Cheap Momma’s Guide to Parenting
Entry 6: Free-for-all
By: Liz Eagle
I love to go out to eat as a family. No, really! I do. We were champs at eating out as kids, mostly at Fish Camps and the occasional burger joint. (Anyone remember “Jigger’s”? No? Ok.) And it was a big deal! We’d all get dressed up, hope in our 1987 Ford Bronco with the seats laid down in the back, and head up Highway 74 to culinary excellence.
The site that typically awaited us was beautiful, actually: an old-time restaurant on the Catawba River, complete with a pirate with a wooden leg, the air filled with the scent of a decadent seafood buffet. I was in heaven. And I looked forward to those Fridays with great anticipation.
And my parents still hit up fish camps, so long as my dad has any say in it. Every Friday night it seems, and now, they take my kids with them.
I know you are probably feeling much sympathy towards me, wondering how my family and I have been able to follow up such an act put on by my parents. Well, it hasn’t been easy, I’ll tell you that much. We’ve yet to find a spot where we, as a family, are regulars. (Mostly because the grandparents steal the kids every weekend, and we all know weekends are prime family bonding time.)
In spite of these trials, however, we have managed to make sure of one thing when taking the kids out: we never pay for their dinner. I’m not insinuating we teach our kids the life skills of walking out on tabs (that’ll come in the teenage years) or that we complain enough to get stuff for free, though that’s an idea.
Instead, in typical Cheap-Momma style, never-would-I-ever go out to eat without first Googling “Kids Eat Free Charlotte”. And apparently I’m not the only one, because about 8 or 10 with amazing and often differing lists show up. And what are the requirements? Just show up and spend at least $8.99 on grown-folk food. That ain’t hard.
My husband and I are the type of people, like many in Charlotte, who strive to eat at locally owned and operated restaurants. We like fresh ingredients and supporting local economy almost as much as we hate big industry and corporate food. So, if you are in that boat as well, you will be super pleased to find names on the list such as Kickstand Burger Bar, Loco Lime, and Providence Road Sundries. And, luckily enough, they are all on different nights, so there’s no “eeny-meeny-miney-mo”-ing to figure out which one to choose. Just go out every night! If you are not in that boat, and prefer a good chain, Golden Corral and Red Bowl are also on the list.
I must admit, lest anyone saw me, last night was one of those nights. In spite of having bowls of potatoes and sweet potatoes and a fridge full of left-overs, the laziness took over and we headed out last night to a “kids eat free” night at a chain delicacy: Sonny’s Barbeque. For a family who rarely eats out together, much less at places that done neon lights, it’s a special treat. You walk in, greeted by the pulpit-esque host stand, and are lead to your seat. You can sit down surrounded by old people and country music, watch a little Fox News, and dive into a huge plate of garlic toast and pulled pork. Who cares if you look down mid-meal and realize there are no vegetables on your plate? Nutrition is not the goal: economics is. Come home and peel an apple. It all evens out in the end.
So, in typical list-format, here is your Cheap Momma’s Guide to a cheap night out:
1.Determine that, yes, you are too lazy to cook dinner, and yes, that’s ok.
2.Put the kids in front of the TV while you get on Pinterest, er, Google and search for Kids Eat Free Charlotte.
3.Pick out the website that speaks to you.
4.Try REALLY hard to remember what day it is and then find it on the calendar.
5.Pick the best (or in our case, worst) possible choice and tie your laces.
6.Bound out to the car, in spite of the sun being down at 5pm, and caravan to the restaurant of your choice.
7.Undoubtedly order the most expensive kids meal (ie, catfish, ribs, snow crab legs) so you are really getting your money’s worth.
8.Feel semi-bad for how much you have eaten.
9.Feel really good for how little you paid.
10. Contemplate doing it again the next night.
So there you have it. An easy-to-follow how-to on eating in cheap-momma fashion. Stay tuned: you never know where the cheapness will lead us