If you've hung out on Passionate Penny Pincher for any length of time, you know that spending lots of money on food (which just gets eaten and then is gone . . . ), is something I just don't enjoy (at all!) However, as I looked at our schedule this fall, I realized that there was no way that we could eat at home on Monday nights. (Between just three children, we have seven activities between 4 PM and 9 PM . . . crazy.)
Last year we struggled through and tried to grab sandwiches in a mad dash early in the afternoon, but as the 3-4 o'clock hour is now taken over with homework, there's no (reasonable!) way that I can manage dinner at home this one day of the week . . . anyone else have one of those nights on their schedule?
While we don't eat out much, and certainly not very extravagantly, even two to three meals out per week can really hit a budget when you're feeding a family of five (especially when one of them is an 11 year old boy!) And, while I know that fast food isn't always the healthiest option and wouldn't be my first choice most nights, by limiting the number of meals that we do eat out I feel like it's occasionally worth the splurge to save my sanity.
So, I've been trying to come up with a few inexpensive restaurant meals on the cheap those nights that dinner at home just isn't going to happen. Here's what we've had so far:
- Little Caesar's Pizza and Crazy Bread (using $1.99 Crazy Bread coupon): Paid $7.02 for dinner by bringing drinks from home.
- Subway (using Buy One Get One Free coupons from recent Sunday inserts): Paid $10.24 for 4 subs by bringing a can of Pringles along with drinks from home. (You could also use this great Saveology deal: get a $10 Subway Gift Card for $6.50)
- Jack's (using Buy One Get One Free coupons from Enjoy the City booklets): Paid $12 for 4 cheeseburgers, fries & drinks
- Sam's Club (everyday low price!): Paid $12.45 for 5 slices of pizza with drinks
And here are a few more restaurant deals to try on our list . . .
- Earthfare Kids eat free Thursday nights with each adult meal purchase (we've fed our family of five for around $13)
- Quizno's using Buy One Get One Free coupons
- Arby's with their free menu item with sandwich purchase
- Taco Bell's Naco Surpreme (at least my hubby and I can eat on the cheap!)
- Chic Fil A Kids Eat Free night
- Free Chicken Salads at Mc Donald's thanks to Recycle Bank coupons (free when you buy a Happy Meal . . . I'm hoping I can convince my hubby to eat a salad there too!)
We've really watched our dining out expenses these last two weeks, and have managed to save $75 in just two weeks by planning our meals out in advance, always ordering water (which is hard some days, but saves almost $10 per meal!), and trying to eat at home on nights when we don't have a crazy schedule. I was pretty shocked when I saw just how much money we saved just by changing a few habits; which means maybe my hubby and I can enjoy a movie night out with a sitter with our savings! 🙂
What tips do you have for saving on your family's budget while eating out? Please leave a comment to share (I need all the help I can get on this one!)
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I’m married to a penny pincher that is also a minute pincher and a calorie pincher! So we typically just have a sandwich night with raw veggies (baby carrots, cukes, cherry tomatoes, baby sweet peppers) and a water. (Not very exciting, but it’s just food) 🙂
I haven’t tested this yet, but it sounds good!
Domino’s Pizza Large 3 Topping Pizza with FREE Cinnastix for $7.99
Large 3-Topping Pizza for $7.99. Add coupon code “EBCS” for free Cinna Stix. Valid only Mon-Wed Carryout only.
Penny Fortenberry says
Some of the Papa John Pizza’s around here have Monday madness. $8.99 for a large any topping pizza. I also signed up for text message deals so that they let me know when they are having specials. If you need a Tuesday special, you might check at Sonic. Ours have half price sonic burgers every Tuesday from 5pm to close. I always get extra for my husbands lunch the next day. (8 burgers tonigh for 11 dollars and some change and supper and lunch is taken care of!)
it’s not eating out but….you could bake hotdogs in crescent rolls then wrap in foil to keep warm before you start out at 4. some cut up fruit, chips and water and you can have a deli in your car;-)
Great idea Deanna! (I did that a few times last year, but hadn’t thought of it yet this year – that would be great since even swinging through the drive-thru was rough last night . . . )
We like the Taco Bell $2 meal deals for a quick, cheap meal with drink.
I didn’t even know they had a $2 menu – thanks Misty! 🙂
We’ve avoided eating out since school started last Monday. My kiddo (only have one which makes a big difference though he is quite a busy child) does karate on Monday and Wednesdays right after school. We have just enough time to stop by the house to change before heading out again. I put something in the crockpot before leaving for work in the morning, so something is ready when we get home. We do get home around 6, so much earlier than you do on Mondays. Drinking water is definitely a money saver when eating out! We also do a lot of dollar menu items at fast food places. I’m excited to find out about so many places where kids can eat free. A friend of mine gave me a page she got that had Kid’s Eat Free lists for everyday of the week. I think she said she got it from Rocket City Mom???? Not totally sure, but something to check out. It was quite a list. Good luck!
I love Rocket City Mom’s list but hadn’t looked at it in awhile – there were quite a few new deals added (here’s the link – http://www.rocketcitymom.com/resources/kids-eat-free/)
We did the crockpot last year and that was huge, I just haven’t figured it out when it’s so late before we get home (last night I was home with the girls by 8:20 but the boys didn’t get home until 9:30!) Hopefully our Spring calender won’t be so late!
The Reynold’s slow cooker liners are a must-have for lots of crockpot cooking (usually a couple nights a week at my house). Saves tons of time on cleaning and scraping the pot. I have some tearpad coupons (not sure where from???) for $1.50 off of a foil and other product purchase from Reynold’s and they are included in the “others” and a printable $1/1, I think (not sure where I got that one either). Those a big timesaver for me. Thanks for the link!
Both Chapala & Famous Joe’s offer kids eat free on Monday night. Usually Mark and I can share fajitas for one & that is more than enough & a small pizza at famous Joe’s is as well. Also, like famous Joe’s on fb and they have trivia questions every couple of days…I won a free small pizza yesterday (yay!).
I gotta go like Famous Joe’s on FB – we love their kids eat free on Mondays but I never even thought to look at their Facebook page!
One of my favorite options is a BBQ Pork Family Pack from our local bbq restaurant, the Pig Stand. For $14 you get a pound of pork, slaw, sauce, beans, chips and a large pack of buns. From time to time, they also run a special where it is only $12. This is generally enough that we have leftovers the next day. Also, we get Captain D’s coupons in the mail quite often and they have a family pack of fish, fries, slaw, and hushpuppies for $10. This is more than enough to feed our family of four. We have fall baseball going right now, so I completely understand what you are going through! I have the next two and a half weeks planned out as to what we are eating each day and at what time!
GREAT idea on the barbecue – we have a favorite two and I hadn’t thought of that yet. Thanks fo rthe tip!
We’ve also found Pizza Hut to be a suprisingly good deal for our family. Granted we have two toddlers, but we can all four eat for about $8 if we drink water.
That’s GREAT for Pizza Hut Elizabeth! (I don’t think my kids could do it because they eat too much, but that’s a great deal with smaller children!!!)
Amanda Offrey says
On Monday nights kids eat free at Mellow Mushroom! They get a free one topping slice of pizza and a drink!
Hi Amanda – I didn’t know Mellow Mushroom offered that – what a great deal! Not sure how we’ll have enough time on Mondays yet, but surely we can work it out once soccer season is over! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