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 tried it. As a result, there is a new format for BellyGrowling in this post. I will 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.
This week, my belly was growling for crabcakes. I have never cooked crabcakes and rarely get them when we are out because they are so expensive! But, I do love them. I searched online for a recipe and found about 4,000 of them! Yikes! I narrowed my search by limiting it to recipes that baked the crabcakes and then eventually settled on my trusted recipe source, Cooking Light.
Here is the recipe on which I based my crabcakes: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/panko-crusted-crab-cake-bites-with-roasted-pepper-chive-aioli
Ingredients I had at home:
Red pepper – a substitute for the celery
Dill – a substitute for the chives
Crushed Puffins cereal – a gluten-free substitute for the panko
Hot sauce – omitted
Ingredients I needed to buy:
Cooked crab -- $10.99
Corn on the cob (side dish) -- $3
As you see above, I made a few substitutions in the recipe in order to not purchase new items. The biggest change I made was that I did not "coat" the crabcakes in panko as suggested in step 3 of the recipe.
Total cost: $13.99
Full disclosure: The real cost may actually be $27.99 depending on how you look at things. As I was taking the baking pan out of the oven for the second batch of crabcakes, the pan shattered as I placed it on the stovetop. Fortunately, 8 crabcakes were already cooked and there were only 4 in this batch. I am not one to collect kitchenware , so I debated getting a new one, trying to make due with the disposable aluminum pans, or going without. I decided to get a new one which cost me $14.99.
The last time I got crabcakes, the meal included 2 crabcakes, potatoes, and a vegetable and cost $29. And, that does not include the cost of meals for Jeremy and Joshua. Let's very conservatively add in another $45 for their meals which brings the total food bill to $74. Add tip and tax (no beverages, appetizers, dessert), and the total restaurant bill is around $100.
TOTAL SAVINGS: $87 (or maybe $72 depending on how you count the baking dish expense)
After the baking dish shattering incident and spending lots of time cleaning it up, we decided that a pizza was in order. I wrapped up the non-glass crabcakes and kept them in the fridge until the next day. I'm not sure if this had an impact on the results.
Overall, Jeremy and I enjoyed the crabcakes. I felt they were a bit soggy, but I think a lot of this was because they sat in the fridge for a day. Joshua tried them, but did not like them. To be fair, he really has never like crabcakes. I would like to try this recipe again, hopefully with less drama and more crispiness!