Eating Out at Restaurants on a Family Budget
Going to a restaurant on a family budget can be a challenge but it is doable, as long as it is an occasional treat and is not something you make a habit of doing because you are too tired to cook. It is nice to let someone else do the cooking once in a while after all! When you are watching your money and doing everything possible to stick to a budget it can all go out the window if you do not plan ahead before you go to the restaurant.
It has been estimated that for the average American family of four eating out at a restaurant costs in the range of $40 to $50. That amount is on the low end not the high end. When you consider that if you eat out at restaurants once a week you are spending close to $2,000 a year it makes you want to rethink your eating out habits. That is definitely an incentive to want to prepare more family meals at home and to sit around your own table and eat together!
Here are some suggestions to make eating out less expensive and less of a strain on your resources:
There are coupons, deals and specials to be had if you look for them. Go online to check for coupons at the websites of restaurants in your area. Or in some cases the specials will come to you! When you get ads and flyers in the mail for restaurants keep them in one place so they are easy to find when you decide that your family needs a restaurant night out together. Compare the specials from one establishment to another and go to the place that has the most cost effective deal to offer. Keep in mind too that you don’t want to have to spend a lot of gas money to drive to the restaurant. Choose an eatery that is as close to your home as possible!
There are restaurants that offer such deals as buy one entrée and get a second one free, or kids eat free specials or free beverage or dessert with the purchase of a meal. Look for family discounts in the newspaper as well as in magazines. Some restaurants advertise deals over the radio or on television. You might even might to call ahead to inquire about deals before you arrive.
Be realistic about how much food your children can eat. Do not order a whole meal for your young child. If the kid’s meals are not to your child’s liking then split a meal with your child or split a meal between your children. Wasted food means money wasted on a meal so make sure that you do not order more than is necessary.
There are plenty of family restaurants where the servers will understand that customers wish to share meals so whatever you do do not feel strange about asking for an extra plate so your children can share. If you do still end up with leftovers then ask for a container so you can take them home with you.
When you tell your children that you are going to a restaurant, treat it as a special outing. It should be about dining together and interacting as a family. Teach your children that it is something you do on occasion as opposed to something you do simply because it is convenient. You want the meal that you have out to be the family entertainment and you need your children to understand that. You also need them to realize that this is not something you will be doing every week. It is probably best to make eating out a last minute surprise as opposed to something they look forward to for hours or days beforehand.