Going out to dinner as a family of five can be very pricey! On occasion, our restaurant bill has amounted to almost half of our grocery bill for that week! To keep that eating out budget in check, here is a list of our family’s favorite cheap eats in Columbus.
Note: My children are on the younger side, and my husband doesn’t mind a smaller portion of food or even a vegetarian meal. So, if your spouse is a ravenous carnivore or you have any teenage boys in your house, your total bill from these restaurants might be completely different from our bill!
This Korean-inspired fast-casual restaurant is our go-to place for eating out these days. It’s quick, healthy, and very inexpensive! The first time we went to Bibibop, however, there were a lot of complaints upon seeing all those cut up vegetables. That all changed, however, once my children discovered the yum yum sauce. Now, we ask if they would like some food with their yum yum sauce.
What we eat: All three children share a large white rice bowl with chicken, corn, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, eggs, and cheese. My husband and I order two bowls or share one bowl if we are feeling particularly frugal. I love the new Japchae noodles with tofu! In addition, there are free bowls of miso soup available.
Bill total: $15 for two bowls or $23 for three bowls
This place serves Greek and Italian street food in a casual restaurant setting. Everything I have ordered from here has been delicious! My husband and I love their gyros with creamy garlic sauce.
What we eat: My three children share two sizable kids’ meals which include chicken tenders and fries. (They are such foodies!) The adults eat actual Greek food- the falafel gyro, spicy gyro, and a side of lemon potatoes.
Bill total: $27 for two gyro sandwiches, one side, and two kids’ meals
This place serves a variety of quality Asian dishes including sushi rolls. We usually order take out but there is plenty of seating inside for a nice family dinner out.
What we eat: Since the portions are huge at this place, we buy just two entrees. The adults split the honey chicken with fried rice, and the kids share the chicken with pea pods over white rice. Sometimes, my husband even has lunch leftovers the next day!
Bill total: $18 for two entrees with rice.
Let’s be honest, here. The kids love this place for one reason: there is free soft serve ice cream with any purchase. You actually could order a bag of chips and still get free ice cream. Let’s not be that cheap, though. The adults love this place because of the fresh ingredients, healthy salad options, and tasty sandwiches.
What we eat: My husband and I usually order two entrees or sandwich combos. We would recommend the Reuben sandwich. Between the three kids, they split two kids’ meals. My son once told me it was the best grilled cheese that he had ever tasted!
Bill total: $27 for two adult entrees and two kids’ meals
Though it may not be the healthiest option, this place is always a family favorite. The chicken tenders are amazing. I am not sure that I could ever cook a piece of chicken that tastes that good. Their sauce is also highly addictive!
What we eat: My entire family orders two of the largest combo called the Caniac combo. The two combos include 12 chicken tenders, fries, coleslaw (which we substitute for more Texas toast), Texas toast, and lots of sauce. (So healthy!)
Bill total: $23 for two Caniac combos
We love this Italian fast-casual restaurant. The amount of topping options are amazing! I pile my pasta bowl with bruschetta tomatoes, artichokes, spicy peppers, glazed garbanzo beans, pancetta, and feta cheese!
What we eat: My children all share one large bowl of Alfredo pasta with chicken, garbanzo beans, bacon, cheese, and cucumbers. My husband and I order one or two pasta bowls for ourselves.
Bill total: $18 for two pasta bowls and $27 for three pasta bowls
Money Saving Tips for Eating Out:
- Share your meals.
- Drink water. It’s healthier for you, anyway.
- Don’t order individual kids’ meals unless they give a large portion of food or are inexpensive.
- Look for coupons in the mail for local restaurants.
- Check out these Kids Eat Free Nights around Columbus.