A Family-Friendly Guide to Affordable Dining Out with Kids


For families, dining out is often a delightful break from the routine, but the costs can quickly add up, especially with a table full of kids. Balancing the desire for a restaurant experience with budget constraints requires savvy strategies. From leveraging coupons to exploring kids-eat-free deals, here are 14 smart ways to make eating out with your family more affordable.

  1. Look for Restaurant Coupons in the Mail:

Resist the temptation to discard junk mail immediately; it could be a treasure trove of restaurant coupons.

Local value packs and paper flyers often contain valuable discounts, including kid-specific deals.

  1. Search for Coupons Online:

Conduct an online search for restaurant coupons to discover printable or downloadable options.

Save substantially by dining at places for which you have coupons.

  1. Check Deal Sites Using Browser Extensions:

Install Rakuten, CapitalOne Shopping, or Honey browser extensions for additional cashback on deal site purchases.

Double down on savings by combining discounted prices from deal sites with cash back.

  1. Use Coupon Apps:

Leverage smartphone apps like Ibotta, RetailMeNot, Coupon Sherpa, and Valpak for on-the-go restaurant coupons.

Explore cash-back rebates, gift cards, and local discounts through these user-friendly apps.

  1. Sign Up for Restaurant Rewards Programs and Apps:

Register for loyalty programs and apps offered by family-friendly restaurants.

Enjoy rewards, discounts, and exclusive deals, making each visit more cost-effective.

  1. Purchase Discounted Gift Cards:

Buy discounted gift cards from platforms like Raise to save on meals at frequented restaurants.

Take advantage of holiday bonus cash offers from restaurants you love.

  1. Make a Savings Plan:

Set a budget before going to a restaurant and discuss it with your family, including price thresholds.

Check menus online to avoid surprises and plan accordingly.

  1. Split Meals:

Take advantage of large restaurant portions by creatively splitting meals among family members.

Share adult entrees, order family-style, or split one adult entree between two children.

  1. Order Starters Instead of Entrees:

Explore appetizer menus for substantial and budget-friendly options.

Enjoy dishes like nachos, buffalo wings, soup, and salad that offer variety at a lower cost.

  1. Order a Kids Meal, Early Bird Special, or Happy Hour Special:

Inquire about ordering kids meals for adults and explore early bird or happy hour specials.

Take advantage of smaller portions and reduced prices during specific hours.

  1. Avoid Extras (or Split Them):

Skip expensive extras like drinks, appetizers, and desserts to keep costs down.

If desired, share appetizers and desserts among family members to minimize expenses.

  1. Sneak in a Freebie:

Politely ask for an extra side for free when ordering kids meals.

While not guaranteed, some restaurants may provide complimentary sides, reducing overall costs.

  1. Look for Kids-Eat-Free Deals:

Research restaurants offering kids-eat-free deals, often on weekdays or during specific hours.

Confirm terms and restrictions and explore a variety of popular chains participating in such promotions.

  1. Opt for Takeout:

Consider opting for takeout to save on tips associated with dining in.

Enjoy the convenience of takeout, allowing flexibility for families with energetic little ones.


Eating out with a family full of kids doesn’t have to break the bank. By adopting these smart strategies, you can savor the joy of dining out without compromising your budget. From leveraging discounts and loyalty programs to exploring creative ways to split meals, these tips empower families to enjoy quality meals together without draining their wallets.

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