Saving Money When Dining Out

Wednesday, I discussed how to avoid the temptation to dine out! But, every once in a while, we will go ahead and give into that temptation. For our family, that amounts to one time per week.

Here is how our family saves money eating out!

Coupons

Check out the circulars that come in the mail or local newspaper for coupons to your favorite restaurants. Many grocery stores print coupons on the back of their receipts. If you cannot find one for your favorite place to eat, do a quick google search of “(Name of restaurant) printable coupons” or look at the restaurant’s website to see if you can sign up for coupons. I like to keep a separate email address just for coupons and sign-ups.

Family Nights

A lot of restaurants have nights where kids eat free or at a discount. Some even extend a discount to adults. Simply do a quick google search of “Kids Eat Free (Insert name of your city).”

Blue Coast Burrito has $2 kid’s meals and a $6 burrito combo on Tuesday nights. Our entire family can eat for 2/3 of the normal price on that night. Select Chick-fil-a’s offer free kids meals and activities on their family nights. Logan’s Roadhouse offers two full adult meals for $15.99 Monday-Wednesday and some locations offer a discount on kid’s meals as well.

Rewards Clubs

If you have a few favorite restaurants, inquire about any reward’s clubs. Many offer reward’s programs that will give you a discount after a certain number of purchases. A lot of these clubs are now through phone apps, but some are still email clubs or in-store cards.

Gift Cards

Around the holidays, many restaurants offer incentives to purchase gift cards (such as “buy $20 get $5). If you have a favorite restaurant and can spend the cash up front, this is a great way to save money. You can even combine a gift card with other coupons and rewards programs!

Warehouse stores also offer bulk gift card packages year round. For instance, Sam’s Club offers $100 of O’Charley’s gift cards for $80. O’Charley’s also frequently offers 20% off coupons. If you use the gift cards from Sam’s and a coupon each time you go, you will end up with $125 worth of food for $80. That is a 36% savings!

Split an Entrée

Portion sizes at many restaurants are so large that you can easily split one. If at all possible, split with someone else in your party or eat half at the restaurant and ask for a to-go box. In many cases, you can find an appetizer or soup that will serve as an entrée for a fraction of the cost.

Downgrade

Look for cheaper restaurants when you do choose to dine out. Even fast food can be acceptable if your reasons for dining out include convenience, spending time with your family, or avoiding cooking and cleaning. Sometimes we eat at home and go out for dessert afterwards for a lower cost alternative on family night.

Don’t Be THAT Guy!

While it is great to save money while eating out, make sure that you do not do so at the expense of your waiter or waitress. It may seem like an easy way to save money is to cut back on a tip because it is a cost within your control. But, PLEASE, leave a decent tip! I like to tip based on what the total would have been pre-coupon or gift card.

Do you have any other great ways to save money while eating out?

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How To Not Dine Out

One of the simplest ways to save on your grocery budget is to cut back on the number of times your family dines out. However, eliminating dining out is not always easy or desirable. Here are a list of reasons dining out is tempting for our family, and how we combat those temptations!

1. I Am Too Busy!

We live busy lives and a lot of times running through a drive thru seems like a great alternative to slaving away over a hot stove. I have found that if I cook a batch of freezer meals twice a month, I am less likely to want to go to a restaurant when we are short on time. You can also stock up your freezer by doubling up on recipes that you are already cooking and then freeze the leftovers.

Breakfast burritos, sweet breads, muffins, and waffles work great for breakfast.

Taco meat, pastas, and casseroles work great for lunch or dinner.

2. Convenience Matters (But I Cannot Do Freezer Meals)!

No time to cook freezer meals? There’s an aisle for that (and even an organic one, too)!

We do not eat a lot of frozen meals around our house, but I do always keep a stash of frozen vegetables that steam in their bag. This allows me to have a quick, easy, and healthy side dish in minutes. Another favorite of mine from the freezer aisle is frozen fruit. When I cannot make it to the store for fresh fruit, it is nice to have a healthy snack on hand.

I also like to keep a spare frozen pizza for those nights that I forget to thaw out a freezer meal (or when I get tired of my boys asking me for pizza). Occasionally, we will splurge and get a bag of chicken nuggets, too.

3. I Cannot Stand Dishes!

A lot of times, I want to go out to eat in order to avoid doing dishes afterwards! As a stay-at-home mom, it seems like I have to run two loads of dishes a day, and it is nice to have a break every once in a while.

