Step One: Just order water. When you estimate the cost of your meal, it’s easy to leave out the cost of drinks, even if it’s just a soda. However, that soda can add up. If the average cost of a soda at a restaurant is 2.50, a family of four can take 10 off the check just by ordering water.
Step Two: Go to the restaurant’s website and see if they offer any coupons or discounts or if they have a happy hour. For example, Buffalo Wild Wings offers half off appetizers during part of the day. It’s also helpful to call your local restaurant if it’s a chain because sometimes one chain might offer something another chain won’t.
Step Three: Find restaurants where children eat free. For example, for every adult entree you buy at Denny’s, you can get up to two kids entrees free on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 4-10pm.
Step Four: Go online and see the restaurant’s menu and pricing before you go so you have a good idea of how much you spend. If the restaurant’s online menu doesn’t show their prices, try going on Allmenus.com.
Step Five: If you’re a student or have a AAA card, ask your server if they have discounts for those. For example, if you’re a high school student, Chipotle will give you a free drink when you show them your student ID.
Step Six: Go online and see if the restaurant has a rewards program which is free to join. Usually, they’ll mail you a card and you earn points whenever you eat there. TGI Friday’s has a rewards program called Give Me More Stripes and gives you a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert just for signing up.
Step Seven: Go to restaurant.com and search your area for restaurants you frequent. Often, you can get a $20 gift certificate for $15, sometimes even less.