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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Money-Saving Ideas When Taking Kids Out to Eat

Keep a little bit of dough in your pocket!

As a family, we try to take the kids out to eat about once a week.  Because we live in such a small place (a 320 square foot motorhome,) it’s nice to get the family around a real table every once in a while.
1.      Pick a cheap place!  Perhaps this goes without saying, but McDonald’s is cheaper than Taco Bell, which is cheaper than Wendy’s, which is cheaper than Cracker Barrel, which is cheaper than Applebee’s!  For the most part, we eat at fast-food restaurants, because kids like them better most of the time, and they are also cheaper.

2.      Order from the dollar menu!  Save big expenses like Happy Meals for such big deals like birthdays, etc.  Think of it this way: if you have 3 children, and each of them get a Happy Meal ($2.99, $3.49, or $3.99,)  you could be spending anywhere from $9 to $12 just for some hamburgers, fries, and drinks.  (Their meal may be happy, but yours is a Sad Meal!)  Besides that, many times a portion gets tossed in the trash and wasted!  Since waste is basically money down the drain, that’s a no-no!  Save money by getting each of them a dollar hamburger and let them split an order of fries.

3.      Eat smaller!  Remember that whopper burgers also mean whopper calories!  A practice that they have in Oregon is that there is always a calorie count on each item on the menu, right beside the item.  That was an eye-opening experience for me.  I discovered that my favorite hamburger is around 1000 calories, not to mention the fries!!  Needless to say, I had to make some adjustments to my order.

Kids don’t need tons of calories either.  A small drink can have anywhere from 110-160 calories, and that can add up even on a child.  Trying to keep your portions small will save you money twice – once when buying the food, and again in not having to go to the doctor’s as much with weight-related issues!

4.      Drink water at meals.  It’s unbelievable how much they charge for a soda; anywhere between $1.29 to $2.99!!  Instead of ordering that combo you usually get, order the burger and water.  You’ll leave just as full.

5.      Do lunch instead of dinner.  Sometimes we do splurge and take the kids to a place like Hometown Buffet or Cracker Barrel.  But it’s best to do that for lunch.  Sometimes we even have a late lunch and save a ton of money!  Many of the buffets carry their lunch pricing until 4pm, so if you have an early dinner, it can save you bucks.

6.      Everybody order kids’ meals!  Sometimes we go to a place that allows adults to order off the children’s menu.  When we do that, we still tip as though we ordered adult meals, because we know that the waitress does just as much work. 

7.      Don’t short the waitress!  One place you do not want to skimp is the tip – make it worth someone’s while to wait on you.  We have all heard of the preacher who shorted the waitress’s tip, and then wondered why she would never listen to the gospel!  Let that not be said of any of us.  I learned, especially with a large family, that it is a very good testimony if we try to leave our table somewhat neat, and leave a substantial tip.  In my mind, that’s what Christians do.  If you can’t afford a tip, then go fast food.

8.      Look for specials, like Kids Eat Free Night!  Some places have them twice a week like Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Some places offer two children’s meals free if you buy one adult meal, and some places offer just one.   Also, you need to be careful that you buy the qualifying meal, or you may not get anything free!  (Ask me how I know!)  Again, tip as though you were paying for everything.  Waitresses are still on their feet working no matter how much you get for free.

Next time you feel the squeeze of your four walls,  go out to eat…cheaper!

Don't keep rolling on hungry, roll on happy!

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