Last week I went over my favourite ways to save money eating out. This week I hope to show you how easy it is to make restaurant meals at home, for cheap! There’s something satisfying about creating a meal that tastes really similar to your favourite dish at a local restaurant. It costs way less, the quantity is much larger and well, it tastes great!

One of my favourite recipes that I make is a copy cat recipe for Panera Bread’s (an American chain) Broccoli & Cheddar soup.

  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or half & half
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 – 3 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)

Steam broccoli until tender, about six minutes. Chop finely. Set aside. In a large saucepan combine broth and milk. Slowly whisk in flour. Cook over medium to medium high heat stirring frequently. Cook until it starts to thicken but not too thick. I usually do it until it just starts to boil. Add chopped broccoli. Reduce heat to med low. Continue to cook about 5 minutes. Add cheese stir until cheese melts. Serve. If using bacon sprinkle each bowl with a little.

Another way I like to create restaurant meals is by making my own pizza! By the time you finish ordering your take out pizza, the cost can be pretty pricey. What I like to do is make up the dough, divide it into two, make one entire pizza then freeze the other half of the dough to have on hand for the next pizza.

 You can also find many copy-cat restaurant recipes online. I recently searched for Olive Garden recipes, and I was amazed at how many recipes I found. I really like Top Secret Recipes (most of the recipes are free) and Food.com (all of the recipes are free) for finding all sorts of restaurant meals. On Food.com I found Red Lobster’s Cheese Biscuits, IHOP pancakes, and a Vancouver Greek Restaurant Tzatziki!

 Are there any restaurant meals you make at home? Share your recipes and ideas!

 Originally published in 2009