Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kids Eat Free

I have another (longer) post in the works about keeping Emi entertained on the drive from Washington to South Carolina. But first, my mom and I were talking the other day and she was telling me about a couple of places where kids eat free - which I thought was a grand idea. While we do get a per diem, any money we don't have to spend upfront (we get reimbursed) is a good thing. We usually order something for Emi off the kids menu, that she rarely eats half of. She's a good little eater, better (we think) than most kids her age. Not much comes between Emi and her food! But, the portions these days are just huge.

My little rant: Have you looked at kids meals lately? Not exactly healthy, and her preferences run to healthy (no, really, they do). Emi is not a big meat eater. No chicken nuggets/fingers, no burgers (AT ALL), a rare hot dog now and again, likes spag but oh, the mess! So we are left with mac and cheese, grilled cheese and spag with sauce on the side (she also is a fan of breakfasts - if we can find a place that does breakfast all day it's a good thing!). Typically, that's about it. If we are really lucky we can get fruit or a vege in place of fries (she loves fries - heck, who doesn't? - but if she sees them, that's all she will eat, which keeps Jeff and I from ordering them for ourselves ... a good thing all the way around).

It is so very important to me that Emi not grow up fighting food and a weight problem. I don't want Emi to have the problems I had/have, so teaching her now is important (and yes, I am sure her teenage years will be filled with junk). With trying to eat healthy for her, we are in fact, doing better by ourselves too. Making smarter food choices, which really is the very first step. So while Emi's meals won't be everything I would hope they'd be, at least some will be free.

Okay, rant over. Our current plan is to eat breakfast at the hotels (all that we will be staying in have free breakfasts - really, are there any out there these days that don't offer this?). Our other plan is to (try) to pack a picnic lunch each morning before we leave the hotel. We have a travel plug-in cooler, so milk, yogurts and fruit can stay cold. We have another little personal cooler that I will put baggies of ice in, along with sandwiches, wraps or whatever we decide on. Also, there is a spot in the trunk already allocated for one paper bag. Paper products, boxes (crackers, little Emi cookies, etc), that kind of thing goes in there - along with a box of Rice Crispies. Emi loves them, LOVES them. I am thinking that some mornings it would be nice to offer her that instead of pancakes, waffles or whatever else may be offered at the (free) breakfast. Healthier (as usually the choices at the hotels are serious sugar cereals) and, did I mention she loves them?

And here is the reason for this post: I want to make a list of those restaurants. Here's the list that Mom and I came up with:

IHOP - daily, 4-10pm
Applebee's - Mondays
Fudrucker's - Mondays and Tuesdays, 4-9pm, kids eat for .99 (includes drink)
Red Robin - Mondays and Tuesdays, 5-9pm
Perkins Family Restauarants - Tuesdays, all day
All of these are 'vary by location'.

I found these two links when searching for links to the above:
My Kids Eat Free - you can search by state, and then city/days of the week
Frugal Living TV
These look great, and as I was wandering around both I saw more that I (then) remembered, and made a note of).

Anyone out there with something not listed, a family fav?


"J" said...

Sounda like you have it all down!!!! =) Did you know some hotels even offer a business lunch? I know the Hampton give a brown bag - if you want to take it along with you - or at least they use to?!?!?

Just a thought!!!!

Whimsical Creations said...

You can also sign up for a free 'burger' on your birthday at Red Robin. Turns out the kids can get anything of the kids menu for their birthday at Red Robin. (BTW, my parents do not eat meat and get a fish sandwich instead of a burger) You can also sign up for a free ice cream on your bithday at Cold Stone Creamery.

amy said...

Great post..We haave been checking out free kids meals as well. IHOP is offering free meals from 4-10 every day next month!

Louanne said...


Gina (Caleeo) said...

Great idea for the trip! Sorry I am so behind.