Thrifty Thursday: Cheap Eats & Community Events

Henry - Feb 2007

So today, I’m deviating a little bit from the Bills and Budgets theme I’ve been doing this month in honor of Valentine’s Day!  My post today will be about Cheap Dates!  This can still be filed under the entertainment/eating out budget, I guess (if you have a budget for those!) so maybe it still fits in with the original theme?? 

*note: sorry for the bad quality of the picture.  It’s a page from my scrapbook featuring a picture of Henry and really cute vintage cowboy valentine’s day paper.  :)

Rick and I got married on February 22nd (SIX years ago!!), and we went and got our marriage licence from the county on Valentine’s Day that year.  That was all we did, all we could afford to do, since all of our money at the time was going to the wedding the next weekend.   Since that time though, we have come up with a few more ways to have a fun date without shelling out a ton of cash, Valentine’s Day or not. 

A fun, inexpensive date can be as close as your local community, recreation or city center.  Our city sponsors concerts all throughout the year (in the summer they are often outdoors) that are usually free or nearly free.  There are also plays and sometimes even a ballet.  The local senior center here in Englewood also shows movies for $1 and sells popcorn for only 25 cents.  Of course, they aren’t showing what’s currently in the theater, but it’s still a night out with your honey! 

Additionally, look for local/community museums.  They are usually free or very low cost as well.  Like the Littleton Historical Museum.  It’s free, and during the summer they have real animals (a pair of oxen!) as well as volunteers in period costume working the farm and blacksmith shop there and answering all kinds of questions to visitors.  And you can bring a picnic lunch! 

For the outdoor inclined (like most of us here in Colorado), you can step outside by checking out the different nature centers in your county and the surrounding counties as well.  There are often guided moonlit hikes, star mapping, snowshoeing/cross country skiing treks, and a lot more.  One center I know of is hosting a nature hike followed by an activity called The Mating Game (based on the 70’s game show The Dating Game) this Saturday!  Lots of these centers have email/snail mail newsletters that they send out regularly so you can keep up to date on their events.  Usually the events are free or have a minimal cost. 

*On a separate note, nature centers have tons of great activities for kiddos during the day.  They are usually broken up by age and a lot of fun!

One way we like to save money when going out to eat is splitting a meal.  Meals at most restaurants are so big, that really, if you share you’ll both still be full.  Especially if you get an appetizer or dessert!  We’ve often split a burger at Red Robin and been totally stuffed! 

We will also go to inexpensive places and find the most secluded corner we can to make it special for the two of us.  We love going to Wahoos Fish Taco.  It’s cheap but tasty (and healthy) and we can make it special. 

Once, my parents and their best friends had a particularly lean February.  For Valentine’s Day the wives took their husbands out for a romantic dinner at…  Taco Bell.  Unbeknown to the guys, the women had brought their own white table cloth, vase with flowers, cloth napkins, the works.  They sent the husbands off to order and quickly set it all up.  The guys returned with tacos in hand to their own romantic dinner, complete with candle sticks and funny stares from the other passing customers and employees.  :)  Mind you, they had to get a baby sitter for the five (between both families) of us kids.  So they made a night of it.  And it makes a great memory, one which they still laugh about.

My creative cohorts have posted some other Thrifty ideas to share (in the recent past some good cheap/free babysitting ideas and other fun date ideas).  Be sure to check their blogs again this week for more:  Katie Jean, Tracy & Genny.

One last thing… if you are tempted to skip the sitter and make your Valentine’s (or any other night out) a family affair, check out these deals.

KIDS EAT FREE! (or nearly free)
(Note that the below are from a list I acquired last year, and I did not verify if they are still offered – so you should probably call ahead to verify)

Sunday:
• LoDos – $1.99
• Lansdowne Arms – after 4 pm
• La Mesa Mexican Restaurant
• Sunset Grill
• Jose Pepper’s Authentic Mexican Food
• Chartroose Caboose
• Big D’s BBQ (Parker)

Monday:
• Brothers BBQ
• Buffalo Wild Wings – $0.99 – 5-8 pm
• C.B. & Potts
• CiCi’s Pizza
• Chartroose Caboose – after 5pm
• Cinzetti’s – 5-9 pm
• Fuddruckers – $0.99 – 5-9 pm
• Gunther Toody’s
• Rio Grande
• TGI Fridays
• Big D’s BBQ (Parker)
• Bono’s BBQ

Tuesday:
• 3 Margaritas
• Bennigans
• Black Eyed Pea – after 5pm
• Brothers BBQ
• Champps
• Chick-Fil-A
• Cinzetti’s – 5-9 pm
• Denny’s – 4-10pm
• Fazolli’s – $0.99 – 5-8pm
• Fuddruckers – $0.99 – 5-9 pm
• Lone Star Steakhouse
• Perkins
• Pizza Street
• Planet Subs – after 4pm
• Ponderosa Steak House – after 4pm
• Salty Iguana Mexican Restaurant
• Big D’s BBQ (Parker)
• Treo (& ½ price hamburgers)

Wednesday:
• Applebees – $0.99
• Old Chicago
• Rainforest Café – after 5pm
• Zarda BBQ
• Big D’s BBQ (Parker)

Thursday:
• Buffalo Wild Wings
• C.B. & Potts – $1.00
• Big D’s BBQ (Parker)

Saturday:
• Lone Star Steakhouse – 11 – 4pm
• LoDo’s – $1.99

EVERYDAY KIDS EAT FREE:
• IHOP – $0.99 – 3-9pm
• O’Charley’s Restaurant
• Old Spaghetti Factory (with coupon from Kids Pages Magazine)

A couple of useful links:
http://colorado-for-free.com (thanks to Rach for this one)
Littleton Historical Museum
Lookout Mountain Nature Center

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