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How to Find the Best Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Some restaurants have great kids eat free specials. Find out everything you need to know about how they work and where to find the best specials near you.

How to Find the Best Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Eating out with the whole family can be an expensive outing. Thankfully, some restaurants offer specials where kids eat for free. These specials usually run on specific days of the week and you'll often have a limited number of kids' meals to choose from. It's not super convenient, but the savings are so big that the extra effort and planning end up being really worthwhile. It is free food for kids after all.

How does it work?

The rules vary from restaurant to restaurant, so it's a good idea to phone ahead and confirm that the special is still running and find out exactly how it works. 

Typically kids can eat free as long as the adults are ordering a meal. There are usually rules and limits to how the special works. The most common is for one or two kids to eat for free per adult. The adult obviously has to order an adult meal and kids can usually order off the kid's menu. There might be other limitations like no sharing and there will almost always be an age limit. 

What's the age limit?

The age limit varies from place to place. Most places let kids under 12 eat free as long as they order off a specific menu. Some places choose to set the limit lower but might still offer older kids a discount.

Kids eat free on certain days

Most restaurants don't let kids eat free all the time. Fridays and Saturdays are typically a restaurant's most busy days. You don't usually find specials on those days because restaurants have enough customers who are willing to pay the full price. 

The weekdays are usually quieter for restaurants and so they run a variety of specials to try to draw more customers to their stores. That's why kids-eat-free-Tuesday and kids-eat-free-Wednesdays are so plentiful. 

Is there anywhere kids eat free on the weekend?

Kids eat free weekend specials are much less common. If you have your heart set on eating out on the weekend, then Sunday is your day. Friday and Saturday specials are rare, but you've got a good chance of finding kids eat free specials nearby on a Sunday. 

There are a few places where kids always eat free. So, those places are obviously free on Fridays and Saturdays too. The selection isn't great, but it's better than nothing.

How can I find restaurants where kids eat free?

You can find extensive lists online of where kids eat for free or get discounts. These lists are a good start, but many smaller, more local restaurants don't make the lists. 

Often you'll see a "kids eat free" special advertised, only to find the special doesn't run in your area or has different terms and conditions. There's a great "kids eat free at IHOP" deal, where kids eat free every day from 4 pm to 10 pm. You'll see the special on all the lists, but the reality is that only certain stores run the special. If you're working off an internet list, it's best to phone ahead to make sure the special is running.

Use social media and look out for local specials

The best way to find kids eat free deals is to look out for them. Ask other parents if they know of specials in your area and pay attention to social media and local advertising. 

Smaller businesses often make use of cheaper advertising options, so follow their social media pages and remember to check your Save mailer for a great variety of promos and discounts.

How else can I save on eating out?

Your favorite restaurants might not have kids eat free specials, but, thankfully, there are lots of ways to save when you eat out as a family. Some of them require more effort and sacrifices than others, but all of them will help you keep the cost of eating out down. 

1. Use other discounts and specials

Look out for other specials and especially for coupons and discount codes for your favorite restaurants. Some restaurants don't have kids eat free specials, but they offer other specials and coupons like half-price Tuesdays or discounted burgers that can help keep the costs low. 

2. Share a meal

Restaurant portions can be big. Instead of taking leftovers home, share a meal. You might not feel as full, but the meal literally ends up costing half the amount (drinks excluded, of course) If you're worried a half serving won't be enough, eat a snack before you go or prepare a dessert and coffee to enjoy at home after your meal.

3. Cut back on the drinks

Drinks make up a significant portion of the cost of eating out. Drinking water instead can really help keep the cost of your meal down. If it seems like too much of a sacrifice, compromise and let each person order one drink and then switch to water if they're still thirsty.

4. Have dessert at home

Do you love having dessert when you eat out? Cut the cost by planning to have coffee and dessert at home. It can become a fun tradition for the whole family. Go all out and bake something from scratch or keep it simple and buy a convenient dessert or special chocolate.

Keep it fun

Eating out should be a fun experience and it's important to keep it light as you work towards saving money. If you're eating out with your kids let them see you enjoy the experience and the savings - that way they'll see being savvy with your money as a positive sacrifice and not a terrible burden. Looking for more tips to help you save?  Save is a fun website that can help you with some great money-saving tips that spark joy and make life richer as you take control of your finances.