We enjoy eating out. And honestly, with just 3 of us, it’s doable most of the time. But because I’m trying to be more frugal, I still want to save — even if it is just a couple of dollars. And I know many of you are interested in ways to add dining out on a budget to your weeks.
One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is by going to to Restaurant.com to buy gift certificates for a fraction of the face value. You have to be careful, because often restrictions do apply, but it’s worth checking out! For example, most of the time, you must eat in, rather than carry out.
I recently purchased a gift certificate to one of our favorite fish places. I paid $2 for a $10 gift certificate. That $10 certificate must be used on an order of $20 or more, dine-in only. At this same restaurant, kids eat for free on Tuesday nights, ages 12 and under. By combining kids eat free night, drinking water with lemon, and choosing wisely from the menu options, with our gift certificate, the three of us can have a very nice dinner for $12, plus tip. This particular restaurant allows 2 kids to eat free with each adult meal purchased, so even if we had more children, we could all have eaten out for this low cost.
Also, my favorite kids eat free registry was started by a homeschool family right here in my city. It has grown by leaps and bounds and now shares kids eat free nights from eateries all over the U.S. and Canada. Take a peek to see if they have listings near you — KidsEat4Free.
KidsEat4Free actually has a little known double meaning. They not only help you find places where your kids can eat for free, but they also help children all over the world eat for free too. Working through World Vision, KidsEat4Free uses some of their revenue to sponsor some wonderful children that live in some very poor conditions. World Vision is helping change that. You can get more info on sponsoring a child here.
All of these web services are free to use.
Other tips to help your family enjoy dining out on a budget include:
- Always order water to drink. A family of 4 can easily save $10 just by drinking water
- Share an entree whenever possible. Most restaurant portions are enough for 2, especially if you order a salad or soup, too.
- Search for coupons before you leave the house.
- Eat an early dinner while the restaurant is still serving from the lunch menu. Or just go out for lunch instead of dinner
- Some restaurants will let you order off the lunch menu at dinner time. Ask to see.
- Ask about daily specials.
- Order appetizers for your meal instead of entrees.
- Ask for senior discounts if you are the right age for that.
- Order off the kids’ menu. Many restaurants will let you, even if you’re not a kid.
Does your family enjoy dining out. What have you done to stretch the dollar when you do?