Disposable dishes are a luxury item for us because the cost can add up; however, the cost of a few paper plates is far less than the additional expense of dining out. You can get disposable plates, cups, flatware, bowls, and pans for your freezer meals.

4. I NEED TO ESCAPE!

After an entire day of being cooped up in the house, I love going out to eat just to get out. We have discovered that often, I am content to simply eat at home and go somewhere to walk afterwards. We love to go to the park, playground, or strip mall during favorable weather. When we need an indoor alternative, we go to the mall, a bookstore, toy store, or even a big box retailer.

 

Come back on Friday to read about how we save money when we DO decide to splurge and eat out!

Free Printable: Number Wheel Game

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This game practices number concepts and number order.

Print the wheel and dice on cardstock and cut out each die and the wheel. Laminate if desired. Glue each die to a clothespin.

Have your child pin the die to the appropriate number on the wheel. To add a bit of a challenge, call out a number and have your child find that die to match.

This game is a great “5 Minute Break” game for when you need to get started on supper or fold a load of laundry!

Download the Free Number Wheel.

Listen, Hear, Do

I was sitting in the waiting room at the health department and there was only one other lady in the room with me. She started off by talking to me about my little boy who was dancing and singing while we waited. She told me to relish those days because they pass by so quickly. As a young mother, people tell me this a lot. I looked down at my cell phone and pretended to be busy so that I did not have to talk to this woman. However, she was chatty and I assumed on drugs. I never looked up as she continued to talk about the job interview she just came from, her children that had been living with her husband and his wife for the past year, and how difficult life seemed to be.

When she was called back I realized I had completely missed out on an opportunity to speak life into this woman when she clearly needed me to. I was too busy judging her and trying to keep to myself. I quickly prayed that God would send me another opportunity.

A few minutes later, a lady sat down across from me. She looked tired and after a few minutes of talking I discovered that she was pregnant with her second child. She told me her first son was premature and that he had spent 100 days in the NICU. She was worried that this baby would come too early. Here was my second opportunity. I could easily ask this lady if I could pray over her and her unborn baby. But, I was crippled by the fear of what she would think about me. My name was called over the intercom before I ever got the courage to speak.

God is constantly speaking to us. Most of the time, we simply tune Him out. But, when we listen to Him, God is faithful to speak directly to us. We must follow through with the task He assigns to us.

I will never know the rest of that lady’s story. I will never know if her son was delivered safely. I will never know if she will come to know my Jesus. But I do know that on that day, I did not do my best to glorify God and listen to his commands. I allowed distraction, fear, and doubt to get in the way of obedience. A simple prayer could have made a huge impact in the lives of two women that day but I allowed the enemy to have victory.

5 Clichés Christians Should Stop Using

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A cliché is a stereotyped expression that expresses a popular concept and has lost its impact due to overuse. Clichés can become a stumbling block for many Christians because they make us believe certain lies of the enemy in a seemingly innocent manner. I myself have uttered these five phrases several times in my life without even thinking about the Biblical truths that they contradict.

1. “If it makes you happy.”

This is a phrase that is uttered frequently to us. However, what “makes you happy” is often in conflict with what is pleasing to God.

“For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.” Galatians 5:17

2. “Of course! You would do it for me.”

This is a common response when someone thanks  us for helping them out. This phrase implies that we are merely serving with the expectation that others will serve us when we are in need. Our only motivation for serving should be to glorify our magnificent God.

“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” Isaiah 58:10

3. “Believe in yourself!”

We commonly say this to people to build up their self-esteem. However, we should not believe in ourselves because our ways are foolish. As Christians, we do not believe in our own ability to do good.  We believe in God’s ability to do good through us, in spite of ourselves.

“We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ:  not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5.

4. “Be yourself.”

Every one of us was born with a sin nature.The good news is we can become new creations in Christ.  There is a reason this is called being “born again.”  It should completely change who we are.  Our goal should no longer be to be ourselves, it should be to be like Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

5. “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

This phrase implies that if we want to do something, we can (with a little hard work).  However, we cannot do anything without Christ because without him we are nothing!

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

 

When considering theses clichés, one thing I noticed about them was that they all focus on us and not on Christ! We need to be mindful in choosing our words. “No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Are there any other phrases you hear Christians say that do not reflect Biblical truths?

