Eating out with your kids always seems like a good idea — not having to cook or clean up is enough to get any parent excited. But once you get to the restaurant chaos ensues and any dreams of a peaceful meal are put behind you (or at least that's how it works for my family.) Impatient kids with hungry tummies in small spaces doesn't usually bode well. Not to mention the cost of most restaurants is enough to put your paycheck to rest. However, if you're dead set on eating out, there are lots of hacks to save money when eating out with your kids that are definitely worth putting into practice.
My husband and I are huge fans of eating out, and actually eating in general. Before kids, you could find us at a new restaurant several times a week. But our new post-kids life put a halt to our foodie ways. However, we still enjoy taking our kids to the occasional restaurant, when our energy, time, and money allow, and these hacks have been lifesavers.
Eating out isn't cheap and with kids, the little things you do to save money here and there make a huge difference
It's kind of a no-brainer, but splitting meals splits the cost as well. Whether you and your partner share a meals and get the kids their own, or have the kids share a bigger meal, you'll save big time.
2Go On Days When Kids Eat Free Or Cheap
Many restaurants have specific days of the week or times during the day when kids eat free. Take advantage and go during these times.
3Eat During Happy Hour, But Not For The Drinks
If the restaurant has a happy hour, go during this time and order off the happy hour menu. Prices are usually much lower and there's usually a fairly wide selection to choose from.
4Order From The Buffet Or Salad Bar
Even ordering an unlimited salad bar is cheaper than a full sized entree. Not to mention you'll most likely get more food for your money.
Ordering to-go and eating at home saves you any extras you might order during your meal that you weren't planning on ordering (ie. dessert, appetizers, and drinks.)
6Eat Earlier In The Day
Going during the dinner hours is almost always more expensive than eating out in the afternoon or early evening.
7Take Advantage Of Birthday Freebies
Most restaurants have at least free dessert or even a free meal for birthdays. Take your kids, or enjoy a special treat on your own birthday.
8Take Home Extras
Getting to-go boxes for anything you don't finish is basically like getting two meals for the cost of one.
9Use Discount Sites Like Groupon
Discount sites like Groupon or Discount always have coupons for restaurants. Similarly, following restaurants you love on social media will give you a heads up about special promotions or discounts. Or simply bring coupons. Oftentimes you can get buy-one-get-one deals or other freebies.
Drinks can add substantially to your bill, even if it's just juice for your kids (unless they're included).
11Stay Away On Weekends
Weekend prices are often more expensive, so eating midweek (especially at lunch) will be your cheapest option.
12Eat A Snack Beforehand
Giving your kids, and yourself too, a little snack before eating will help you all from over-ordering and having eyes bigger than your stomach.
13Buy Gift Cards And Save
According to The Penny Hoarder, you can buy discounted gift cards for restaurants online. So instead of paying full price, you can buy the gift card and save when the time comes.
14Eat Appetizers And Sides For A Meal
Ordering a big appetizer or side dish (like a sampler platter) for a meal is usually much cheaper than order a full entree.
15Order The Special
They're called special for a reason — they're oftentimes cheaper and might come with more food than a normal entreé.