cheapcolumbusfamily

I’ve been working on this idea in my head for a while, keeping a mental list just for personal use, really. Once it started to come together, I decided I’d share it as a blog post because maybe it would help someone else who is staring into space during nap time, wondering what to have for dinner! Here we are, a family of four, and these kids actually eat real food now – so if we go to a restaurant, it’s usually not what I would call “cheap”. Plus, taking small kids to a restaurant is always a gamble – you never know how they’re going to act! Eric and I find when we do go out to eat, we scarf our food down so fast now, hoping to finish before any toddler meltdowns! Sometimes it feels hardly worth it to eat out.

BUT there are those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking! Just naturally, I was starting to categorize bargain meals by days of the week so that if I had “one of those days” I could default to an eating out option that wasn’t going to cost us a fortune. That’s how this post began . . . but, then I decided to include a fun (and cheap) activity for each night as well! I hope you bookmark this one and pull it up the next time the witching hour hits!

Monday:

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Food: One of my all time favorites is BOGO tacos al pastor at Los Gauchos Taqueria. It’s so good even Food Network named them one of the Top 5 Tacos in America! The tacos are $1.50 each and let me just do the math for you, on Mondays, you can get two for $1.50! There are two sit-down restaurants, one at 5221 Godown Rd. and one at 1376 Cherry Bottom Rd. (For the most authentic experience, try their taco truck at 461 Commerce Sq., off of Sullivant Ave.) This special starts at 4:00 PM at the Godown Rd. location and is good all day at Cherry Bottom Rd. The taco truck is open from 4:00 PM – 12:00 PM. It can get busy (because this is an amazing deal on an amazing taco!) so I would suggest arriving on the earlier or later side of meal times.

Activity: For a Monday night out, I suggest tacos al pastor at the Godown Rd. location and then rounding out the evening with ice cream at Graeters on Bethel Rd. and time to play at their indoor play area!

Los Gauchos Taqueria, 5221 Godown Rd, Columbus, OH, 43235,  614-538-0211

Graeter’s Ice Cream, 2555 Bethel Rd., Columbus, OH 43220, 614-422-7622


Tuesday:

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Food and Activity: Movie Night happens on Tuesdays at Firefly American Bistro! Here your dinner and evening activity are all rolled into one! The restaurant has a side room with tables where from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM they show a kids movie while you eat your dinner. Kids are free to get up and move around and can sit on the floor at the front to watch the movie. Free popcorn is served and kids meals are 1/2 price that night! For the adults, flatbread pizzas and sandwiches range from $10-$13, though no one’s saying you can’t order steak since, hopefully, your kids will be occupied enough for you to slow down and enjoy your meal (fingers crossed)! 😉

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Firefly American Bistro, 5525 New Albany Rd. West, New Albany, OH 43054, 614-741-7151


Wednesday:

Food: Burgers are $4 at Brazenhead Irish Pub on Wednesdays and that includes one side! I’ve only been to the one in Grandview, but they have a great patio, so take advantage of that while we still have some warm nights ahead! (They also have $4 fish sandwiches on Tuesdays!)

Activity: After dinner, head over to Grandview Library for family story time from 6:30 PM – 7:00 PM (starts 9/7/16). Grandview Library has a fun area for the kids to play in that includes a train table, a doll house and Duplo blocks!

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Brazenhead Irish Pub, 1027 W. 5th Ave., Columbus, OH 43212, 614-737-3738 or 56 N. High St., Dublin, OH 43017, 614-792-3738

Grandview Library, 1685 W 1st Ave, Columbus, OH 43212, 614-486-2951


Thursday:

Food: This one isn’t necessarily JUST for Thursday nights! I have been known to become the biggest sports fan when Papa Johns gives 50% off large pizzas the day after the Columbus Crew SC wins or the Columbus Blue Jackets score two goals! 😉 If I really don’t feel like cooking, I check the schedule, crossing my fingers for a win the day before. It’s true. Specifically for Thursday, the Crew plays on the following Wednesdays: 8/24/16 (that’s this week, BTW) and 9/28/16, which means if they win those games, Thursday’s large pizza will be half off! (See their full schedule here.) This deal is only good on online orders and is good for 50% off the regular price of any large pizza. You must use the code “WIN.” (Stay tuned this winter when Papa Johns gives 50% off all large pizzas when the Blue Jackets score 2 goals! Code is JACKETS50.)

Activity: We live near the Papa John’s in Grandview, so when we want to get out of the house, we pick up a pizza and take it to Wyman Woods Park! Eating pizza in the park is fun, but once it gets cold, consider following pizza night up with a trip to the Columbus Museum of Art. The museum stays open until 9:00 PM on Thursday nights and the price is “pay what you want” from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM! The kids can hang out in the Wonder Room, doing puzzles and creating their own masterpieces with the many materials available in the room!

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Papa Johns – find your nearest location here.

Columbus Museum of Art, 480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215, 614-221-6801


Friday:

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Food and Activity: Okay, tuck this one away because this deal is actually good EVERY night! But we commonly do it on Fridays. I think Friday night is pizza night for like 95% of families in America, so here’s the deal: Large Pizzas with two toppings are just $7.99 after 4:00 PM at the Giant Eagle Market District in Grandview Yard. We make a whole night of this by using the Little Shoppers Treat Card to get an apple and/or slice of cheese while the kids wait for the pizza to be ready and then after we eat the pizza in the seating area or on the patio, we use the same card to get a cookie for dessert. After dinner, we usually have to pick up a few grocery items while the kids eat their cookies, riding around in a car cart. And that my friend, is the new Friday night! 😉

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Grandview Yard Market District, 840 W 3rd Avenue, Columbus, OH 43212, 614-294-2186


Saturday:

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Food: Another favorite right here: the pancake breakfast at the Hills Market! This is a real deal! From 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM you can get three pancakes, sausage links, plus Crimson Cup coffee for $5! (Hills Market, if you’re reading PLEASE bring this back to the downtown location!!) You can add chocolate chips or blueberries for no charge and juice is available for purchase for the kids. Mimosas and Bloody Marys are available for $5. (This $5 pancake brunch also happens on Sundays from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM!)

Activity: After breakfast, head down Hard Rd. to the Northwest Library to visit Story Garden, where many of your kid’s favorite stories are depicted by 3-D characters on the walls of the children’s department at this Worthington Libraries branch. The library has programs for kids on the 2nd and 3rd Saturdays of each month. Check out their calendar of programs here.

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The Hills Market Worthington, 7860 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, OH 43235, 614-846-3220.

Northwest Library, Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road, Columbus, OH 43235, 614-807-2626


Sunday:

Food: Kids eat free every Sunday at The Crest Gastropub! On the 2nd Sunday of the month, they host Kids Day with a special theme complete with crafts and/or activities. This is the only place on the list I haven’t been to yet, but it has been on my mental list for some time! Past activity times have included learning about monarchs, planting seeds and making crafts with recycled craft materials!

Activity: If it doesn’t happen to be the 2nd Sunday and you’re looking for something to do afterward, you’re not far from Whetstone Park of Roses or this playground within Whetstone Park!

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The Crest Gastropub, 2855 Indianola Ave., Columbus, OH 43202, 614-261-7128

Whestone Park, 3923 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43214


There! Now I have my mental list all typed up and easily accessible for when I don’t feel like making dinner! Tell me, what’s on your mental list for a cheap night out with the kids?

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ICYMI: Exploring Downtown Powell with Kids

Written by Julie Miller