Eat at independent locally-owned restaurants instead!
article in Primer Magazine outlines all the reasons why chain restaurants are bad, and offers several suggestions for how to avoid the habit.
I literally do not understand why Applebee's is America's most popular restaurant. Seriously, Applebee's is #1, top of the charts with a bullet. I have been there twice in the last five years. Both times the food was mediocre, too salty, overpriced, and the restaurant was far noisier than it had any right to be, given the number of customers.
I have to start by saying that I am not a food snob. I'm also not the kind of food snob who says things like "I'm not a food snob, I enjoy a Big Mac every once in a while," but is actually just being patronizing. That statement is the foodie equivalent of saying "I have several black friends" or "my cousin is gay."
Honest: I'm not a food snob. Last night I stocked up on boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese because they were on sale, and 10 boxes will hold me about 3 months. And I don't have kids, mind you. That's just me: a grown adult who voluntarily eats Kraft Mac & Cheese on a semi-regular basis.
Simply put: Stop going to chain restaurants because it's a bad value. There are two ways you can go, instead:
1. Learn to cook the things you buy at chain restaurants.
I guarantee you, the dishes you always order there are things you can cook a close approximation of at home. It will cost far less, taste far better, and be a lot healthier for you.
I recently buckled down and learned how to cook my own steak. Steak was always something I ordered at restaurants, because the idea of cooking steak intimidated me. For decades I paid a 2,000% mark-up, and for what?
2. Find locally-owned independent restaurants instead.
For one thing, your money will be supporting local business, which in turn supports your local economy to a surprising extent. Out of every dollar spent at a chain restaurant, only 43 cents stays in your community. But out of every dollar spent at an independent locally-owned business, 68 cents stays home.
For another thing, the food will be so much better! It will literally ruin you for chain restaurants like Olive Garden and Applebee's.
Sure it can seem like a gamble to try an independent restaurant, particularly if you're used to the "much of a sameness" nature of chain restaurants. But trust me, it's worth it!