Eat at Home-Copy Cat Restaurant Meals

“People copy people they look up to, and good products inspire copycats.” Innocent Mwatsikesimbe

One of the most inspiring books I’ve ever heard about is a book called, “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. The premise of the book is to take ideas from things you enjoy and turn them into your own creation. One of the key rules of “Stealing Like an Artist” is to give full and proper credit to the source of your inspiration. With that, I give to you one of my absolute favorite things to “steal”-restaurant recipes.

If you remember my post about my Top 5 Money Saving Tips from a few weeks back, number 5 was, “Eat at Home”. There’s LOTS of money to be saved by simply staying out of restaurants. That said, sometimes you just crave your favorite restaurant meal. Sticking to a budget and eating at home does not mean you need to totally sacrifice your favorite meals out-you just need to figure out a way to duplicate them at home.

The absolute master of the cloned restaurant recipe is a man by the name of Todd Wilbur. He has written several books on duplicating restaurant recipes, and I’m the proud owner of several of them. To be honest, some of the things he duplicates are just for the sake of it, and in my not-so-humble-opinion, it’s just easier to buy the real deal (Oreo cookies!) than it is to make your own. BUT, if you’re wanting the 9 Layer Dip from TGI Friday’s, Todd’s recipe is the absolute BEST! I’ve made this dip as my contribution to several potluck dinners I’ve been invited to, and it’s rare that I ever bring any leftovers home.

The internet offers a myriad of choices when it comes to duplicating restaurant recipes, as well. Enter the words, “Copycat [insert dish name here] recipe” into your favorite search engine and see what happens! One of the few items I’ll actually eat from Taco Bell is their Cantina Bowl. It’s probably the healthiest item on their menu. Rice, black beans, corn, and avocado in a bowl topped with grilled chicken! I’ll admit I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I still think it’s worth sharing,

So now I challenge you-what are some of your favorite restaurant meals? Do a search in your favorite search engine and find a copycat recipe to fix at home. If you’re feeling adventurous, try fixing it at home. If I feel adventurous, maybe I’ll give some of your faves a try. Either way, please share your results in the comments.

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Sources:

Top Secret Recipes

SheKnows.com

Leftovers – A Cook’s Best Friend

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” Calvin Trillin

Someone in a Facebook group I frequent asked the question, “Do you eat/serve leftovers?” I would have thought the obvious answer is, “but of COURSE” but I was surprised by the number of people turning up their noses at the very thought of serving a meal made up of leftovers. As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk eating a midday meal of leftover spaghetti and it is nothing short of FABULOUS! There’s something about tomato sauce with herbs and spices sitting in the fridge overnight that does something wonderful to the flavor. The meal was good when I fixed it for my family last night but it’s so much better today now that the flavors have had a chance to blend. Yum-O!! Chili is another food that just tastes better when it’s had a chance to sit for a bit.

In addition to the better flavor, serving leftovers is a food budgeter’s best friend. What a waste it would have been to throw away the leftover food after the meal I fixed last night. While I don’t typically eat out at lunchtime, on the days I don’t have something from the previous night’s meal to take to work I usually have a frozen meal for my lunch. On rare occasion I can find them for under $2 in my grocery store but typically they’re usually around $2.50-$3.00 apiece. Since I buy my ground beef in bulk at Sam’s Club, use store brand pasta, and use a store brand can of crushed tomatoes as the base for the sauce, my homemade spaghetti usually costs between $1 and $1.50 per serving. It doesn’t sound like much savings, but over time it definitely adds up! An added bonus is that I know exactly what’s in it.

While I haven’t started doing it regularly yet, once I get better organized I plan on starting to cook in bulk on the weekends to make my weekdays a little easier. I started that process earlier this week by smoking a pork butt I found on sale before the 4th of July holiday. I paid a bit over $13 for this lovely and smoked it on my Big Green Egg for 10 hours. Oh, my HEAVENS was it good! The size of this piece of meat was MUCH too large for my family of 3 to eat at one sitting so after pulling it I portioned it out and put it in freezer bags. That one day of cooking will provide my family with 4 main course meals and save me a TON of time. It can go straight from the freezer to the table in no more time than it will take to reheat it. SCORE!

Pork Butt

So now I must ask you-do you serve leftovers to your family? If not, why? If so, what are some of your favorites? Please let me know in the comments-I’m always looking for new money saving delicious meal ideas!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…