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The Kitchen is Closed

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Sometimes, eating out is a better bet than dining in.

family eating in a restaurant

Recession Mama: Although eating in is almost always the best option for a budget (you, like me, have probably put the pheasant-under-glass meals on the back burner ...), sometimes eating out just makes more sense.

This soccer season, two of my kids have practice on Wednesdays, with an hour and a half in between. Yes, I could pack a picnic, but it would be tough. I would have to have it ready hours in advance, and while picnics are fun, packing a meal for five people and cleaning out all those containers is a lot of work. We don't like to use too many throwaway plates and utensils, so we usually pack those, too. And then wash them. So when I see the opportunity for a guaranteed break from the kitchen, I'm all over it.

First, I'll check which restaurants offer kids-eat-free promotions on Wednesdays. I check some online sites by Googling "kids eat free," and come up with a bunch of sites that have national listings. The ones I use are Coupon Divas and Fru Wiki, but I recommend checking a few sites for a more comprehensive list. Okay, on Wednesdays, I find out that Coco's, IHOP, and Islands all have kids-eat-free promotions. Also, there are a couple of local restaurants that advertise that kids eat free every day with an adult entree purchase.

Next I check out my Entertainment Book to see if there are coupons for anything nearby that I haven't used, and if I can double up with a kids-eat-free promotion. Last, I check one of my faves, restaurant.com, to see if any new restaurants nearby were added. I see a couple with $25 coupons. The coupons carry various restrictions -- these stipulate a minimum purchase of $35 and 18% tip on the pre-coupon amount, so that's not bad. The site charges you $10 for a $25 coupon. A pretty decent deal, but here is the best part: they are always running a promotion. Good ones -- between 40% and 90% off. I Google "restaurant.com coupon" and come up with a current code for 80% off. So now my $25 off is costing me a mere $2. But wait, there's more -- one of my favorite cash-back sites, mrrebates.com, has an extra 25% off, so now the certificate is $1.50.

I buy and print out a few, but I couldn't wait until Wednesday. I took my family and my parents out for Sunday brunch with a $25 coupon, and all my kids eating free, for $37 including tax and tip at a lovely local restaurant where the average entree is $12. That's just over $5 per person, and I didn't have to do the dishes!


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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Barb August 14, 2009, 9:33 AM

LOVE IT!

Just an FYI, I’ve tried using buy 1, get 1 coupons WITH the restaurants.com gift certificate, and it didn’t work. But still, a good deal!

J. August 14, 2009, 1:16 PM

“Sunday brunch with a $25 coupon, and all my kids eating free, for $37 including tax and tip “
Just remember - when using these coupons you should ALWAYS still bast the tip on what the total amount WOULD HAVE BEEN without the coupons, kids eating free, etc.

I love all the discounts for restaurants, especially at restaurant.com, but as a former server I know your waiter/waitress is working hard for about $2/hr and is counting on your tip.

Recession Mama August 16, 2009, 8:13 PM

I agree. A lot of the restaurant.com certificates (like the one I used) stipulate an 18% pre-discount tip and when the bill comes, that amount has already been added in. I think that’s great because the server is getting a proper tip and I don’t even have to figure it out!

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 7:23 PM

Interesting information! Enjoyable to read. I’ve just got a point to submit about t-shirts.


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