Children may be priceless to their parents, but the cost of raising them can be calculated. According to the BabyCenter calculator, a baby born in 2010 to a Midwestern middle-income family will cost more than $230,000 to raise and send to a public college.
So moms, dads and other adult caregivers can surely appreciate any frugal living tips that help them whittle away at that hefty bill while simultaneously enjoying a dinner out and freedom from cooking and doing the dishes.
Here is where the Internet comes in handy, with sites like Kids Eat For and KidsMealDeals.com giving you zip-code-searchable information on restaurants where children eat for free or get dining discounts.
Since meal specials can depend on the day of the week, clicking on any Kids Eat For city brings up a calendar with top meal deals for Sunday, Monday, etc. In Philadelphia, for example, there are 27 listed Sunday meal deals. You can click links at the bottom of the calendar to see all the meal deals for any given day. Check back often because deals may be time-sensitive. For example, a Boston Market kids-eat-free deal was shown as expiring three days after we checked the site.
It looks like Kids Eat For may indeed have more listings than some of its competitors. For example, KidsMealDeals.com did have the Boston Market deal listed on its site for Philadelphia, but it lacked listings for some of the local restaurants featured at Kids Eat For. The difference could be attributed to the fact that KidsMealDeals.com returned results only for Philadelphia proper, whereas Kids Eat For showed deals in the greater Philadelphia region. (You can get around this geographical limitation at KidsMealDeals.com by searching within the radius of a particular zip code.)
Of course, Internet sites are constantly changing. No doubt both these players will seek to improve their offerings and new competitors will enter the market. For example, a different site called Kids Eat Free (searchable only by state) seems to rely more on user-submitted content.
Want some more choices? You can also try searching the listings at My Kids Eat Free or Coupon Divas’ list of places where kids eat [for] free. Another good idea is to look at online forums such as the one at Mommy Savers where site visitors contribute suggestions for places where kids eat for free.
Be sure to check the dates on some of the forum contributions though because certain deals are for a limited time only. It’s also important to look at the specific rules for each restaurant since kids’ dining deals may be limited to a specific time or a specific day.
Do you regularly seek out special dining deals for your children? What’s the best free or discounted kids meal deal you’ve ever encountered? Do you know another website or app that has good information on discounted/free meal deals for children?