Dining out is expensive. Even when my husband and I have dinner at a casual dining establishment and it’s only the two of us, our bill is always over $100 – and that seems pretty cheap for most places. Of course, we always order a bottle of wine, so we could eat for less, but you get my point. It’s not always affordable to eat out for many families, especially when you throw kids in the mix. We have four kids, so one day we will pay a fortune to dine out. We’re good right now since the twins are only 2 and usually share a meal, and our oldest girls will share a meal, too, since our 5-year-old usually just wants a salad with a side of extra veggies and our oldest pasta or French fries (it’s easy for us to dine out with them being such cheap dates!).
If you love to dine out but your wallet isn’t a fan, we have a few simple tips and techniques that can save you some money. You really won’t even notice that you’re making a few tweaks to your date nights or your family nights, either.
Eat a little earlier
If you eat just before dinner time, you can eat for less. Usually, menu items on the lunch menu run until about 5:00 and are about 25% less expensive. Ordering off that menu means you eat the same food but you don’t bother with the hefty prices.
Not all restaurants love it, but you can do it in many different establishments. Quite frankly, it’s a wonderful idea, too, since so many dining establishments serve entirely too much food in one serving. We recently grabbed lunch at Cheesecake Factory and even the lunch portion of the salad my husband ordered was bigger than the actual dinner portion I usually make for my family of 6!
Go when kids eat free
Did you know many restaurants offer evenings in which kids eat free? If you love a specific restaurant, check to see if they have a kids eat free night, and go on that night. It’s a lot of savings if you have kids that eat a lot, drink a lot and love dessert.
Photo by Getty Images