Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tips on Eating Out at Restaurants

Did you know that Sonic has Family Night on Tuesdays from 5pm-10pm and that means their burgers are half priced? Their junior burgers on our menu are $1.39, so that's .70 for a hamburger!

We like to eat out.
Doesn't Everyone?
But with our growing family a) it's getting harder to go out and enjoy a sit down dinner with young kids and b) it's getting more and more expensive!
So, I've been rethinking our dining experiences. I enjoy not having to cook once in a while as well. Which is why I haven't given up completely on the whole idea. Here are some ideas for "eating out" that might save some money and sanity.

Eat out on "off" nights, i.e. not the weekend. Restaurants are less crowded and many times have week night specials that they don't have on the weekends.

Our favorite is Johnny Carino's on Mondays - we get a great deal on the family night special that feeds all of us for about $25.

Get take out, to-go, or curb side, and eat at home. Order for you and your spouse, but feed the kids chicken nuggets & fries from your freezer (add some applesauce on the side and it's just like at the restaurant). Isn't that what they would order anyway? Mine would! Also, if you get take-out, you don't need to buy drinks, tip a server, and there's no temptation for appetizers or desserts. Just order two entrees and you are done!

Don't order two dinners. If you go to a restaurant with your partner, order one dinner and an appetizer and split it. Restaurants typically serve way too much, which is costly and unhealthy (if you try to finish it).

Drink water (w/lemon) when you eat out. That will save you about $2 per person! If you have to order soda, just order one and share it - that's what we do.

Stake out restaurants that have kids eat free nights - ask at your favorite spot to see what they offer and eat on that night. My kids LOVE Rainforest Cafe, but it is so expensive (and kind of a drive). However, ours does have a week night where kids eat free with a paying adult - so next time we eat there, it can be on that night instead. (
here's a coupon for a free Volcano dessert - Mmmmm!!!) Here's a kid's eat free site that you can search by city: kidseat4free it's pretty limited in the DFW area though. A few I found out about:
Applebee's All day, get one free kids meal with the purchase of one adult entree. Additional kids eat for only $1.00! Kids also get a free sundae upon request only.

Buffalo Wild Wings 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Children ages 12 and under eat for 99¢ from the kid's menu.

IHOP 4:00pm - 8:00pm - Kids ages 12 & under eat free- 1 FREE Kids' Menu item per Adult entree purchase (Drink NOT included).

Beef O'Brady's 4 - 8pm kids 12 and under eat free with adult entree purchase.

Black Eyed Pea After 5pm kids 12 and under receive a free kids meal w/ every adult meal purchased.

Chickfila 1 free kids meal with each combo meal purchased. (Remember to check your location to see if they Participate).

Denney's 4 - 10pm kids eat free up to two entrees per adult meal purchased.

Rainforest Cafe Kids eat free 5 p.m. - close.

TX Land & Cattle Kids eat free on Saturdays from 11am-4pm.

If you are paying for a kids meal - split it in half if you have young kids. My kids never finish their own meal and usually like to have bites of ours anyway. So we like to split them up. Sometimes we just order a side dish tacked on to an adult entree - it's usually much less than the price of a kid's meal.

Watch for coupons! I snag B1G1 offers all the time and just hold on to them until they expire or they get used.

You must get a Passbook ( for your area. There SO many uses for this baby. We probably save hundreds over the year on restaurants and groceries alone with this book. (I'll post more on the great deals in this book later)

Sign up for coupons and Specials Via Email. Many national restaurants offer special savings and reward programs, which you can receive if you subscribe to their website newsletter. Many advertise that by signing up at their website they will send special promotions and coupons to you through email. I know that Red Robin does this.

I've heard about where you can order discounted gift certificates. They often have 50-70% off sales, where you get $25 gift certificates for $3. I need to try this one out myself.

Choose an affordable restaurant. While fast food is invariably bad for you, there are medium-priced restaurants that can offer a decent meal without breaking your budget. While there are many ways to save on eating out, one of the best is to start with a restaurant that doesn't charge an arm or a leg. We like Cheddar's.

Skip dessert. If you're eating at a sit-down restaurant, dessert is often a rip-off. Pick up a carton of ice cream on the way home, and save a bunch.

Lastly I just found out about a cool thing at Walgreens you can use your rebate gift card to buy gift cards. I'm definitely going to start playing the Walgreen's game to make this work for me.

Those are my "eating out" tricks to try to save ya some moola - What are your tricks or tips?

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