Dining out as a family is a fantastic thing to do, both for parents and kids. Some people might say that children don’t belong in restaurants. But enjoying a meal out, whether it’s fast food or somewhere fancy, is a great way for kids to learn their manners. You can spend time together as a family and have valuable conversations while you eat. It gives parents a chance to have a meal without cooking, and without having to find a babysitter. But dining out when you’re on a budget can be a little difficult. If there’s four, five or even more of you, your meal can get expensive. However, it’s easy to find ways to save.
Find Somewhere to Eat in Advance
Before you go out to eat, it’s best to choose somewhere to go if you’re trying to save money. While wandering around and picking a restaurant on a whim is fun, it’s not the smartest strategy. You might not be able to find somewhere in your price range or getting a table could be hard. When you’ve got hungry kids with you, you don’t want to make them wait. If you find somewhere beforehand, you can also check the prices. Some restaurant menu info can be found on the restaurant’s website. Other information on meals and prices will be collected elsewhere on the Internet. If there are no exact prices, you can find a general price range.
Look for Places Where Kids Eat Free
Depending on what sort of restaurant you choose, you can find many places where kids can eat free. There might be conditions attached to this, so it’s important to be aware of the rules. For example, sometimes it’s one child per adult that pays for a meal. So if you’ve got two parents and three kids, you’ll be out of luck. In some restaurants, a child could mean under 12, while in others they might be under 6. The offer might also only apply during certain times or days.
Look for Small Plates
Adventurous kids don’t want to stick to the kids’ menu all the time. And if they do, you could even end up spending more money. If you want to avoid chicken nuggets and burgers, forget the children’s menu. Look at other options that come in small portions so your kids get to try something new. You can consider side dishes, which will often make a great meal on their own. There’s also appetizers, as well as half portions. Many restaurants will offer smaller portions of their usual plates instead of a kids’ menu.
Share Your Food
When you’ve ordered your own delicious food, you might not want to share. But if you find you often only get halfway through a large restaurant portion, don’t let it go to waste. Ask if you can have extra plates and dole out a little of it to your kids. Remember, they don’t need to eat as much as you. And if you’re having several courses, they’ll certainly get enough over the course of the meal.
Eating out as a family doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you want to save, approach it smartly and plan in advance.