When you are trying to keep your family on a food budget, eating out can be one of those treats that rarely happens. While it may sometimes seem cheaper to eat out than to cook at home, this is rarely the case. You can, however, save money dining out if you follow some of the tips below.
Saving Money While Dining Out With Children
Dine at child friendly restaurants that offer “kids eat free” days or times. Generally speaking, most restaurants that run these sort of specials do it on weeknights or days and offer up to 2 free meals from the kid’s menu for each paying adult who buys a full sized entrée. If you are alone with 2 kids, this could mean you only have to pay for drinks and your meal and this could cost you less than $10 depending on where you eat.
Carefully examine the kid’s meal. Are the meals exceptionally small for the children you are feeding? You may be better off buying a full sized entrée and splitting it between two kids. Getting them to agree on which one may be a challenge, but often the kid’s meals are just smaller portions of the adult ones at more than half the cost.
Don’t buy meals for children under 2 or 3 if they are not really great eaters. You would be better off buying a large entrée and sharing some of your with them.
Look at the “sides” portion of the menu. Often kid friendly options are things such as mac n cheese, French fries or veggies and dip and can be bought for a couple dollars rather than paying for a full meal.
Ask if the establishment offers special birthday meals for children. Many chain restaurants offer free birthday meals on the child’s birthday or even as far as the entire month their birthday is in.
Get frequent diner cards if you can. Often, this will mean you can almost dine for free (other than a tip) after so many times eating at the restaurant.
Follow your favorite places to dine at on social media such as Facebook, twitter, or Instagram. You will be able to see when they run fan-only specials for short time periods such as just that day or afternoon.
Sign up for newsletters. Some establishments send you a free meal just for signing up and offer specials that are printable coupons for special events, holidays or even just because. You may also be able to get free meals for birthdays and anniversaries.
Ask if you can order from senior menu for your older kids. Some restaurants will happily accommodate and others won’t but it is certainly worth asking about.
Skip soda or drinks and stick with water. Drinks on a menu are majorly inflated and even though there are free refills at most places, they are still over-priced. If you have very little ones who are still drinking from sippy cups, bring drinks for them. Most restaurants won’t mind this for their smallest patrons.
Buy an appetizer for the kids to share as their meal and request that it is brought out with the rest of the food. Elementary age children can split a large appetizer sampler that probably costs less than $8-$10.
Hit up buffets where the price of children’s meals is based on their age. Generally speaking, most kids under age 3 can eat for free and kids under 10-12 eat for less than 5 or 6 dollars.