I've been filling my hours with my sickies (never-ending sinus infections and, most recently, roseola and a scratched cornea) by completing various research tasks during their naps. When I tire of the preschool rigmarole, I have been investigating the kids eat free options nearby. An idle observation from a friend, my noticing a new kids promotion at a local barbecue, and the realization that both my boys are now at an age where sharing my food is becoming an increasingly less satisfactory option led to my current quest, and along the way I've learned quite a lot:
1. There are more of these options available, at more places, than I would have thought. Yay!
2. That said, there used to be many, many MORE options available, but kids eat free/cheap options seem to have been some of the first victims of the recession. Boo!
3. It is incredibly difficult to find comprehensive listings of these promotions. There are a few websites that list offers, but the websites out there hardly overlap at all in the information they provide. And the individual restaurants' websites, almost without exception, do NOT list these deals. Curious.
4. I've been calling each location I did track down to confirm the details of each offer, and I've discovered that many employees have no idea what the rules are or the night the offer occurs and have to ask coworkers or supervisors, which makes me nervous, because, as I said, there is no written evidence of these promotions to be printed out and brought along.
5. Most unexpectedly, I've had the strangest feelings of guilt mixed with shame as I've called these places to get the details, which is probably part of the reason more people don't take advantage of these offers. You feel vaguely bad about getting something free even though it's the restaurant's choice to make such a program available. I am now systematically quelling these feelings so that I'll be able to breeze in and feed my hungry boys for free any night of the week.
6. And there are, in fact, deals every night of the week. My list excludes Sundays because we don't eat out that day, though there are several places that offer Sunday night meals as well, but every other night of the week is covered by at least one establishment. Yippee!
7. Some of our favorite restaurants are included, such as Home Team and Melvin's barbecue joints and Moe's Southwest Grill, but so are some local places we've never tried, such as Cibo's Pizzeria, Gilligan's Seafood, and Michelangelo's Kitchen. I look forward to expanding our restaurant repertoire AND spending less money overall!
I'm now in the process of assembling all the info into a handy chart, organizing the offers by days of the week and including complete addresses and phone numbers for on the fly confirmations that offers are still in effect. I think I might even laminate the finished product and leave it in the car. I know, once again, you wish your life was this exciting, right??