There seemed to be some interest in how we can possibly eat out as a family for $40 every 2 weeks. I assume that the question was aimed at sit-down-and-eat waiter and menu restaurants, and not fast food. Although, fast food is a treat for us and not a regular thing. Our eating out budget can go to either 1 nice meal or 2-3 fast food meals, sometimes 4 if I can catch a deal. I'll start with fast food, because it's the easiest, although both ways require the same principle of being aware of good deals and planning ahead. Spontaneity will kill your budget.
Fast Food on the Cheap
Taco Bell 16 crispy tacos @ $.89ea + tax = $15.50
Carl's Jr Friday night is $.85 star burger night 8 burgers + 2 Jumbo fries + Tax = $13.20
Wendy's 4 pks 5 piece nuggets @ $1.19 ea + 3 bacon cheeseburgers @ $1.00 ea + 2 spicy cheicken sandwiches + 3 $1.00 fries = $18.50
Little Caesar's On Mondays, pizzas are $3.99 ea 3 pizzas + tax= $13.20
Popeye's Fried Chicken (Yum!) 11 pc box $9.99 + family size fries $4.00 + 2 extra legs @$1.50 = $18.50
Wal Mart Deli Bucket deal (If yours has it) 3 lbs from the deli for $10. We get 1 lb chicken strips, 1.5 popcorn chicken and .5 lb General Tso Chicken + 1.5 lbs potatoes approx $3.50 + tax = $14 and change
Fazoli's On Tuesdays, kids meals are $.99 ea. They're big enough that I get one too. 6 kids meals + something for my husband (around $4) + tax $11.50
The biggest tip is to buy the big size fries and share them. If your kids each "need" their own boxes, ask for them. I've never had a cashier tell me no. (helpful tip - keep extra fry boxes in the car for splitting up snacks)
Logan's Roadhouse Mondays and Tuesdays all day and evening have 2 adult entrees for $13.99 kids meals are $2.99 each and include a drink. The baby still eats off of my plate $13.99 + 5 @ 2.99 + tip & tax = $35.00
If you're in OKC, we love Bellini's for fine dining. Go at lunch and eat out on the patio if you're taking the kids. The portions are generous and the waiters are friendly. (If you live somewhere else, I'm sure you have local favorites that would be comparable. Pollo Pancetta (it's huge. I split it with #1 & #6) $12 + Spaghetti w/ meatballs (split with #5) $9 + hand tossed pizza for everyone else $11 + tax & tip = $40 if you take the kids at night, the same thing runs close to $55. Avoid the crowds. Go after Mass on Sunday.
Eating at a sit-down restaurant on a budget requires planning. Look up the menu ahead of time so you get an idea of what things cost. If you really like a restaurant, sign up on line for discounts. We get 15-20% of coupons regularly in our inbox. This helps tremendously. Also, have you looked at restaurants.com ? You buy a $25 gift cert for $10 ($2 if you buy it before the 16th use the code BIG at check out) There is a minimum purchase usually of $35 required, so you'll spend $20 for $35 worth of food. ($17 if you buy it in the next 3 days!!!! If you like the restaurants they have in your area, sign up for the meal of the month club. You get a $25 gift cert every month for the year for $120. If you use the code BIG, you get it for $24 so you can use the discount all year. Yay!) There are good deals everywhere, you just have to look, ask, and read the fine print.
Internet disclaimer : I have not been paid by any of these companies to promote their products. Although, if Bellini's wants to give us a free brunch, or restaurant.com wants to kick in a gift cert, I wouldn't turn it down.