Prayer for the Word of God

Lord,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil (Psalm 119:162). The word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does (Psalm 33:4). My heart stands in awe of your words (Psalm 119:161).

Your Law is perfect, reviving the soul; Your testimony is sure, making wise the simple; Your precepts are right, rejoicing the heart; Your commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the lord is clean, enduring forever; Your rules are true, and righteous altogether. Your word is more desirable than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. By your word, your servant warned; in keeping your commandments there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11).

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:12). Let it be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). Let me not be merely a hearer of the word, but a doer of the word (James 1:22).

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sward, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Those who love your law have great peace; nothing can make them stumble (Psalm 119:165).

Heaven and earth will pass away, but your words will not pass away (Luke 21:33). The Word of our God endures forever (Isaiah 40:8).

Amen

Books I Love: Chapter Books

Our family has a real obsession with books! We have TRIED to cut back the number in our house… but sometimes you just have to buy a new bookshelf and admit you have a problem!

Lately, I have found that I enjoy reading juvenile and young adult fiction because I am so excited about sharing stories from my childhood with my kids. Or maybe it is just because I can finish the story before my mommy brain forgets what is going on.

Here are several of the books that I loved growing up (and a few I discovered as an adult)!

  1. Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik- (AR Book Level 2.4)- We are currently reading this with the Champ. It is a sweet collection of tales about an imaginative baby bear and his loving mother bear. I may be cheating by calling this a chapter book, as each of the four “chapters” is a separate story. But, it is the perfect book to snuggle up with at bedtime.
  2. Sable by Karen Hesse- (AR Book Level 3.8)- When I was little, I went to a yard sale with my grandparents and found a ratty old book marked down to 10 cents and I had to have it. Much like the main character of this sweet story, I wanted a dog and my mom did not want something else to take care of. Lo and behold, this was probably my favorite book growing up.
  3. Ten Kids, No Pets by M. Martin Ann- (AR Book Level 4.4)- This is another story about not being allowed to have a pet (hmm… do I see a theme here?). This time, the story is about TEN siblings that are plotting to get a pet of their own. As an only child, I was intrigued by the possibility of a family this large. There is also a sequel called Eleven Kids, One Summer
  4. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix- (AR Book Level 4.8)- This was my first exposure to dystopian novels. It is set in a society where the Population Police limit each family to two children. Illegal third children are referred to as Shadow Children. Among the Hidden is the story of a Shadow Child named Luke, who makes a friend for the first time in his life. This is the first book in the Shadow Children series.
  5. The Littles by John Peterson- (AR Book Level 3.3)- Like the title suggests, this book is about little people. The Littles look like people with tails and they live in the walls of the Bigg house. When the Bigg family rents the house out for vacation, the Littles have daring adventures with mice and cats! This is the first book in a series.
  6. The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh- (AR Book Level 3.9)- Sarah and her father travel to Connecticut to build a house on land purchased from the Indian tribe there. When her father must leave her in the care of the Indians, Sarah must be brave and learn to trust people from a different culture.
  7. Lassie Come-Home by Eric Knight- (AR Book Level 5.4)- When young Joe Carraclough’s dad is out of work, they sell his dog, Lassie, to the Duke of Rudling. The Duke takes Lassie to Scottland, where she escapes and makes a thousand-mile journey to meet Joe at the school gate as she has always done. This is one of the few dog books that does not attempt to humanize the dog. Instead, it focuses on the natural instinct, Lassie’s interactions with man, and how these two influences help her along her journey.
  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl-(AR Book Level 4.8)- When I was in third grade, I read this book because I loved the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I sincerely thought from the title that this book was it’s sequel. It wasn’t! The movie was based on this book and renamed.
  9. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien-(AR Book Level 5.1)- I would not read this book when I was younger because I was terrified by the movie “The Secret of NIMH.” However (based on a recommendation from a trusted friend), I decided to give this book a shot as an adult. Somehow, the book was not as dark as the movie. While I already knew what the The Secret of NIMH was, I was completely captivated by this story of a single mother’s attempt to protect her family.
  10. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary-(AR Book Level 5.1)- Ralph S. Mouse lives in a hotel with an overprotective mother. The discovery of a toy motorcycle lures Ralph into a life of reckless adventure with an unlikely friend.

Remember that it is best to ALWAYS read (or get a review from a trusted source) the books that you allow your children to read to ensure they align with your family’s morals.