How to save money on food in the UAE
The Dubai institution that is brunch is a great way to sample the menu at a reasonable price.
Right after the festive season, when money has been spent on gifts and eating out, it's time to think about budgets. So, here are few smart, money-saving ideas for when you fancy eating out or cooking at home.
Catch up coffees can really dent your wallet, but why pay when you can drink all the coffee you want and eat some New Orleans-style beignets for free from 12pm to 6pm at the very cool Nolas in JLT? Every Tuesday for the ladies.
Want to go out for a mid-week dinner with the guys as well? Try Bystro in Al Manara and get 50 per cent off on your entire food bill. This deal is valid from Monday to Thursday between 5pm and 9pm - and we all know eating early is good for us!
Looking for a casual place that serves better-than-average Middle Eastern food? Try contemporary café Allo Beirut on Hessa Street! This modern, Lebanese eatery is authentic, reasonably-priced, quick and well worth a try.
If you need to go somewhere a bit fancier, but want good portions for those with hearty appetites, then try the lunch deal at Toko where, for Dh98, you get dim sums, soup, starters, main course and puddings! You can also order anything you like again from the menu at no extra cost!
Now, when it comes to grocery shopping, it always pays to ask for local produce. Keep in mind that the products that are on the lower shelves (not at eye level) are cheaper, but just as good! Some supermarkets will give smaller portions, like quarter a melon. Just buy what you need.
Get in to sprouting your own pulses. Dried lentils in packets are cheap, and sprouting is easy and nutritious.
Go to supermarkets like Al Adil and explore a variety of freshly-milled, organic flour on offer at a fraction of the price of other supermarkets. You can experiment with smaller quantities too.
If you want to have a good sit-down dinner, but are too tired to cook, simply invest in a set of steel thalis and order the set Indian vegetarian thali meal from Puranmal and serve it like a pro. At just Dh21 per meal, you can invite many friends! Just add music and drinks. More food for less money.
(Monica Kapila is a travel journalist and the blogger behind www.doindubai.com. Follow her for an honest take on Dubai life @doindubai on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.)
One of the things I love most about Dubai is the deliciously diverse range of restaurants and cuisines we have access to. there isn't a craving that can't be satisfied here!
That being said, eating out can be an expensive pastime, especially if you have a penchant for high-end restaurants. Thankfully, there are many ways to stretch your dirham, whilst continuing to enjoy stellar dining experiences.
One of the best ways to experience the signature dishes a restaurant has to offer, at a lower price, is by availing their business lunch deal. Business lunches can be found in abundance in the city, with many available in DIFC to accommodate the corporate crowd. Zuma, Roberto's, BB Social, Gaucho and Mina Brasserie all offer great deals.
Alternatively, the Dubai institution that is brunch is a great way to sample the menu at a reasonable price. In terms of value for money, Ruya at Grosvenor House is one of my favourites as the food selection and restaurant setting are incredible. Bistro Des Arts is a popular spot as it offers a classic Parisian brunch for only Dh99.
A guaranteed way to save money is by downloading The Entertainer app. It's quite expensive to purchase at first, but you can make this back on just a few redemptions. Another app that I often use is Isme by Jumeirah, a free-to-download app with quite a few deals and discounts, available across the Jumeirah Restaurant Group.
Lastly, and perhaps the easiest way to save money, is by eating in an area that has a high volume of good value restaurants. I eat often in JLT for this reason and I'm a big fan of Wokyo and Vietnamese Foodies, where you can enjoy a delicious, filling meal for Dh50.
Satwa and Deira are also home to no-frills restaurants that have stood the test of time as people appreciate good food that doesn't cost the earth. Ravi's remains a firm favourite of UAE residents and tourists alike with a good meal available for less than Dh30. Wander the bustling streets and you can discover a plethora of no-nonsense shawarma shops and Asian canteens that are affordable and authentic.
(Laura Rooney is a PR professional and a Dubai-based foodie. Keep up with her on Instagram @hungrygirldubai)