During the month of March, we’ve been talking about cooking to save money. I’ve posted:
- Low-Cost Menu + Grocery List
- 63 Budget Friendly Meals, Meal Stretchers and Desserts
- 5 Keys to Saving Money with a Pantry/Freezer Challenge
Today, we’re going to talk about saving money by cooking restaurant-style meals at home. This type of meal may cost a bit more than your weeknight fare, but will come in much lower than taking the family out to eat. Next week I’ll post a big list of easy restaurant style recipes. Until then, here are a few tips to making it special:
Buy fresh herbs, if the recipe calls for them. The difference in taste is worth the splurge. Adding fresh basil to a pasta dish transforms it.
Serve good bread, especially with Italian meals. You can buy it from the bakery or make your own. Try Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking I’ve made this bread before and it is delicious! It’s amazing what you can do with flour and water.
Make your own Seasoned Olive Oil for dipping your bread. This is an easy thing to do and it works to make the meal special.
Serve a big salad, with all the fixings. Depending on your main dish, try all the normal salad veggies, plus croutons, crisp tortilla strips, nuts, pine nuts, banana peppers, fresh fruit or dried, or anything else that sounds good.
If you’re having Mexican, don’t forget the chips and salsa. Serve several varieties. Add guacamole for more fun.
Buy frozen egg rolls or potstickers to round out an Asian meal. Break out the chopsticks. Don’t forget the fortune cookies!
Disclosure: The link to the cookbook above is an affiliate link. If you buy, I’ll make a small bit of money, possibly enough to buy a candy bar. That’s a great cookbook and I think you’ll enjoy it. I often check cookbooks out from the library before investing in them. You might like to do the same.
I love Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day! We all love the seasoned oil with bread as a snack or with pasta dishes. We use that recipe to make pizza dough too. Also, I keep little herb pots in my kitchen window for the fresh herbs. It makes a huge difference in flavor and the pots were the same price as one serving of fresh would be otherwise.
Sherri, do the herbs get enough sun and warmth to grow well? Even basil? I may have to try that.
My basil lasts a few months and then dies off but since it is so cheap to replace plants, I don’t hesitate. It costs the same amount as one package at my local grocery to buy the plant.
I’m going to look for some plants for my window sill. I think I saw some in Meijer a few weeks ago. Where do you buy yours?
These are fabulous tips. We used to eat out for at least one weekend meal quite often. When I was working that was no big deal. Now that I’m not working, it’s very seldom that we have the opportunity to eat out, we just can’t justify the expense. I have been doing themed meals on the weekends so that the kids still have the feel of “going out” without breaking the bank. The little touches make all the difference in the world! Great post!!
This has nothing to do with food, but for y’all, I would say ” Go Kats” but for those of us farther north I have to say, ” Go Dogs”.
We’re cheering on Butler too! What a fun game that was!