By Melanie Malone

It seems that everywhere you turn, you hear about our country’s economic crisis. Many families are being more careful with their money than ever before.
So, how does a family survive tough economic situations?

In addition the tips presented last month on “Controlling the urge to splurge,” families can confront tough times by learning to focus on relationships and by building relationships by sharing fun times. Basically, look for low cost or no cost fun things to do. 
For example, relax with friends and family. There are many fun things to do that cost little or no money. Play cards or board games. Host a potluck dinner or have a movie night. You can rent a movie or borrow one from a friend or the local library. 
Start a family exercise program. If a gym membership is not in your budget right now, there are still other ways to get fit. Walking, running, hiking, playing basketball, Frisbee, riding bikes and roller skating can all be done with little or no money invested.
Take up a hobby such as knitting, playing an instrument or cooking. Join a volunteer organization or support group of people who share your interests such as a book club or gardening program.
Take advantage of public parks, community centers and libraries.
Look for discounts – restaurants often offer coupons, specials or discount nights. Kids eat free nights are a great way to save when you take the family out to dinner.
Also, look for discount movie theaters. They often have specials such as $1 admission or matinees. 
Attend free concerts, lectures and museums.
For more information on ideas for saving, spending and stretching your budget, contact the Faulkner County Extension Office at 501.329.8344 or email [email protected].

 Budget-friendly dining ideas

Many families are looking for ways to stretch the dollar. Fortunately, there are restaurants throughout the 501 area that serve up good food and family fun without making too big a dent in the wallet. If you’re looking for new options for family nights out, here are some Central Arkansas restaurants that help you spend less and enjoy more. All restaurants included define child as 12 and under, and most deals are “dine-in” only.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
115 Audubon Drive
Beef O’Brady’s promotes a kid-friendly atmosphere with a game room and a trained service staff ready for young’uns.
On Tuesday nights, each regular-price adult meal earns a kid-eats-free meal.
There’s also a $5.99 lunch Monday through Friday.

America 13-50
1020 Garland St.
During the Sunday buffet, kids 3 and under eat free, ages 4-6 for $3.99; and ages 7-12 $5.99. Patrons can leave their business card or fill out a comment card with contact information to receive coupons.
For information, please call 501.327.5050.

1010 Main St.
Kids dine for $5.95, and the menu includes a hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken tenders, chili dogs, spaghetti and meatballs, or a grilled cheese sandwich.
New menu items are available at lunch, including new salads and platters – $5.75 to $9.95.
Per person options on sandwiches and salads available, but Doe’s is a family-style dining experience which means delicious and affordable food, when taking into account the price per person.
For information, please call 501.764.1424.

Lindsey’s BBQ
1101 Mill St.
The kids’ special on Monday night includes chicken strips, barbecue and drumsticks. Fried chicken is a favorite, along with fried fish, and of course, the namesake barbecue. Or try the smoked turkey legs at $5 each, as two or three can feed a family.
Although Dad ‘retired’ and is now a minister, he still makes the sauce and helps smoke the meats. Save room for the homemade fried pies or sweet potato or coconut pie, to name a few. For information, call 501.505.8089.

805 Donaghey Ave.
A Conway favorite for 28 years, Stoby’s offers “Kids Eat Free” on Monday and Tuesday nights.
In addition, the restaurant menu includes the “Kids’ Clubhouse,” served from 5 to 9 p.m., which features a variety of options that youngsters love – from a cheeseburger and fries and spaghetti to a peanut butter n’ jelly sandwich. Prices range from $2.25 to $3.50.
Stoby’s also offers coupons on its website at For information, call 501.327.5447.

Same Ole Joe’s
44 S Broadview St.
On Monday night, the “Balloon Man” entertains kids from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Same Ole Joe’s.
The menu offers yummy sandwiches as well as kid portion pastas for about $2. You can add a $1.99 one-trip salad bar, with fresh fruit, seasonal veggies and pudding.
Everyday special:  Buy one large at regular price and get the second for $9; buy one medium at regular price and get second for $7. For more information, call 501.679.3911.

Old Mill Burgers & BBQ
2837 Hwy. 95
Kids dine half-price from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Not far from Overcup Lake, Old Mill is less than a mile off Interstate 40 at Exit 107.
The children’s menu includes hot dogs, corn dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches plus hamburgers, chicken nuggets and strips. For information, call 501.354.1148.

So, get out of the kitchen and enjoy a meal at one of these family-friendly locations in the 501!