My husband and I love eating out; we figured we would enjoy it less when we had children and eventually stop going, but that did not happen. So, we use a few techniques to enjoy our experience eating out even with kids.

If the restaurant has a web page, peruse the menu online before you go to decide what you may like to order. Knowing ahead of time what you will order can save up to 10 to 15 minutes at the restaurant of actually looking at the menu and having the waiter come check on you several times before you order.

Try to go out during off peak hours. My husband and I like to go out to eat with the kids in the early evening, say between 4 and 5 p.m. before the evening rush begins. Service is usually faster, and we get out of there before our waiter is bogged down in tables. Alternatively, on the weekend we sometimes go very early, say 11 a.m. or later in the afternoon, say 1 to 2 p.m. when there is a lull in business.

–If the restaurant does not offer free food at the beginning of the meal, consider ordering a small appetizer as soon as you sit down so hungry children do not have to wait for the real meal to arrive before they begin eating.

–Bring some entertainment for the kids. We routinely bring crayons and coloring books. Luckily, many restaurants also supply these for their littlest patrons.

Melissa Batai

Melissa Batai

Melissa, a mom to three little ones (ages 7, 3 and 1), blogs at both Mom’s Plans where she writes about living a fulfilling life on less and paying down debt, and Fiscal Phoenix where she writes about rising from the ashes of your financial mistakes.