You don’t always have to go broke to afford the Michelin-star fine dining experience.
If you’re a hardcore foodie, then you value every morsel of food that goes into your mouth. But good food in Singapore can be expensive, especially if you’re planning a night out at any Michelin star restaurants in Singapore. With a bit of clever budgeting however, you don’t always have to break the bank to be able to afford a Michelin-star meal.
Building a foodie budget
Here’s a budget checklist for foodies that can make fine dining in Singapore a regular experience.
- Get the right dining credit card
- Use a values-based budget
- Maximise rebates and discounts
- Team up with other foodies
- Plan off-peak visits for restaurants abroad
- Manage alcohol costs
- As a last resort, plan for lunches
1. Get the right dining card
In life and in dining, one should always strive to reach for the stars. Of course, for the latter, a Michelin-Star meal could pinch a little. To soften the blow, choose the right dining credit card to pay your meal with. Many dining credit cards provide cash back, dining deals and rewards to help offset the cost, that in turn helps you plan for your next night out.
Offers 12% cash back for weekend dining for new UOB Principal Cardmembers for the first three months from card-approval date, and 8% cash back on weekend dining thereafter.
Gives you 3.2 miles per dollar for your dining and travel expenses at home or abroad with minimum spending of S$300. A meal at a Michelin Star restaurant in Singapore, such as Les Amis, will easily meet that criterion, giving you at least 960 miles.
Earn up to 5X rewards points for every S$1 spent on dining transactions. Every 5,000 points gets you a S$20 Crystal Jade voucher.
2. Use a values-based budget
A values-based budget ensures you spend on what’s important to you, while cutting down on frivolous spending that’s not important to you. It may seem counterintuitive to you, but many people spend on things they don’t actually want.
For example, trying out a new eatery that costs S$125/per head may be reasonable to a foodie – but that same person might, over the course of the month, spend S$125 on a handphone cover that’s used for a week, a movie she only watched because of friends, a bag she could frankly do without. You get the idea. If you track your spending over a month or three, you’ll realise this isn’t uncommon. Many of us spend on things we can do without, to the detriment of what we truly value or like.
A values-based budget does away with all this, by planning activity and lifestyle costs. For example, say the estimated cost of each meal is S$125. You would plan for this to be around 30 per cent higher (S$162.50). If you intend four such meals a year (S$650), you could set aside around S$55 to S$60 per month under a monthly “dining” budget or “account”. Set this amount aside the moment you get your pay check, so it’s not wasted on something else.
3. Maximise rebates and discounts
The best Michelin-star restaurants in Singapore seldom give out rebates and discounts (they don’t need to because there’s a long queue to get into them). But, you can try to gain benefits through booking apps and modes of payment. For example, the Chope app gives you chope-dollars, which can be exchanged for discounts. You can also pay through credit cards that give you cashback, air miles, or reward points. Check out SingSaver, to find a credit card online that works with the restaurant you’re visiting. However, always remember to pay back the credit card in full, before the next billing cycle.
4. Team up with other foodies
A good way to save money, and still sample a wide range of food, is to visit fine dining restaurants with other foodies. This way, you can order a range of recommended dishes and split the cost.
Make sure you’re going with another gourmand however – people who aren’t foodies tend to complain forever about pricey meals (there’s limited appreciation for culinary art sometimes).
5. Plan off-peak visits for Michelin star restaurants abroad
If you’re planning to try a gourmet restaurant abroad, check out off-peak periods. This is often the middle of the year, around May to July (but it differs between countries).
First, the restaurant you’re dying to try is likely to be less crowded and available to accept reservations at short notice. Second, prices of flight tickets and hotel rooms tend to be cheaper during off-peak periods. While some places are always crowded with tourists (e.g. Paris or New York), you can still minimise the brunt by travelling off-peak.
6. Manage alcohol costs
The simplest way to make fine dining affordable is to avoid alcohol. Either bring your own wine (if corkage charges are reasonable), or head somewhere else for post-meal drinks. Stick to non-alcoholic beverages in the restaurant. Also, you’re not likely to appreciate the food if you’ve had too much to drink.
7. As a last resort, plan for lunches
A more affordable way to experience a really good restaurant is to go for lunch, not dinner. Prices tend to be lower because, during lunch hour, restaurants often compete for a share of the lucrative office crowd. This results in set meals that are considerably cheaper. Note, however, that the full menu range may not be served during lunch and the head chef may only turn up for dinner service.
By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she’s having croissant, she thinks in French. “31 Rue Cambon” is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.