How to Eat At Olive Garden For Cheap (or Free)

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Going out to eat is not becoming less expensive; the opposite is happening, and people like yourself are finding that dining out is costing them more and more. But going to a restaurant is certainly something that we do not wish to have to give up, so what we need to do is find ways that we can minimize the cost. So how does one manage to eat at Olive Garden for either cheap or free?


Key Takeaways

  • Sign up for as many royalty programs and coupon/gift card deals as possible, as these will undoubtedly come in handy when you are short on cash and yet still want to be able to go out and enjoy a good night out.
  • Keep an eye on the Olive Garden’s newsletters and running specials, as these are often fleeting, and you do not want to miss out on the opportunity to take your family out for a great lunch or dinner at your favorite Olive Garden.
  • There are few viable ways to eat at Olive Garden or any other place for free so take advantage of the small things like the wine tastings or the odd chance that you will be permitted to take your own wine and thus save on the higher markup placed on liquor.
  • Some specials and outstanding deals only run at particular Olive Gardens, so if you hear about one, always be sure to contact your preferred restaurant and enquire about whether they have it on offer.

Ways One Can Eat At Olive Garden For Cheap Or Even Free

Your budget might be tight, but you may still want to take your partner out for a nice meal or treat the family. In that case, you have to become creative and thankfully, what you will find in this post are some great ideas regarding how you can save money and yet still have an enjoyable time out.

It is possible to go out and eat at Olive Garden for a reasonable price, allowing you to relax and not be too concerned about the numbers that will reflect on the check at the end.

Some of these ideas are just nice additions to have at the back of your mind when you are out at Olive Garden, and others will help you cut the cost and maximize what you get for your money.

1. Get An Appetizer Or Dessert For Free

One way to save when you go out to eat is to be frugal and skip all the extras, such as appetizers and desserts. However, this can lead to a dull and unfulfilling evening out, and you want to be able to enjoy your time at Olive Garden fully. Therefore, to get around this, you can sign up for the Olive Garden eClub.


Once you have signed up and are able to receive their newsletter, you will constantly be on top of which deals will be available to you, and one such example is the ability to receive coupons. These coupons will allow you to be eligible for things such as complimentary appetizers and desserts (for the value of up to $10) when you purchase two adult entrées.

2. Keep An Eye On Their Specials

Almost all companies and businesses, including restaurants such as Olive Garden, will have specials from time to time. You will have to keep tabs on when these come around so that you do not miss out on specials, which may even include your favorite dishes. It is a good idea to be aware of when these are available, so keep an eye out for their specials.

3. Contact Your Nearest Olive Garden About Dinner Duos

Olive Garden has run a “happy hour” deal over the years, and you will need to contact your desired Olive Garden to find out whether they are currently running the deal, but the Dinner Duo is a fantastic way to eat for cheap at Olive Garden.

The special runs from Monday to Thursday and is an early dinner special that is only available between 03:00 PM – 05:00 PM. You will need to take advantage of this small window of opportunity and indulge in what includes an appetizer of either soup or salad, and with these comes freshly baked breadsticks – the starters are unlimited, meaning you can eat as much as you like.

After that, you will be allowed to choose from over 50 combinations of dishes that you know and love. The dishes range from spaghetti with meat sauce, eggplant parmigiana, fettuccine alfredo, creamy mushroom ravioli, lasagna Classico, and many more. You get the appetizers and two main dishes for as little as $8.99.

4. Try To Get The $1 Kids’ Meal Special

This special may not always apply, so you will need to contact your local Olive Garden in advance to see if they are running this special. Suppose they are the $1 kids’ entrées must be bought alongside an adult meal. This deal is fantastic as it means that although you will need to pay for your meal, you can pay nearly nothing for your child to eat.


We must note that this promotion is not all year round and will come and go; therefore, you need to be aware of the specials your preferred Olive Garden is running. Sometimes these specials extend into the buy one get one free range, where you get one free entrée with any other you purchase.

5. Look On Groupon For Coupons And Gift Card Deals

Another way to save a dollar here and there is to use websites such as Groupon, which will have coupons and great deals on gift cards for the likes of Olive Garden. Thus, you should check in regularly to see what is on offer (they usually change each month) and then take advantage of their current offers.

6. Get Free Coupons For Olive Garden With Swagbucks

Another great online platform to get free coupons and cashback is to sign up and use Swagbucks to help you do so. There are countless ways to earn points on Swagbucks, from taking surveys to shopping online and even watching videos. So, sign yourself up and begin earning Swagbucks SB points.

