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Eating out can be expensive for only 2 people eating, add in your children and the experience can become an expensive and chaotic experience. Use these 10 tips to make eating out better for your family.
When my husband and I went out pre-kids, we’d go out every week on a date…now we go out maybe once or twice a month to a sit down restaurant with our kids because it gets expensive!
We’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way to make it more enjoyable and not become a chaotic mess! (We had one of those experiences where we had to ask our waitress for our food to go because our son did not want to be there!)
It’s nice to go out with your family for a sit down dinner at a restaurant every once and a while, but it gets expensive!
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Here are 10 tips and tricks to make eating out cheaper and easier with your family!
1. Talk to your kids about the behavior you expect and what they should expect at a restaurant.
This is mainly for younger kids who don’t have the experience at a sit-down restaurant.
Giving your child quick instructions about what you expect from them will give them a reminder of the behavior you are expecting. Explain why each of these behaviors are important in a restaurant, then they are more likely to comply because it “makes sense”.
- Quiet voices because other people are having dinner and we all need to respect each other since everyone is having their own dinner.
- Stay on your bottom because the tables are close together, if you fall, you could fall onto another table and hurt yourself.
- No running around because a lot of people are walking around with hot stuff and you don’t want to accidentally run into someone and make it fall.
2. Order your kids’ food before your food.
We always order the kids’ food with our drink order so the waitress can get it in right away and the kids have less time to wait for their food!
Also, when the food comes before yours, you can have time to cut/dice/organize however you need to with their food so your child can be enjoying their meal by the time you get yours, and you can still eat yours while it’s still warm without needing to cut up your child’s first!
3. If your children are really young, let them share an entree!
The kids’ size entrees are still huge! Have your children share a meal instead of ordering an entree for each child.
Of course, if your child will eat it all, this doesn’t work, but with small kids who won’t eat an entire entree on their own, this is a great way to save an extra $5+ on your bill!
4. Ask for an extra bowl of fruit or side from the kids menu, you’ll likely get it for free.
Since we only order one kids meal, it usually only comes with 1 side. We always ask for an extra side for our daughter to eat and have always had it given to us free of charge!
5. Check to see when kids eat free (Usually Tuesdays)
Try to eat out on the kids eat free nights! It saves you extra money and the restaurant likely won’t be as busy as a Friday or Saturday night.
6. Bring snacks!
Some people would say you shouldn’t bring your own food into a restaurant, and I agree if it’s for adults, but for small children, I say bring snacks!
The children can begin eating the crackers/dried fruit/whatever you bring while waiting for their main meal to come.
7. Bring entertainment for your kids.
Make a busy bag (there are plenty of ideas on Pinterest). Bring the iPad, whichever you prefer/allow and will keep your child entertained!
Remember, it needs to be something your child is interested in and entertained by otherwise it won’t be effective! Tailor the busy bag to your child!
My son is now 4 and he loves the crayons and activity mat he gets from each restaurant, but a year ago, that didn’t hold his attention and he wanted to play on the iPad while he waited for his food to come.
8. Go for early dinner or late lunch to eliminate the wait time for a table!
Going early will likely mean early dinner deals and/or no wait for a table! Also meaning the kitchen isn’t as busy so the food will come out quicker!
9. Sign up for the reward cards for the restaurant, you’ll likely get coupons for free appetizers or desserts.
If you usually order an app or dessert, the free coupon you get eliminates that charge on your bill.
And if you forgot snacks, at least you’ll have a little bit of food to feed your kids while they wait for their meals to come!
10. Order 1 soft drink between the two adults.
Obviously, this won’t work if you order alcohol but if you order a soft drink, share! It saves an additional $2-3 just by sharing the soft drink and you can get free refills!
Other ways to save…
- Search for any coupons online ahead of time for the restaurant you plan to go to! If it’s a chain, they’ll likely have something available!
- Use Ebates to search through restaurants.com for a gift certificate for cheap at some of your favorite restaurants! The best thing about Ebates is that you can use it for almost all of your online shopping to get cash back! I don’t shop without searching through Ebates or Swagbucks first! (Have an account with both and compare the percentage you get back from each to figure out which site gets you more back!)
You pay for the convenience of a sit-down meal served to you, but these tips will help make eating out better for your family.
Follow these simple tips and tricks to make your meal a little cheaper and make the meal more peaceful and enjoyable!
Are there any other tips or tricks you use when eating out with your family?