Kris and I like to go out to eat. We have figured out how to manage our time at a restaurant with our kids, but what about how much it costs?! Seriously, it could break the bank! Here are 7 ways that Kris and I save money while eating out with our kids:
1. Go out to dinner early. Like before 7. Happy hour specials can seriously save some green! We have a local, delicious, and yummy Italian restaurant that offers $5 bowls of pasta before 7:00. Kris adds a couple of meatballs for a buck a piece. When we combine that with the $4.95 kids meals, we have all eaten for less than $25 bucks! Plus, this restaurant has etch-a-sketches to play with while we wait. How awesome is that?!
2. Skip the Drinks: Have you seen how much a restaurant charges for drinks?! The prices are as high as $2.95 (and more) per fountain soda. That’s crazy! For four people that adds an extra $12 to your bill. Typically kids meals include a drink, but if they do not, opt for water (gasp!). Prep the kids ahead of time, and ask for a lemon or lime to flavor the water. (TIP: Servers will typically turn a blind eye to a sippy cup. If your kids really want something other than water, bring it in a cup- but see number 7 below).
3. Good heavens, if you are not using our affiliate partner Groupon, START NOW! Kris and I use these all. the. time. We frequently save more than 50% on our meals. We just purchased a Groupon that is 65% off everything- including alcohol and soft drinks! We have the Groupon app on our phones. If we are going out to dinner, we choose where we go based on what Groupons are available! It is soooo simple to use. Check it out by clicking right here (and sign up while you are there!):
The next two tips are from my husband Kris:
4. Make sure you and your kids eat throughout the day. If you arrive at the restaurant so hungry that you need two meals to fill you up, you are not saving money while eating out with kids! When you are going out for dinner, make sure everyone has lunch and a late afternoon snack. This also helps with patience while waiting for dinner to arrive!
5. Think about ordering family style. If pizza is an option, order it with a salad big enough for everyone. How about a couple of 1/2 prize appetizers and a lighter dinner that can be shared? Is it less expensive for the kids to share an adult size portion than it is to order a kids meal? Get out of the box! You know, the one that requires every person to have their own meal, ( don’t leave the restaurant hungry, though)!
6. For Pete’s sake, bring home the leftovers- even the bread! I see so many families leave behind the leftovers. Maybe their kids won’t eat them, but if yours will, pack up everything that is left and take it home- including the leftover rolls (you don’t have to take the stuff from every table, just yours ;)). “But that’s so cheap!” you’re thinking? Yeah, exactly. That’s the point! The food is literally going to be thrown away if you do not take it. I bet you will be really glad when lunch juts needs to be heated up the next day! Eating leftovers always makes me feel like we made the most of our money.
7. DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT save money by cheating your server. Ever. Gratuity is how servers earn their pay. They work hard to make your experience enjoyable. Kris and I tip on the amount our bill would have been had we not used Groupon or other discounts (including sharing a meal)- no less service was required, we just got a good deal. Our server deserves to be tipped appropriately. If we cannot afford a 20% tip on the full cost of the bill, we cannot afford to go out to eat that night. Besides, God knows if you don’t tip well!
Have you found ways to save while eating out with kids? Share them with us in the comments below- we want in!