Your Swagbucks SB points will enable you to gain free gift cards to places such as Olive Garden. And to give you a rough example, approximately 500 SB points will translate into a $5 Olive Garden gift card that you can put toward paying the bill at the end. Theoretically, if you can accumulate enough SB points, you can convert that into even more significant discounts at Olive Garden.

7. Taste The Wines For Free At Olive Garden

Being an “Italian” restaurant, you may have noticed that Olive Garden has a rather extensive wine list to choose from, and you can ask your server to permit you to do a wine tasting. There is no charge for this, and the samples are typically about 1 ounce, so you will not be getting a full glass, but if you are polite and friendly, you may get to taste a few variations of wine.

Interestingly at some Olive Gardens, you are permitted to take your own wine along; some may charge a corkage fee, but others do not. This means that you can buy a relatively inexpensive wine and enjoy it with your meal without worrying about forking out too much on liquor. Be sure to contact and find out from your local Olive Garden beforehand, though.

8. Ask For Your Fan Favorite Dish

Olive Garden does not always have a consistent menu; it fluctuates and changes with the seasons, and therefore you may arrive at the restaurant only to find that your favorite dish is not on the menu. At times your favorite may be an economically viable option that you know and love and were banking on ordering.


There is no need to stress, though, the kitchen may well be stocked with the ingredients needed to make your special dish, and if you ask nicely, the chefs will most likely be accommodating and happy to help you out and prepare your requested meal.

9. If You Are Ordering To Go, Consider A Kid’s Meal

This may not be the same for all Olive Garden restaurants. Still, there are stories where people found at certain Olive Garden restaurants that the kid’s portion was more than sufficient and simultaneously more economical than buying a full-sized adult entrée portion. This may not apply everywhere, and you must be familiar with the menu, but this could reduce the cost.

Therefore, if you frequent an Olive Garden and notice that the portion of your child’s meal would be sufficient for you, too, consider taking this route. You could also order the kids’ meal and then add a side of something to supplement the meal and make it more filling. Ultimately, it is a big win as you and your wallet will be satisfied.

10. Be Sure To Ask For The Extras

One that comes to mind is that if you are a fan of zeppole, then you will be aware that these cream-filled, deep-fried Italian pastries will generally be served with a side of chocolate dipping sauce. You might not be aware that you can ask your server whether additional options exist, such as a tantalizing raspberry sauce.

Another little hack is to be polite to your server, and when asking for the bill, see if they would not mind bringing you a few extra Andes mints along with your check. They will often be more than willing, especially if they know you have eaten something with a strong garlic base or similarly strong. These two do not equate to dining for cheap or free, but they are nice little add-ons to the night.

11. Go To Olive Garden On Your Birthday For A Free Dessert

We all love getting free stuff, and one of the perks of the eClub is that on your birthday, you are eligible for a dessert on the house. The dessert price typically maxes out at about $8.99, which is not a sneeze. So be sure to keep this at the back of your mind when considering where to celebrate your next birthday.

When you are thinking of capitalizing on this offer from Olive Garden, do not forget to think about the other ones on this list to help you further decrease the final cost on that check. Think about using coupons and the Dinner Duo options. If you are taking your family, call beforehand to find out if the kids can eat for $1 at your favorite Italian restaurant.

12. Ask Your Server To Prep Half Your Meal To Go

If you are someone with a small appetite, but you have a particular liking for one of Olive Garden’s dishes, but the portion size is simply too big to eat in one sitting, do not force yourself to shovel down the meal. Instead, politely ask your server if they would not mind boxing half of the meal for you to go. That way, you do not overeat and have a meal for later on.

We have shared some tips and tricks to help you reduce the price of the check or ways of “cheating” the system to get a little bit more bang for your buck. You will find that you need to spend something, but how much is up to you and how well you implement the knowledge we have provided you with. Now to end off, we have included some related questions.


How Many Breadsticks Will Olive Garden Give With To Go Orders?

Thankfully if you order a meal to go from Olive Garden, you will still be eligible to get breadsticks, which is usually two breadsticks per entrée that you order. However, if you want more, you can order an extra side of breadsticks, and you will get 6 more.

Does Olive Garden Still Run Its Unlimited Soup, Salad, And Breadsticks?

This one will depend on the specific Olive Garden you go to, as some will still run this deal, whereas others find that it is not economically viable anymore to offer. However, if you are hoping for limitless appetizers, you will pay for that (and the price fluctuates depending on the time), and in most cases, it is tied to the fact that you will be required to order an entrée in addition.

Does Olive Garden Permit You To Share An Entrée?

Some restaurants are fickle and are pretty pedantic about each adult ordering their own entrée. Still, at Olive Garden, you are most usually allowed to share an entrée, which makes complete sense, especially when on a tight budget or you are two people with small appetites and do not feel you will manage to finish a complete meal on your own.

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