Noticed you’re paying more to eat at restaurants? Lots of people are discovering that eating out is taking a bigger bite from their wallet than ever. The good news? Restaurants want to help lower your bill so you’ll keep coming back! Learn how to save money while dining out with these five easy tips.
Pay Less With a Subscription
A growing trend among restaurants? Subscriptions that entitle you to a large amount of beverages or food for a flat monthly fee. For example, Panera Bread offers unlimited fill-ups of 26 beverages (including coffee, tea, lemonade, and fountain drinks) for just $10.99 a month. Pret Coffee offers a $19.99 monthly subscription that gives you up to five daily coffees and teas. To find out if your favorite restaurants offer subscriptions, visit their websites or ask the manager.
Sign up for restaurant loyalty programs to learn about limited time subscription promotions. For instance, Taco Bell recently allowed diners to pay just $10 to get one free taco of their choice per day for 30 days. Diners with subscriptions tend to be more loyal to the restaurants who offer them, so expect to see more at eateries near you!
Tip: August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. This means you’ll be able to snap up deals at ice cream shops around the country. For current offers, simply give your favorite spot a call!
Look Out For Freebies
Restaurants worry that soaring prices will keep diners away, so they’re giving out free food to entice you to keep coming back. For instance, Burger King recently gave away a free order of french fries with any purchase every week for up to eight months when folks signed up for their Royalty Perks loyalty program. And Hardee’s gave away one sandwich with any purchase over $1 to diners who signed up for their MyRewards program.
Also great: Some restaurants are helping customers deal with soaring gas prices since they know it costs more to drive to their eatery. One example: The Bojangles restaurant chain recently included a $10 gas gift card with the purchase of a family meal. To find free offers, visit Chew Boom and Local Saver.
Show Up At These Times
While most menu prices have recently risen, many restaurants actually lower their prices on certain days or during certain hours, helping save you up to 50 percent. For example, BJ’s Brewhouse offers half off large deep dish or tavern-cut pizza on Mondays. And IHOP offers a daily “IHOPPY Hour” from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., which is when you can get entrées starting at just $6. To find times when you can snap up menu discounts, visit Eat Drink Deals, then search for the day of the week you’d like to eat or the restaurant you want to visit.
Take Advantage of Take-Out
Online and take-out orders save restaurants money since it means they don’t need as many staff members to serve you or have to pay for gas to deliver your food. As a result, many eateries discount your bill when you use their website or app to place your order and travel to pick up your food.
For example, in one promotion, Domino’s gave customers a coupon code for $3 when they ordered online and picked up their meals. And O’Charley’s offered $5 off for a curbside pickup order of $20 or more. To find more discounts, visit Retail Me Not.
Flexible about meal times? Sign up to receive newsletters or text messages from your favorite dine-in establishments. Not only will you hear about their latest deals, but now a growing number of restaurants are using a new service called “Let Us Nudge” to send out coupons via text or email that give you a discount on your meal if you head there right away. This gives restaurants the ability to fill empty tables during slow times, while allowing you to enjoy your favorite foods for less!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.