Sunday, March 20, 2011

Adventures in Eating In

March has had me thinking about budgeting and how to cut back, especially in the area of eating out. Coupons have helped, and we have been eating at less expensive places. But I have also been asking myself the reasons behind my decision to eat out. After contemplating it, here are my main reasons:

1) Convenience- This is mostly a weekend urge, when I just want us both to be able to relax. No one has to buy ingredients, prepare dinner, or do dishes.

2) Sometimes I crave things that are difficult to duplicate exactly at home, like ethnic food.

So this weekend, instead of eating out, we made two meals at home that resembled food we would normally buy at a restaurant. The gourmet burgers we made with buns from the Grateful Bread bakery, grass-fed ground beef, green goddress dressing and Irish cheddar leftover from our party, and caramelized onions. Best burger I have ever made at home.

Total approximate cost for two burgers: $4.50, or $2.25 each. Obviously, a fraction of the price of eating out. Total prep time: 1 1/2 hours. (Caramelizing the onions was a very long process...)

Saturday, I tried to make Burmese food at home, similar to what we might have gotten at Burma Superstar in the Bay area. Now, I simplified the cooking process for my beloved chicken curry noodles by using leftover caramelized onions and omitting the hard-boiled egg and raw onion. The cooking time was still about 1 1/2 hours, and taste was similar but not identical. Cost per serving: about $2.

Cheap it may be, but I gotta say, this is one complicated dish, traditionally simmered until thick and then served with crushed chilies, lemon wedges, cilantro, raw onions, hard-cooked egg, and caramelized onions. Making it at home is a lot of work. I wouldn't mind paying for just to have someone else do it all for me. But I would have to drive to San Francisco, so that is quite a lot of time and expense unless I was already there.

We will continue our experiments in eating in and see what we come up with. It's always an adventure. And I really like not having to pay a tip.


  1. I knew about the burgers, but had no idea Burmese food could be so economical. Nice:)


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