In December 2015, after an embarrassing week of dining out, I wrote a post about frugal ways to spend less when dining out. One thought I had in that post was to try making at home the dish one of us was craving from a restaurant. Well, 3 months later (better late than never), I began doing it. This post is our second in the new BellyGrowling series. I attempt to make the dish that one of us wanted from the restaurant, describe the experience, estimate the money saved, and honestly assess the experiment.
I was skimming through the recipe I was to use that night and realized: no one in our house is going to like this! I just hate when that happens, but I could have looked at the recipe sooner! So, there I am loaded up with eggplant and cheese (you see why I thought I would like the recipe) and nothing to do.
Ah, but there was one thing I could do. My Belly was Growling for eggplant parmesan. Something for which I had been (am always) craving but had not been willing to spend the money to buy at a restaurant. Fortunately, many of the ingredients in the ditched recipe were the same as the eggplant parmesan and I had all of the other ingredients, except one.
Fontina cheese $3.53
Mozzarella cheese, had some in freezer, no cost
Basil-pantry staple, no cost
Garlic-pantry staple, no cost
Marinara $1.99 x 2 = $3.98
Broccoli (side dish) $2.50
TOTAL COST: $17.48
Ingredients NOT used
Breadcrumbs and Egg—Although I do baked the eggplant, I do not bread the eggplant. I've not noticed any difference in taste and it save a lot of time and effort.
Parmesan cheese—I know this sounds weird for eggplant PARMESAN, but it was the only ingredient I did not have and I was NOT making a special trip to the grocery store for it!
I checked out the cost of eggplant parmesan at the two places we would likely get it. Both are VERY casual family restaurants and the price for one serving of eggplant parmesan (which included a small salad) ranged from $15.95 to $18.95. To calculate a total bill, let's assume that Joshua and I would have shared the entrée and Jeremy would have spent $22 (he usually get seafood) on his entrée. Without adding any drinks, tax, or tip the bill is now $37.50 to $40.50. So realistically, we are talking at least a $55 bill.
TOTAL SAVINGS: $37.52
This is my tried and true, and delicious recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/eggplant-parmesan
As I mentioned above, the only thing I do differently from the recipe is that I do not bread the eggplant or use the egg. Otherwise, I follow it to the letter!
Yum! Yum! As Joshua says. We all really enjoyed one of my favorite comfort foods. The ooey, gooey cheesy goodness. The long, saucy spaghetti noodles. The marinara-plastered faces. What is not to love. And, I saved almost $40! That makes anything taste better!