After School Activities Leave No Time For Dinner?

October 20, 2009 – 12:13 pm

Nowadays, when kids return to school in the fall, it no longer means an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. day.  It seems now that the days start earlier and end much, much later.  With all the extra-curricular activities our kids are involved in, when do you have time for a meal together?

Too often, family meals depend on driving through a fast food place or snacking in the car.  These so-called “meal times” can put a real dent in the family food budget, but more importantly, in family time together.

If you’re arriving home every night with your starving family only minutes before bedtime, how can you get something together that even resembles dinner?  Even if you plan ahead, there are going to be nights when it’s too much of a struggle, and that’s when the drive-thru seems like the only solution.

Here’s where a little bit of planning can pay off big time, both in time together and your budget.  You know your family’s schedule each week – basketball on Monday, ballet on Tuesday, both soccer and theatre on Wednesday – and so on and so forth.  With your schedule in hand, you know when you’ll be driving around with the family looking for food.  Now that you have your weekly schedule mapped out, it’s time to find some great deals on meals.

When your family decides that at least once or twice a week, you need to eat out somewhere, you want to find the most reasonably priced meal that you can find.  Food that is well prepared, nutritious, and delicious should also be a priority.  Here’s where your sleuthing comes in.

This is the part that makes you a frugal-food warrior.  With a quick click on a website such as, you can search out restaurants in your area that offer low-cost, half price, or free meals for kids on just about any day of the week.  These are meals that are kid-friendly and parent approved.  These restaurants depend on repeat customers, so they are most likely going to trot out their best promotions to get and keep you, the busy parent, coming back week after week.

The menus can sometimes be limited, but most kids don’t mind having their favorite dish again each week.  There are normally menu choices for parents that are very appealing, because, after all, kids aren’t driving themselves to these restaurants – their business relies on making you happy, too, since you’ve got the car and the checkbook!

So, that’s your assignment this week.  Go through your calendar and map out a few nights when you know you don’t want to deal with dinner when you get home.  Then, look at the restaurants in your area that offer specials during the week.  If you can sit down at a restaurant you like, enjoy a nice meal with your kids before you go home, and save your grocery budget, isn’t it worth a little time to do the research?

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