! Tips

Each course costs - A meal complete with appetizers, drinks and desserts can really blow your budget. In many cases these extras can double the cost of your meal! Make sure you and your child understand what is included in the price of an entrée and what is extra. Consider skipping the extras. Instead of an expensive restaurant dessert, plan to have a fun treat when you get home.

Watch your refills - Remember that not all drink refills are free. If you and your child both order a drink refill, you could add an extra $7.00 to your bill! If you dine out twice a month, that's almost $170.00 a year!

Discount dining - Some restaurants will offer special deals at certain times or will have limited time promotions. Often, you can find coupons in the newspaper, in the mail or online - but be sure to read the fine print for expiry dates or exceptions before you go.

at a restaurant

Going out to a restaurant can be fun for special occasions or, for busy parents, a convenient alternative to preparing meals at home. Like most other things, the cost of restaurant meals is increasing and dining out can really eat into a budget. It is important to teach your child that a meal out is a treat rather than an everyday type of occurrence.

it Activities

Budget the dinner

Determine a budget for your meal out and before you go inside the restaurant check out the menu to make sure it is within your budget range. Let your child help calculate what each person's portion of that budget will be.

At the restaurant, discuss your child's selection. Are the drinks extra? How about appetizers? Go through the process with each dinner. Have your child use a calculator to figure out the total cost of the meal by adding up everyone's selections, taxes and tip. Are you still on budget? If not, everyone should agree on adjustments to the order. When the bill comes at the end of the meal, review it with your child, check it against your budget, and pay it together.

Next time - eat at home

Next time you are dining out, go through the menu with your child; decide on a meal that you both think you would enjoy and make a note of what it costs at the restaurant. Talk about what you think would go into making that meal at home. Next time you're thinking about going to a restaurant, don't. Ask your child to help you shop for, and prepare that restaurant meal you talked about. It can be fun cooking with your child and they will see that eating in can be just as much fun as dining out! Calculate the money that you saved by avoiding the restaurant markup, costly drinks, taxes and tip.