Amidst our busy lifestyles, it has become almost habitual to splurge on restaurant food when we get hungry. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends as much as $3,008 on restaurant meals and takeout every year, a huge amount considering that many Americans are still trying to recover from the recession. Budgeting has become a way of life with a category assigned solely to food being of utmost importance. Eating out is a luxury we often allow ourselves to continue to enjoy despite financial constraints. If you want to save money, however, minimize your visits to restaurants and take outs and attempt to replicate your favorite dishes at home instead. The following guideline will help you to make the best possible version of your favorite restaurant dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Do an online search
Whether you are craving Rattlesnake Bites from Texas Roadhouse or a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell, chances are you will find the recipes on the internet. The most popular items from major chains often have recipes posted online, either by the restaurant itself or ingenious diners who were industrious enough to reverse-engineer it. When it comes to extremely popular menu items you may come across a few different copycat recipes on the net. If this is the case and you battle to pick one, read the reviews as they are bound to be a clear indication of whether the recipe is a fit or a fail.
Taste the dish and make notes
Even the most frugal of individuals will succumb to temptation from time to time and eat at a restaurant or get take out. If you come across something you really enjoy such as a Whiskey Burger from Dierk’s Whiskey Row, which is the brainchild of restauranteur Ryan Hibbert, or a Shrimp Scampi from Cheesecake Factory, take note of what you taste. Jot down as much detail of the dish as you can, identifying any dominant flavors and ingredients. The protein is usually the easiest to identify, followed by the carbs. Identifying individual components such as sauces and glazes can help you compile the dish bit by bit in the comfort of your own kitchen. Taking photos of the restaurant dish can also help you identify certain components when you get home.
Don’t expect a 100% match
Billion-dollar chains wouldn’t be as successful as they are if their recipes were easy to figure out. Many dishes that come across as simple, such as KFC chicken, contain a secret ingredient or two that might be virtually impossible to identify. Don’t fret if you can’t get your copy-cat dish to taste exactly like the restaurant version. You should be happy with achieving a 90% match, with anything close to the original being an absolute bonus. The amount of money you are saving cooking at home should compensate for the small differences you may end up detecting between your dish and the one you are trying to replicate.
Saving a couple of dollars at a time when opting for a home-cooked meal might not seem like much but it does add up over time. While it may be frustrating at first trying to perfect your recipes you will soon develop a sensitive palate and the task at hand will become increasingly less difficult. After tinkering in the kitchen long enough you might even find yourself having a knack for cooking to the extent where you will never buy another takeout meal again.