I love to cook for my family, but being a stay-at-home mom of 3 small children (while being pregnant with a fourth), I really hit my physical & emotional limit by 6pm. That’s dinner time around here. There have been times when I’ve just sat at the table sobbing tears of exhaustion while the Hubby carried the conversation with the kids.
It takes everything I’ve got to get dinner on the table in a timely manner while juggling the needs of 3 kids under 4.
There’s not only cooking, cutting up into bite-size pieces, and feeding, but there’s the cleanup afterwards.
Some of the worst dinners are when they turn up their nose at what I’ve cooked. I do my best to cater to little taste buds while still being a little adventurous. However, there’s always those days where carrots have ALWAYS been their favorite, but they’re just not feeling it at the moment.
“Mommy, I can’t like carrots today.”
Everything changed one physically draining December Sunday afternoon. While sitting out in the minivan waiting on the Hubby to go inside to Firehouse Subs and pick up a to-go order for lunch, I read their banner that said “Kids Eat Free All Day on Sunday.”
I knew that there were other restaurants that did the same thing. Couldn’t remember any of them at the moment, but “Kids Eat Free” is pretty popular, right? It occurred to me that that would save a lot of effort on days where I just couldn’t bring myself to cook dinner.
The only caveat–we have to dine in.
No big deal.
No mess to clean up.
Let the wait staff do it.
And, thankfully, our kids are relatively mannered in restaurants because we practice table manners and behavior at home. Eating out isn’t a stressful situation for us.
If it is for your family, then this post probably won’t be your saving grace.
So, how did I figure out where my kids could eat free? It was SUPER simple. I can’t believe I hadn’t done it earlier.
Here are a few websites where you put in your location and/or ZIP code information and they tell you the restaurants in your area that offer deals.
Here’s a blog post on Brad’s Deals of national chains where kids eat free or almost free. Brad’s Deals Where Kids Eat Free
Don’t forget to Google it too, including your town (or the nearest large town) in the search. (i.e., “Kids Eat Free Restaurant Houston”).
In the Houston area, we have a website that’s devoted for our locale. I would imagine that other metropolitan areas have a similar website.
Make a weekday list for every day of the week and put the Kids-Eat-Free restaurants that interest you under the appropriate days. Don’t forget to note the time frames and other limitations.
Before you go, call to verify that the restaurant’s deals are accurate. Some locations differ. In some franchise situations, the restaurant offers a discount rather than a totally free meal for kids.
Tuesdays is a really popular day for kids-eat-free deals. So, you’ll probably have several options.
Thursdays/Fridays are generally pretty busy, so most don’t offer deals then. If it turns out to be a Mommy-No-Cook day on one of those days, then we just go to a restaurant that offers the deal every day. Usually IHOP. It’s not glamorous, but it’s free. And this pregnant mommy doesn’t have to cook nor clean up.
And pancakes. What kid is going to turn up their nose at a smiley-face pancake?!?!
Here’s an example of our schedule:
SUNDAY @ FIREHOUSE SUBS (All day)
MONDAY @ SMASHBURGER (4p-9p) Eat free w/ purchase of adult entree
TUESDAY @ LONE STAR STEAKHOUSE (All day) 2 kids w/ purchase of adult meal
WEDNESDAY @ JASONS DELI (All day) 1 free kid’s meal per adult entree
THURSDAY @ IHOP (4p-10p) 1 child per adult
FRIDAY @ IHOP (4p-10p) 1 child per adult
SATURDAY @ DENNY’S (4p-10p) 10 & Under – 2 kids/1 adult entree purchase of $2.50+