My brother-in-law and his girlfriend are coming to visit us this weekend! We’re really excited to spend time together.
In an effort to save money, we’ll be eating our dinners at home, rather than at a restaurant. We’ll probably grab a lunch or two somewhere in town, though.
Anyway, I don’t want to look like a total cheap-o when it comes to food, so I’m whipping out a restaurant-esque menu for our guests. I’ve selected a few dishes that I think will be delicious and comparable to what we’d find in a restaurant.
That is, comparable in taste, not cost.
Here’s what Cook Kacie will be whipping up, with a cost break-down of each dish. I’ve also included the cost of a similar menu item at a national chain restaurant:
Dinner # 1
- Angel hair pasta ($1 for whole box) in light garlic-y buttery sauce ($0.20 ?) with fresh tomatoes (~ $0.50 worth) and grated Parmesan & Romano cheese ($0.25 worth)
- Baked coconut shrimp ($6 for four servings and four pieces each) with choice of pina colada dipping sauce ($1) or mango chutney (included with shrimp)
- Side salad of fresh spinach, iceberg lettuce salad mix, carrots, green peppers, cucumber, tomatoes ($6.78 for ALL salad ingredients, but probably using $1.50 worth for this salad)
Total: $10.45 or $2.61 per person
A similar dinner at a restaurant
From Red Lobster: Parrot Bay coconut shrimp (on appetizer menu) $7.99 (I don’t think 16 pieces of shrimp come with this…probably more like 8. Does anyone know? For now, I’m going to say we’d need two orders of this) $15.98
There’s no plain angel hair pasta at Red Lobster. So, I’ll look at the menu at Olive Garden. They don’t have what I’m serving either, so I’m picking the closest thing (I think). What I’m preparing is most similar to their fettuccine alfredo (both dishes have a long noodle and a sauce…it’s a stretch but go with me on this). One serving of fettuccine alfredo costs $10.95 and comes with salad and breadsticks. Multiply that by four servings, and that’s $43.80.
Let’s say we all drink water ($0). The total for this meal would be $59.78 before tax & tip. A 20-percent tip is $12. Seven percent sales tax is $4.18. Total price: $75.96. Divide that by four people, and that’s $18.99 each.
Dinner # 2
- Alice Springs chicken (chicken breasts marinated in honey/Dijon mustard sauce, pan-seared and then baked with sauted onions and peppers, with cooked turkey bacon and co-jack cheese on top) $5.05
- Stuffed mushrooms $1.95
- Cooked broccoli $0.89
Total: $7.89 or $1.97 per person
A similar meal at Outback Steakhouse
Bushman ‘Shrooms $6.99 (not quite the mushrooms I’ll be making, but these are the only mushrooms on their appetizer menu). I don’t know if this makes the full half-pound of mushrooms I’ll be making.
Alice Springs chicken $13.79 and comes with fries x4 for four servings = $55.16
Total pre-tip/pre-tax: $62.15. Tip would be $12.40, and tax would be $4.35. Final total: $78.90, or $19.73 each.
Dinner # 3
Make your own tacos using these ingredients: Warmed tortillas ($0.89), black beans ($0.60), ground beef ($3 for about 1.25 lb.) cooked with taco seasoning ($0.29), lettuce (about $0.25 worth), diced tomato ($0.25 worth), green peppers ($0.50 worth), onion ($0.20), salsa ($0.50), cheese ($0.50), sour cream ($0.50)
Total: $7.48 or $1.87 per person
Mad Mex grilled steak tacos: $12 x 4 servings = $48
Now, this isn’t a totally fair comparison. I’m using ground beef; those tacos would have steak. But still.
Total: $48. Tip: $9.60. Tax: $3.36. Final total: $60.96 or $15.24 per person.
To cook all three dinners at home, it will cost $25.82 in ingredients to feed four adults. If we went out and ate similar food, it would cost $215.82 total. Oh hi, that’s like 8 TIMES the amount it would cost to make at home.
My homemade dinners will cost less than the tip at a restaurant would cost! Isn’t that crazy?
And, I’m pretty sure these dishes will be delish. I’m getting to be a fairly good cook, and I really enjoy preparing tasty meals.