBack app and noticed that I can get 5% cashback off my bill just by paying with the card I linked to ShopBack GO.

The Lokal Steak And Fries
Source: @thelokalsingapore | Instagram

Lucky for me, it was my first visit to The Lokal so I could enjoy a cashback ‘Boost to 20%‘.

If I decided to split the bill with my significant other, each person pays $50/2 = $25.

Even if I choose to return to The Lokal in the future, I would still enjoy 5% cashback with no strings attached!

3) Dining Deal Apps (Free-To-Use)

Mobile AppsCostHow To Use?
ChopeFree to use; just need to pay for the discounted vouchers1) Download the app
2) Join as a member of their loyalty programme to collect points
3) Scroll and choose the most suitable restaurant
4) Purchase your discounted vouchers
5) Head to the restaurant and use your voucher (via email or app)
Eatigo
Fave

First Date Budget: $30 To $50

For a dinner date at L’Entrecôte The Steak & Fries Bistro (Duxton) on a Sunday, I used the Chope app and bought a $100 cash voucher for $55 (that’s a saving of 45%).

L'Entrecôte The Steak & Fries Bistro
Source: Chope

The bill for two mains and a dessert was $105 (with GST).

If you go Dutch, each person pays $(55 + 5)/2 = $30 (as opposed to $52.50 without the Chope cash voucher)

Note: there are specific terms and conditions for use so pay attention when purchasing discounted vouchers via these apps

While these apps are free for use, it might not be the most cost-efficient in some cases.

A Case Study: Chope Vs Burpple

There are instances where some establishments, like L’Entrecôte The Steak & Fries Bistro, are on both Burpple and Chope.

  • Cost of Burpple Beyond subscription: $69 (gives me a maximum of four 1-for-1 redemptions at a venue)
  • Cost of Chope $100 cash voucher: $55 (can only use once)

Assuming I dine at L’Entrecôte four times in a year, with my partner, and we order the exact same thing every time…

  • Total cost using Burpple Beyond: $69 (assuming desserts are also 1-for-1)
  • Total cost using Chope $100 cash voucher: $(55 + 5) x 4 = $240!

The Burpple Beyond subscription doesn’t seem like such a bad idea now, doesn’t it?

But of course, this doesn’t always apply to every situation so make sure you do your math to see what makes sense!


With So Many Options Available, Which App Should I Use?

money icon

For Mid To High-Range Restaurants + Highest % Savings On The Total Amount

My choice:

  • Burpple Beyond
  • The ENTERTAINER

(+) Their cost-savings in the 1-for-1 deals might even allow you to ‘earn’ back your subscription fee in the next few redemptions. 

(-) A friend commented that he feels obliged to spend after buying the subscription plan. 

For Those Who Say NO To Subscription Plans Or Paid Apps (Since It’s Part Of The Cost)

My choice:

  • Chope
  • Eatigo
  • Fave

(+) Not fork out a single cent for subscription plans but still score your 1-for-1 deals? Win-win! 

(-) The best deals are offered during off-peak timings. As explained earlier, it might not be the most cost-efficient option especially if you dine out regularly.

For Those Who Do Not Wish To Be Restricted By The Selections On A Certain App

My choice:

  • FavePay
  • GrabPay
  • ShopBack GO

(+) No stress. Just visit whichever restaurant you like. If there are promos or cashback available, it’s a win.

(-) Might not save you the most money. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you learnt about an amazing offer on The ENTERTAINER… after the date is over.

Pro Tips To Maximise Your Savings

Always check with the staff which credit or debit cards are preferred. You never know if you can score unexpected treats, more savings, or loyalty rewards.

Also, DON’T BE LAZY.

Before you get up to pay, just Google the restaurant’s name along with any of the apps or programmes I mentioned to check if there’re any valid promotions which you can enjoy.

SG Kiasu Foodies Telegram Screenshot
Source: SG Kiasu Foodies | Telegram

And if you’re on Telegram, you can also join groups like SG Kiasu Foodies because you just might find discounts or promos at a dining establishment you’re planning to visit!

Overall, the money saved might even give you more budget for dessert. And that means more time together with your date.

Think About It
Source: tenor

Last Words Before You Go On Your First Date

Dating Couple

With my restaurant recommendations and tips, you’ve effectively:

  • Saved yourself from a headache as you’ve a list of first-date places to impress your date (that won’t break the bank)
  • Saved time (from having to compare between the different apps and programmes yourself)
  • Saved money

However, there are a few things that you should NEVER SAVE:

  • The energy that you bring to the table and the attention you shower your date. Everyone wants to feel engaged, especially on the first date. Another point to note? Choose a place that you can have a proper conversation. So, a noisy bar is probably not the best choice.
  • Words to express who you are. Share your beliefs (don’t be too extreme since it’s the first date after all) and your goals in life. (Wo)men with ambition are sexy.
  • Sincerity. Just be yourself. Your date decided to go out with you for a reason. So don’t feel like you need to be someone else.

All the best!


Seedly Guest Contributor: Sally aka “Cheaponana Chubs”

Got any tips on how you can save or maximise your dollar? Feel free to discuss them with the Seedly Community here.

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