One of our biggest monthly expenses outside of regular household bills is eating out. I vow every month not to spend so much on eating out at restaurants, but then I get tired, stressed, busy, etc. and always end up getting take out or running in for a “cheap” meal at a local restaurant. With a family of 8, even eating “cheap” ends up being expensive!
Other than the convenience factor, the main reason we eat out is because we are wanting a particular dish that a restaurant offers. I’m working on learning to prepare similar meals at home so that we can try to really start putting that money into savings. Below are some of my favorite restaurant meals, with links to copycat recipes that can be prepared at home.
1. Hibachi Style Fried Rice
I love me some fried rice. I mean, LOVE it! There is a Japanese place near my house that makes the best rice, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they add in bacon. Bacon makes everything tasty! Earlier this year, I decided to try and come up with my own version of their rice, and I came pretty darn close to it. It can be a bit time consuming if you’re trying to prepare a really large amount, but it’s delicious and super cheap compared to eating out! Check out my recipe here —-> Homemade Fried Rice
2. Chipotle. Anything from Chipotle!
My husband and I love Chiptole’s burritos and salads, but my kids don’t really care for their food. We usually stop in during the day when the kids are at school, but just lunch for the two of us can easily cost $20. The website Chipotle Fan has some great Chipotle style recipes, although I have yet to try them out. It’s on the list for this month, because those burritos sure are tasty!
3. Whole Foods deli
I know Whole Foods isn’t a restaurant, but I love grabbing lunch from their deli counter. Their caesar pasta salad is to die for, and they have a roasted corn salad that is amazing. I played around with the corn salad for a few hours and came up with an inexpensive alternative that tastes almost exactly like it! Find my recipe version here —-> Roasted Corn Salad (WF Copycat)
4. Egg Drop Soup
Another Asian style dish, I know, but I am a big fan of Asian cuisine! Not that yellow greasy egg drop soup, but the kind that’s made with chicken broth and is much healthier. My favorite Chinese restaurant offers a delicious, healthier version, complete with peas, carrots, mushrooms, and mini tofu cubes. This recipe from AllRecipes.com comes pretty close, although it doesn’t have the added veggies. I like to add in a bit of white pepper as well, to give it a little bit of spice.
5. Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Okay, I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of Red Lobster. I find their food to be fairly bland, and way overpriced for the portions you receive. However, their biscuits are delicious! This recipe from AllRecipes.com seems to be a pretty close copy, which means I can indulge at home without spending money on food that I really don’t care for!
6. Fettuccine Alfredo
This cheesy pasta dish is delicious at almost every Italian restaurant, but the jarred sauce sold in stores just doesn’t even begin to compare. This recipe is SO easy to make at home, with only a few ingredients to buy. Keep in mind though, once you realize how fattening it is, you might not be so keen on eating it in the future! Be sure to have a salad first, so that you can keep your portion sizes smaller. I like to add in just a bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh ground black pepper, and top it off with diced roma tomatoes!
7. Loaded Baked Potato Soup from O’Charley’s
This soup is creamy and delicious, and Food.com has a great copycat recipe that you can make at home. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough!
8. Cajun Jambalaya Pasta from Cheesecake Factory
This pasta dish is one of my husband’s favorite meals to eat out. I found this recipe on Tastebook recently and can’t wait to share it with him. It’s spicy and rich, with plenty of shrimp, chicken, and peppers to pair with the pasta.
9. Wing Stop Lemon Pepper Wings
When I was living in San Antonio, I fell in love with Wing Stop’s lemon pepper wings. Alright, I was pregnant at the time, so everything tasted wonderful, but they really are delicious wings! When we moved to our new house three years ago, I was delighted to see that there was a Wing Stop less than a mile away. Unfortunately, taking a family of 8 to eat wings can quickly cost over $60, so we don’t go there too often. I found this recipe from Uncommon Censor recently and can’t wait to try it out!
10. Chik-Fil-A Chicken Nuggets
I love Chik-Fil-A’s nuggets (and chicken minis!) but don’t eat there very often anymore, for several reasons which I won’t get into here. This recipe from Frieda Loves Bread comes pretty close, although I would definitely recommend using peanut oil instead of canola, as there is a big difference in taste. That, and we all know that CFA uses peanut oil for their chicken. 🙂
I recently cooked up another delicious dish at home, be sure to check out my creamy restaurant style macaroni and cheese!
Does your family spend more than you would like on eating out? Have you ever tried to make your favorite restaurant meals at home?Keep on saving! :o)
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