Saturday, August 24th, 2013
With the hustle and bustle of school followed by after school activities, sometimes it’s easier to grab dinner out before extreme hunger hits and while going out can be more expensive than eating at home, it doesn’t have to be. But how do you know where the deals are? Surprisingly, there’s doesn’t seem to be a great iOS or Android app to help parents but tech savvy families can stick to their household budget by doing these four things to save money when dining out.
Get email alerts for daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social for restaurant deals. While the selection varies from day to day, email alerts help you stay on top of what restaurants are offering deals like half off on dining certificates.
Look for kids eat free days. Often restaurants advertise their kids eat free days and others are happy to offer up the information when asked. Another great resource is MyKidsEatFree.com that allows you to do a search based on your city and state for participating kids eat free restaurants. Since it can be hard to remember which restaurants offer free meals on various days, make a list on your smartphone to give your family some options when you need to grab a bite on the go.
Check Restaurant.com to see what area restaurants participate. Just by entering your zip code, Restaurant.com will find local eateries and you select the gift certificate amount you’d like to purchase at a heavily discounted rate. Often times $25 gift certificates to a restaurant cost $10 out of pocket. There are sometimes restrictrictions such as days of the week the certificate can be used or a minimum purchase amount but generally Restaurant.com is a great way to save a ton of money as long as you enjoy the fare at the participating restaurants in your area.
Shop for gift cards for favorite restaurants at warehouse clubs. Our local Costco has a wide variety of gift cards for restaurants in our area and while it’s a significant outlay of cash at first, generally a purchase of $80 comes with a $20 bonus gift card for a total of $100. If you easily tire of the same restaurant, purchase gift cards to one restaurant and have a friend purchase gift cards to another then split them for variety’s sake.
Daughter enjoying meal with her mother via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Sometimes it can feel like a grind to get grocery shopping done, meal planning completed, and get a healthy dinner on the table for a ravenous family. Online meal planning services can help streamline the process of planning and shopping in order to feed your family while also sticking to a household food budget and ensuring that items in your fridge and pantry don’t go to waste. Since families have varying preferences and food sensitivities, here are some helpful services that make meal planning less of a chore so you can enjoy family dinners.
Six O’Clock Scramble— Washington, D.C. area mom, Aviva Goldfarb developed The Six O’Clock Scramble in 1998 as a solution to put a home-cooked nutritious dinner on the table for her family each night. She personally tests Scramble recipes in her own kitchen and emphasizes seasonal fruits and vegetables in recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less. The Six O’Clock Scramble features automated grocery lists for eacg customized meal plan through the online subscription service. Trial memberships are available to try the service for two weeks and subscriptions are available for 3 months ($7/month), 6 months ($6/month), or 2 years ($3/month).
eMeals— Busy budget conscious families who are looking for specific menu options to meet dietary needs will like eMeals for their variety of meal plans. eMeals features menus for clean eating, gluten free, low carb, low fat, portion control, vegetarian, as well as natural and organic in menus designed for 1-2 people or families of 3-6. Menus plans are also based on where you shop so you can take advantage of store sales at your local grocery store and begin at $5/month.
Relish— For $7/month, Relish allows users to choose from a variety of delicious menus and recipes that come with grocery lists for the meals you’ve selected. Recipes scale to 2, 4, 6, or 8 servings. There are vegetarian menus and sides as well as kid-tested and kid friendly dinners that will encourage even the pickiest of to expand their repertoire of tastes. Five dinners tend to cost $90/week, allowing you to fit meals into your family budget. There are also special menus for camping and a picnics.
Gfree- Gluten free is a menu planning service that provides shopping lists and recipes for 5 entrees a week for $10/month. With helpful resources, recipes, and a list of gluten-free brands, meal planning for gluten-free families is a lot easier.
Mum and daughters peeling potatoes at a kitchen’s table via Shutterstock.
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