Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thrifty Thursday

Everyone likes to go out to dinner every once in awhile... but who wants to pay the ridiculous prices?! Have you seen what kids meals are running these days?! There are several options for eating out with your family that will save you money.

1. Look for kids eat free (or cheap) deals. There is a website called MyKidsEatFree where you can search for participating restaurants in your area. Just go to that website, click on search at the top of the screen, select your state and city then click on search. It will tell you what days the kids eat free (or cheap) at what restaurants. Be sure to call them first to make sure the information is accurate before dragging your kids there only to find out they no longer participate.

2. Go to and buy discounted gift certificates for select restaurants in your area. You can get a $25 gift certificate for only $10. Most have a restriction of spending $35 or more before you can use it but a family of 5 could easily spend that much. If you were to spend exactly $35 you would actually only be spending $20 for your whole dinner... the $10 for the gift certificate and then the extra $10 you had to spend over the gift certificate amount. Just go to here, enter your zipcode and click on search. You can search anywhere between 1 and 30 miles from the center of your zipcode and then choose your gift certificates. They are then saved to your account within 24-48 hours and you can print them from your account page.

3. Try a buffet. A lot of buffets offer a variety for the whole family and varied prices for adults and children. Most places allow under 3 to eat for free and children are often cheaper than adults. If you go for a late lunch/early dinner you know everyone will be hungry and get your money's worth ;) Having dessert included with your meal price makes it all that much better.

4. $5 pizzas! Many pizza places are now offering medium pizzas at only $5. They may not be AS good as the larger more expensive pizzas but the kids love them and the money you save makes it worth it. Little Caesar's has hot and ready cheese and pepperoni pizzas. Some locations offer sausage hot and ready as well. They are also LARGE pizzas instead of the medium you would get elsewhere. For our family of 7 we can spend less than $16 and feed us all. That is 2 large pizzas, an order of crazy bread and a 2 liter of pop (so take out the pop and it is even cheaper!).

5. Go when they are running specials or check your paper for coupons. Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Applebee's often put $2-$4 coupons in the Sunday paper. Olive Garden has a soup, Salad and breadstick deal for only $7. You get unlimited of all 3 but their kids meals are rather pricey. If they are young enough you can usually get away with letting them eat some of your salad and breadsticks without having to pay for them. They are also offering their endless pasta right now. All you can eat pasta is only $8.95 and you also get the salad and breadsticks. Red Lobster currently has their endless shrimp going on. All you can eat shrimp for only $15.99 which includes a salad, rolls and I believe two sides of your choice. Not a bad deal. I also saw that Applebee's is running a special currently... for $20 you get 1 appetizer and 2 entrees. Also not a bad deal.

So be sure to look around, or even call around and inquire on specials or kid nights before choosing where to eat out next time. Might save you some money... or on the other hand, it might make you spend more money going out to eat knowing how cheap it can be ;)

Kids Eat Free/Cheap in the Quad Cities (Verified):
*The Machine Shed $0.99 on Tuesdays
*IHOP Free Every Night from 4pm-10pm (1 per adult meal) <- this may have ended already
*Hooters Free Sundays
*Steak n Shake Free Saturdays & Sundays (1 for every $8 spent, including the kids meals)

Kids Eat Free/Cheap in the Quad Cities (Not Verified):
*Applebee's $0.99 Wednesdays after 4pm
*Bennigan's Free Tuesdays after 4pm
*Buffalo Wild Wings $0.99 Wednesdays
*Denny's Free Tuesdays & Sundays 4pm-10pm(2 per adult meal)

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