So, I bet your wondering what the salary is for an Assistant Principal that has been in education for about 18 years. Well, for my husband that is $55,000 gross this year (and that is adding in the next two months of pay to give you an annual salary). His net take home pay each month is $3,876.01 . I realize this is sharing a lot of information, but I just don't think I can expect you to take me seriously unless I share this information. When I write these frugal living posts you need to know that I don't live on a nice fat income. We have to be good stewards of what God gives us to make it all work. And sometimes we just have to go on faith alone. I thank God the numbers don't always make sense, but that He always makes them work.
So, going out to dinner takes some creativity sometimes. Last night I did not want to cook. I have been making a lot of phone calls, preparing for the holidays, trying to find a new dentists and new caregivers, preparing to possibly sell our house and move, etc.. Yesterday was a busy day that started with me being tired already, doing a couple loads of laundry, kitchen cleanup that was not done the previous night, homeschooling, 3 phone calls, early lunch (so we could leave the house at mid-lunch time), extra homeschool choir practice (to prepare for some events), a quick thrift shop run (always a fav with my kids), and a trip to Wal-Mart for groceries. That brought me straight up to 5:30 p.m. which is dinner time around here and with all the running about we were starved (or so we thought).
Now, I could have been really frugal and gone inside and cooked some of those fresh groceries I just purchased, but I knew it was 99 cent kid's meal night at Casa Ole' Mexican restaurant just down the road several blocks and the kids love to get to go out to eat. So, that is what we did! I did not look at our ticket, but I would guess we all ate for about $35 with adding a tip. And you may think that is not cheap, but think of the full price cost and you will see it is.
So, I guess my tips for eating out are:
- Know the local restaurant specials. Where I live there are lot of Tuesday night specials where kids eat for cheap. We try to do our dining out on those days.
- A few of our favorites are Pizza Hut, Casa Ole', Crazy Jose's. There are also burger place specials but we don't usually do those. In our area I know Whataburger and Sonic offer Tuesday specials. We used to go to Johnny Carino's a lot on Monday nights because they have Grandisimo meals for the same prices as regular entrees and we can eat there for under $20, but the kids got burnt out on it.
- We also, have made careful choices in buying a couple of fundraiser "smart cards" that have savings on them. One we have is a free kid's meal with each adult meal purchased at CiCi's pizza. I have learned to like the pizza there even though it is not my favorite. I know that when we go there there is really good salad and yummy addictive dessert. Another "smart card" we have allows for Buy 1 Get 1 at a couple of burger places. We rarely use those, but they are useful sometimes.
- Know your local cheap places.... let me a elaborate.
- These are places that you can pick up food in a crunch for on the go or places that you get a lot for a little. Little Caesar's really can save the day when you are out and about with hungry kids. One $5 pizza will go a long way! This is a great option to tide over hungry kids until you get home. If you want to make it a meal, go ahead and by more. We usually get three (2 cheese for the kids and one with meat for us) and there are usually leftovers to snack on later.
- If you are going to be at Sam's Wholesale or even if you are shopping in the area, the deli there is a good option. Again, pizza is a good option there (maybe $7... not too sure). I do remember those pizzas are bigger. We usually get some "treats" there, too. And Icee can make my kids' day. They also have several other frugal options for ice cream or yogurt parfaits, etc..
- Dollar menus are great. We don't order "meals". Yep, no "Happy Meals" or other "Kid's Meals" (with exception to Chick-Fil-A... we don't go there when we are being frugal either). I have found that my kid's can not eat all that food or it is not the right "fit" for them and the toys are junk. When we order fast food they usually all get a burger or two each (not bad when they are $1... that is just my older two and the burgers are small) and usually ONE (or two) order of fries is enough for the ones that want fries (usually 2-3 of them) and we order water in a cup (not a bottle).
- And don't overlook the grocery store. Sometimes picking up a corn dog from the deli is a nice treat for on the go. And if you have no deli to order from you can always grab a loaf of bread, lunch meat, and some bananas (or other snacks) and a package of some type of drinks. Have a picnic in the park... or parking lot (car). LOL
So, that is a little peek into how we making dinner out work in the budget. Sometimes we splurge and forget about the budget. ;) Again, that is why we don't drive the latest vehicle or shop for the latest clothes brand new.