How to Save Money Dining Out With Kids

 

 

 

No matter where you go or what you order, eating at a restaurant is almost always going to be more expensive than preparing a meal at home. Whether you dine out with your children once a week, once a month, or just several times a year, there are a bunch of steps you can take to keep your costs to a minimum.

Look Out for Specials

It’s common for family restaurants to offer promotions ranging from discounted appetizers to a free child meal for each adult meal purchased. One of the easiest ways to save money on dining out is to take advantage of these specials, even if it means going out a little earlier or on a weeknight instead of a weekend. Similarly, check your local mailers for coupons issued by the
restaurants you tend to frequent.

Share Entrees

Children don’t tend to eat as much as adults, so if your kids are small and not particularly big eaters, consider either having them share entrees or having you and your spouse share your entrées with them. If you’re worried that it won’t be enough food, try ordering one extra side dish as a supplement.

Skip the Kids’ Meals

Kids’ meals aren’t always all that economical. Sometimes a kids’ meal will cost only a few dollars less than an adult-sized meal, but will also consist of a lot less food. If you dine at restaurants where the adult-sized portions tend to be generous, try having your children share a single full-sized entrée.

Drink Water

Going out to dinner is a nice treat by itself; you don’t have to load up on overpriced, unhealthy beverages to enhance the experience. Though some restaurants do offer free soft drink refills, the cost of buying a round of sodas can really add up. Instead, stick to water, and save the sugar for dessert.

Don’t Pay for the Things Your Kids Won’t Eat

Children—especially younger ones—tend to be picky eaters. If your child orders a meal that comes with a side or accompaniment that you know your child won’t eat, ask your waiter to have that item omitted, and politely request a modest discount on the meal price as a result. This is often more economical than asking for a replacement side, as restaurants tend to charge extra for substitutions.

Say Yes to Leftovers

Restaurant portions tend to be large, so if you wind up with untouched food on your children’s plates, ask to have it packed up to go, even if it is a small amount. You can probably serve it as lunch or as part of your kids’ dinner the next day, which means you’ll avoid wasting the leftovers while trimming your food costs.
Dining out with children doesn’t have to cost a fortune if you employ smart strategies and pick restaurants that are reasonably priced. Besides, it’s nice to occasionally treat yourself and your family to a different dining experience, and there’s certainly something to be said for not having to do all the cooking and cleaning up yourself.

Save Money on Groceries: Simple Ways to Slash Your Grocery Bills

It takes money to keep a family well-fed. The average American spends $150 a week on groceries, and if your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables (as it should be), you’re probably spending more. If the cost of food is wreaking havoc on your on budget, here are some ways you can save money on groceries without compromising on the quality of the meals you’re serving up:

Plan Ahead

Some people get to the store, see what’s on sale, and make purchases based on what they think they need for the week. By doing this, you’re more likely to waste both money and time. Instead, plan out your meals before shopping and make a list of the ingredients you’re missing. This will enable you to stay focused when you hit the supermarket and help you avoid having to go back later in the week.

Track Your Inventory

A lot of people waste money on groceries by buying things they don’t actually need. One way to combat this is to keep an inventory spreadsheet of the things you have in your pantry and fridge. Print out an alphabetized, easy-to-scan copy before heading to the store, or make sure it’s accessible on your mobile phone. This way, you can compare what’s on sale to the things you already have stocked and avoid spending money on unnecessary supplies.

Get a Store Card

It’s usually not a good idea to open too many credit cards at once, but store cards aren’t like that. It makes sense to get a store card for every supermarket you shop at, including the ones you visit infrequently. Often, you need a store card to take advantage of sales and promotions. Some supermarkets, for example, offer holiday bonuses, like free turkeys around Thanksgiving time, for spending a certain amount of money the month before—a perk only available to cardholders.

Check for Digital Coupons

You may be used to checking the circulars that come in the mail for weekly sales and specials, but how often do you go online to look for deals? Many supermarkets offer additional savings via digital coupons, which you can find online and load to your store card. Remember, you won’t save money on groceries with coupons if you buy stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily buy just because you have a coupon.

Buy in Bulk, But Only When it Makes Sense

Buying in bulk can save you money if you do it wisely. If there are certain staple items that you use frequently, by all means, stock up if the price is right. But if the on-sale bulk item in question is not a popular one in your household, you’re probably better off passing up the so-called deal. Remember, even canned goods and pantry staples have expiration dates, and if you wind up throwing out food, you’ll have wasted money for no good reason. If the bulk price is truly unbeatable but you’re not sure you’ll use up your purchase before it goes bad, try finding friends, family members, or neighbors who might be willing to split the goods—and the cost.

Embrace the Season

Seasonal items tend to go on sale to coincide with consumer demand. Barbecue staples and condiments, for example, are usually available at a discount before holiday weekends, and baking supplies are often reduced in the weeks leading up to the holidays. If you start running low on non-essentials, before you restock, think about whether waiting a few weeks will bring you closer to a lower price.

Never Shop Hungry

It’s a tried and true piece of advice: The hungrier you are when you hit the supermarket, the more likely you are to make impulse purchases. Do your shopping after a meal, or grab a quick, energizing snack before you go. Otherwise you could wind up buying things that are not only bad for you, but bad for your wallet.