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5 Easy Ways to Save Money at Restaurants

Citation: © [Syda Productions]/Adobe Stock 

Though we all understand the many benefits of a home cooked meal, sometimes you just want to get out of the house and let someone else do the cooking. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re not careful, the cost of eating out can really begin to pile up. Here are some ways to save money at restaurants that will lighten the financial load of a night out!

  1. Buy gift cards at a discounted price.

You can buy gift card bundles at larger retail stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club, which end up making them 25% off the market value of the card. You can also find other online purveyors of such cards such as or

  1. Choose restaurants that provide free appetizers.

Why not get that basket of chips and salsa for free? There are plenty of restaurants that offer starters free of charge—most commonly chips and salsa at Mexican restaurants or even the famous cheddar bay biscuits at Red Lobster. Though you pay a base rate of $6.99 for Olive Garden’s breadsticks and salad, you’re able to eat as much as you want, making it significantly cheaper than buying 2 or 3 appetizers off their menu. Pick restaurants that follow this practice and you’re sure to save money!

  1. Drink water.

As enticing as a margarita would be with dinner, often restaurants charge upwards of $10 for alcoholic beverages. That’s a huge chunk of money for something that really isn’t all that necessary at dinner. If you’re especially tight on money, definitely skip the mixed drinks and just stick with water.

  1. Stay alert to special restaurants deals.

Chain restaurants such as Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, and others are known for their great food deals. Applebee’s 2 for $20 deals allows you to get two entrees and one appetizer for only $20. Buffalo Wild Wing’s is an incredibly popular destination for wing lovers, and on Tuesdays, you get half off wings. It doesn’t get much better than that!

  1. Pile your plate at a buffet.

If you’re not looking to have a server wait on you, you’ll save money at the end of the night by not having to pay a tip. Even though some people give them a bad rap, buffets are an economical way to eat loads of food at a low cost. If you do your research, you can find delicious and cheap buffet food locally.