When I was a child, we ate out every single friday night, and maybe once on weekends (with extended family or family friends). My mother did all the cooking for the week on sunday afternoon. When my Dad, sister and I got home, it was our job to reheat the food, make a salad or prepare some other vegetable, and start the rice cooker. My mother wasn't a particularly good cook and hated doing it, so every friday night we went out, it was her break and a chance to eat some tasty well prepared food. As a family, we loved this ritual. As soon as my Dad picked us up friday, the debate on where to eat would start.
Fast forward to today...we have 3 kids, and my DS1 has food allergies, and right now I'm not working. We eat out maybe once a month, if that. Every time we do, I pay the bill and think "yikes, that is X % of my monthly grocery budget". I am wondering whether I should try to budget some funds for eating out more regularly/often. My kids really enjoy food, but they also enjoy special outings, new toys, new clothes, books, DVDs, etc. I mean, a good book, or legos, museum membership, etc. can be enjoyed over and over. A meal is over pretty quickly.
So I am interested in hearing what CHers think. Do you take your kids out to eat regularly? Why or why not? If you don't have kids, do you think eating out as a child had value? Or would you rather have had more toys/piano lessons/space camp/etc.? Thank you for sharing.