Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. As always, all opinions are mine alone. #BuffaloWingsAndRings #CollectiveBias
I remember when my eldest child was little, we used to go out to eat a lot more often than we do now as a large family. I can clearly recall one time going out to dinner with my dad, stepmom and aunt and my one and a half year old. Of course the food took a while to arrive, and he quickly tired of the crayons and coloring sheets provided by the restaurant. I pulled out some saltine crackers and a little toy from his diaper bag, and he was thrilled. My dad remarked how smart it was to bring snacks, and the night went off so smoothly, without a hitch.
Since then I’ve added to my family and my kids are quite the variety as far as ages go. The youngest two are pretty rambunctious and not very patient, and it probably doesn’t help that we don’t eat out much as a family because it can get so costly (this is why I have a food blog!). However, on the occasion that we do go out to eat, I make sure I have a game plan in place to make the process as smooth as possible.
Survival tips for Dining out with kids:
- Choose a family friendly restaurant. This is a no-brainer. Some children may like to get dressed up and order fancy food not normally served at home. My kids have no interest in this. We love to go to family friendly restaurants and leave the fancy meals for our date nights for two.
- Bring snacks. There’s nothing worse than heading to your favorite restaurant with a family of seven, and waiting forever for something to eat. The kids get so impatient and most likely are hungry. You can easily ask for a basket of chips and dip, or fries. However, sometimes that’s not fast enough either. I like to pack some crackers or fruit gummies that I normally reserve for their lunchbox, it tides them over and you don’t have to hear them ask when the food is coming every 2.5 seconds. Just trust me.
- Small toy. Maybe they have a small stuffed animal they love, or a little race car they like to hold onto. I’ll often pack a fun little toy in their bag that they can play with when they get bored with crayons.
- Extra fun items. An activity book or even someones phone with their favorite game downloaded is also a great choice, at least until their meal comes. Sometimes I’ll bring extra crayons because a lot of restaurants only give one or two. My kids really love their artwork.
- Bring a jacket (or a light sweater/sweatshirt). As a mom, I’m used to being prepared. You never know what the temperature will be in a public place, and often you might be sitting right under a vent or fan. Kids want comfort, immediately. A jacket can help prevent meltdowns.
- Dress them in comfortable clothes. This is what makes the family friendly environment so convenient, no need to dress the kids up in clothes they aren’t comfortable in. Be sure they are wearing comfortable clothes that they can move around in, and aren’t too tight around the waist when they get nice and full.
- Seat them separately. I have a 4 and 6 year old that are so close, they are the best of friends until they get on each others nerves. To keep the peace we usually seat them apart. Typically one of them is next to me and one is next to dad. Our other kids are scattered in there somewhere. These two still talk and laugh, but something about sitting next to each other can really throw off our night.
- Seat them by walls. If I can, I’ll try to seat my youngest near a wall. That way if he accidentally drops something, pushes his seat back too far or gets up he won’t bother anyone that may be sitting behind him at another table.
- Request their meals come ASAP (even with appetizers). We usually order their meals first, when drinks and appetizers are ordered. They take longer to eat, and they won’t have to wait forever for their meal!
A few nights ago we decided to take the kids out to a new restaurant we’d heard about, Buffalo Wings and Rings. They are family friendly with a fun menu and a relaxed atmosphere. It was perfect for a Monday night, since they also had multiple tv screens with a variety of games and sports showing for my family of (mostly) boys to enjoy. We chose them because they serve their food fresh, not frozen and there’s a chef on staff in the kitchen to assure quality. I’d also heard that there was a new menu that had a variety of baseball themed appetizers, entrees, and desserts and I was intrigued!
First I got together some snacks and supplies to pack for the boys to bring. I got little mini activity books, double sided crayons, a toy, and a few snacks since the restaurant wasn’t in town and we had a little bit of a drive. I put them in some extra gift bags I had and used a colored pen to put their initials on them so they’d know which one was theirs. Of course, you can add stickers or fun patterns, or even use a favorite purse or bag instead of paper ones. Whatever works! .
Here’s all you need:
- Blank gift bags
- Permanent color ink pen and/or stickers to customize their bag
- snack bags, filled with crackers, trail mix, and gummies
- a small toy
- an activity book
Of course you can do alternative items, based on what your kids like or what they have on hand. You can also revise the list based on your child’s age and what’s suitable for them.
I also created my own little printable list so I wouldn’t forget anything. I just love lists, they make me feel more efficient. What’s also great is if you have somebody helping get the kids together or get everyone in the car, you can just hand them the list too and be sure everything is there. If you’d like to download mine, click here>>>>>Dining Out With Kids
The kids always enjoy seeing what surprises I’ve included for them, even if they are items already at home. You can also check the dollar section of your favorite store for fun little goodies you can keep on hand for these types of outings.
Once we arrived at Buffalo Wings and Rings we were loving the casual environment and the friendly staff. We really didn’t even need our snacks because the food arrived so quickly, which we were grateful for! We also enjoyed looking through the new “Limited Time Ballpark Favorites” menu. We ordered two appetizers off of this menu as well as my entree and Mr. Harris’.
The boys settled right in and started digging in to their goodies while we all made plans for next month. We were inspired to head to a baseball game for Father’s Day and we were having fun figuring out the details. Their food came when our appetizers did. We were starving and ordered a few appetizers since we love finger foods, and we ordered hot dogs off the new, limited time menu.
These appetizers were both SO GOOD! The funnel sticks were light and sweet and tasted just like funnel cakes. They were served with fresh strawberries and a double header of creme anglaise and sea salt caramel dipping sauce. The pretzel bites were light, airy and so flavorful and came with queso dipping sauce topped with jalapenos and salsa. I’m still daydreaming about them, and I must admit these two appetizers are what inspired us to head to a ball game soon!
The boys loved their food too, and I loved that there were traditional favorites that all kids love as well as a few other options mixed in for kids that like a little more variety. They enjoyed snacking on their food as well as munching on the appetizers.
So we are a family that could absolutely eat appetizers for our meal. What can I say, the sporty atmosphere had us desiring finger foods and we really wanted to try quite a few items off of the menu, both the new baseball themed menu and the traditional menu – which, by the way, is extensive!
These were both ordered off of the baseball themed menu. I order the Island Diamond hot dog, it was an all beef hot dog split down the middle, topped with tangy pineapple salsa. It’s served on a Hawaiian bun and sweet potato waffle fries on the side with a peach habanero sauce. Mr. Harris ordered the Hall of Flame which is also an all beef hot dog on a Hawaiian bun, seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with melted Swiss cheese and giardinera relish and drizzled with Creole pepper sauce. It was served with Cajun fries and an extra serving of the Creole pepper sauce. I loved everything about mine, but I must admit that we switched dipping sauces because the peach habanero one was a bit too spicy for me and he loved it!
RiRi has been a vegetarian for a while now, so she enjoyed the Southwestern Veggie Burger with onion rings. She said it was one of the best veggie burgers she’s had, and it wasn’t too spicy for her. WIN!
In addition to the great food and fun atmosphere, the kids also enjoyed the variety of machines in the front entrance that kept them busy as we were waiting to be seated and when we were leaving. Paired with the “Survival Kits” I had packed, we had a successful night out and we left with happy tummies and a new favorite family restaurant!
Do you have any additional strategies or tips when you go out to eat with your family?
Our boys definitely had fun, and if all else failed at least they had fun with the stickers, even if they were on their faces!