MoneyMindedMoms: Restaurant Tips for Budgeting Families

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Restaurant Tips for Budgeting Families
Jan 01 2011 08:00 PM | Tricia Meyer  in Feeding Your Family -----
Everyone in my family likes to eat out at restaurants but our budget just doesn’t allow it. It’s nice to splurge sometimes, so I have found creative ways for us to be able to eat out while sticking to our weekly budget. Obviously the easiest solution is just “don’t eat out.” Yet for many families it is a nice treat that is worth planning for each week or month (depending upon your situation). Here are some things that my family does to maximize our dollars at restaurants.

  • Make your restaurant meal your big meal of the day but earlier than dinner. Many restaurants have great specials at lunchtime, even on Saturdays and Sundays. Make a late lunch (around 2) your big deal for the day so that you can take advantage of those specials. Then just have a light “dinner” at home of cheese, crackers, and fruit. This works especially well when eating at a buffet that has lunch prices until late afternoon.
  • Plan dessert at home. Bake some cookies before you go out to eat. When they come around with the dessert menu and the family starts pleading for $6 desserts, remind them that you already have dessert ready at home, which will be even better because you will be more hungry for it if you wait an hour or so.
  • Watch for kids eat free nights. These are a terrific savings, especially if you have multiple kids. Do a search for kids eat free nights in your area and pay attention to signs in store windows.
  • Get takeout. You can save a lot when you aren’t paying for drinks and a big tip. On average our family saves about $10 a meal by bringing it home rather than eating at the restaurant.
  • Use coupons. Always be on the lookout for coupons that come in the mail, especially for new restaurants that are trying to get business. is also a good source for low price meal certificates.
  • Become a fan of restaurants. Whether it is on Twitter, Facebook, or the restaurant’s mailing list, you should sign up to follow your favorite restaurants because they often send out exclusive deals to their fans.

Using the tips above, hopefully you can indulge in a little eating out without going outside your budget.

Tricia Meyer is an attorney, blogger, affiliate marketer, wife, and mother of two daughters. Her cash back site Sunshine Rewards helps moms save money with coupons and shopping rebates. Her newest venture, Hunger Games Fan, combines her love of deals with pop culture.


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Julie Vazquez 

01 January 2011 - 07:28 PM
Great tip on "Become a fan of restaurants" I'm always getting special deals and coupons that way, and those savings add up!

Vicky Collins 

02 January 2011 - 03:29 PM
Great tips! I will definitely become fans of my favorite restaurants and be on the look out for kids eat free deals.


02 January 2011 - 06:56 PM
Very sound advice! I will add one note - order water with your meal rather than sodas. Not only will the taste of your food be more apparent, but it will save the often $2+ that most restaurants charge now.

Tricia Meyer 

02 January 2011 - 08:58 PM
One of the other things that I do when we order takeout is use my own silverware. Then I save the plastic stuff that they give me in a drawer to pull out if I need to send disposables for a school lunch or something like that. I don't use a lot of disposable silverware anyway, but this keeps me from every having to buy any!


07 January 2011 - 11:38 AM
One thing that has saved my family hundreds of dollars is a "super saver card" that a local church sells every year (and I hope they never stop!) They sell these cards (the size of a credit card) for $10 and has about 20 "deals" such as buy one get one free from restaurants, free car wash with oil lube, 10% off restaurants, buy a meal get drink for free, etc. They are good for 1 year. A friend gave me one as a gift and I love it!!
Its a win win situation, the businesses have more customers and the church makes money too.I don't know if there is anything like this in other areas, but it's worth checking into.
God Bless Everyone of us hard working moms!!


21 February 2011 - 06:54 PM
One of our local fast food places has $2 kids' meals one night a week. On a different night, a pizza place has a weekly special. We try to keep our eating out confined to those particular nights and use those specials to our advantage. Another fast food place has a 4 for $5 menu, and we use that a lot, hitting the drive-thru and fixing drinks here at home. We have 3 kids and can usually feed everyone for under $20 using these.


25 February 2011 - 02:45 PM
I love to use for dinners out. They have deals all over the city at 50-90% OFF! Crazy bargains! Fun to try out new places too!
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