Recipes to Avoid Eating Out
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30 Recipes for Restaurant-Quality Meals at Home

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Recipes to Avoid Eating Out
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DIY and Save Big

Enjoying great food and service at restaurants — without dishes to clean afterwards — is always a treat, but many of your favorite dishes can be cheaply and easily made in your kitchen. Learning how to inexpensively prepare high-end restaurant classics and takeout staples at home can help you save a bundle when times are tight and treat yourself when you're stuck at home.

Related: 24 Healthy Recipes You'd Never Know Were Made With Frozen Produce

Steak Frites
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Steak Frites

A French bistro staple, steak frites is a meal that many enjoy but few make at home. There aren't many ingredients, making this meal relatively easy to prepare even for novice cooks. The only real expense is the meat itself, with potatoes and seasonings adding up to just a few dollars. This recipe comes in handy for preparing a special-occasion dinner instead of going out. Each bite will conjure a romantic trip to Paris you can savor on the cheap.

Recipe: Food Network

Sushi
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Sushi

The preparation of sushi is an art form, and it can cost a pretty penny to have it done for you at the best sushi restaurants. Making sushi at home is actually fun, easy, and inexpensive. It can be a creative activity for the whole family, and it may turn into one of your favorite cheap meals. Using cooked fish and veggies is safe, and if using raw fish, be sure to shop at a reputable fishmonger and look for sushi-grade seafood.

Recipe: Food

Lamb Chops
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Lamb Chops

This classic dish often commands one of the highest prices on any menu. While still not a bargain cut, these chops have a much more manageable price when prepared at home. 

Recipe: Taste of Home

Lobster Bisque
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Lobster Bisque

As with most soups, beginning with a flavorful broth is key — and time consuming. The labor involved translates into a big-ticket price at seafood restaurants, while a homemade version is more of an investment of time than of money. Using the shells of the lobster to make the base creates the most flavor for the money by using all possible parts. 

Recipe: Immaculate Bites

Dumplings
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Dumplings

Many people have never considered making dumplings at home, even though ready-made dumpling wrappers are sold for just a few dollars at most grocery stores. With just a spoonful of filling in each one, the cost of dumplings is very low and can mimic what you'd get in a great Chinese restaurant. The DIY labor that goes into it can be a fun learning experience for family and friends, too. 

Recipe: Food & Wine

Ribs
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Ribs

Tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs take some advance planning but are simple to make at home. Buying full racks from discount stores like Costco make this dish affordable enough to enjoy on a regular basis. Whether they are sauced or dry rubbed, ribs don't have to be a restaurant-only event

Recipe: Inspired Taste

Chicken Tikka Masala
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Chicken Tikka Masala

The quintessential Indian restaurant dish for Americans, chicken tikka masala is surprisingly easy to make at home with everyday ingredients and seasonings you can find at most grocery stores or online. Using a slow cooker makes this meal even more convenient. 

Recipe: Cooking Classy

Osso Bucco
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Osso Buco

This slowly braised dish is made delicious by the layers of flavor that develop through the many stages of cooking humble ingredients. Shanks are typically less pricey cuts, which makes this is an ideal dish to learn to master at home. 

Recipe: Food & Wine

Crab Cakes
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Crab Cakes

Crabs are a specialty seafood item that gets heavily marked up at restaurants. Making crab cakes at home is very low cost. They owe their flavor to humble condiments that are probably already in the fridge, like Worcestershire sauce and mayo.

Recipe: Delish

Lasagna
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Lasagna

A bubbling slice of lasagna is an ultimate form of comfort food, but one slice at an Italian restaurant can equal the cost of an entire dish made at home. Picking up noodles and sauce when they go on sale can bring the overall cost of the dish down even further, making it a major money saver.

Recipe: Cafe Delites

Oysters
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Oysters on the Shell

Even though they're served raw, oysters are expensive at restaurants (especially on Valentine's Day) because they have to be shipped quickly from in-demand regions with limited stocks and require an additional level of skill to prepare. Once you find a good source for fresh oysters, it's just a matter of learning how to shuck them masterfully for them to become an inexpensive treat.

Recipe: Good Housekeeping

Shrimp Fried Rice
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Shrimp Fried Rice

While shrimp dishes can be pricey at restaurants, frozen shrimp are often very inexpensive and easy to throw into recipes to make them more of a meal. Just defrost before tossing them into the recipe. Using leftover rice and frozen veggies from Costco also makes this meal a money saver. 

Recipe: Southern Living

Ramen
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Ramen

Ramen may still be available under a buck at the grocery store, but it has also become one of the hottest menu items around with far more elaborate — and pricier — preparations. Hacking a pack of instant ramen with homemade broth and fresh toppings turns cheap ingredients into a gourmet meal.

Recipe: Real Simple

Tacos
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Pasta
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Pasta

High-quality dried pasta can feed four for a few dollars, and making your own fresh pasta can be even less expensive. When you order pasta (even cheap pasta) at a restaurant, you're paying mostly for the labor rather than the ingredients. Classic spaghetti and meatballs is a cheap, family-friendly meal. 

Recipe: Delish

Pad Thai
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Pad Thai

A takeout favorite, pad Thai is little more than rice noodles with a few veggies, protein, and tangy dressing. Once you make the initial investment in the sauce ingredients, the rest of the dish is made from fridge staples. 

Recipe: Allrecipes

Birthday Cake
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Birthday Cake

Cakes can be pricey when purchased from bakeries, but the ingredients aren't. Even a freshly made box cake that is thoughtfully decorated can be just as festive. Those who want to try their hand at some homemade baking can invest a little more time and energy to customize their own. 

Recipe: Liv For Cake

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich
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Nachos
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Nachos

Even discounted happy hour nachos cost more than the sum of their parts. Homemade nachos are easy to make, and can be loaded with the flavors and proteins of your choice to make them into a surprisingly nutritious and complete meal. Double win.

Recipe: The Kitchn

Wings
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Wings

Many Americans are passionate about wings, be they Buffalo, barbecue, or honey-flavored. Grocery stores often sell just the wings in large, inexpensive packs, which can be crisped up and sauced at home and taste just as delicious as the ones available at your favorite sports bar. Don't forget the veggie sticks and ranch to make them feel authentic.

Recipe: Recipe Tin Eats

Pizza
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Pizza

Homemade dough is best, but even using store-bought dough, making your own pizza at home is much cheaper than eating at a beloved pizza joint or ordering delivery. Plus, score bonus points for turning family pizza night into a creative cooking activity in which everyone gets to choose their own toppings. 

Recipe: King Arthur Flour

Burgers
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Burgers

One of the ultimate American takeout meals, burgers are a staple for many families. Rather than spend money on burgers at restaurants, learn how to make your own ultimate burger by blending different cuts of meats and experimenting with toppings

Recipe: MyRecipes

Fried Chicken
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Beef and Broccoli
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Beef & Broccoli

Ordering Chinese food is an easy way to get dinner on the table. Using a slow cooker to turn favorites like beef and broccoli into convenient and less expensive make-at-home meals is a good habit to adopt. Substitute chicken or tofu to mix things up week to week. 

Recipe: The Recipe Critic

Burritos
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Burritos

With rice and beans and main ingredients, there's no need to pay a lot to enjoy burritos. Add to this equation that almost any leftover ingredient can be repurposed into burrito filling, and it makes even more money-saving sense to make these craveable meals at home instead of seeking out a cheap burrito joint. 

Recipe: The Seasoned Mom

Philly Cheesesteak
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Philly Cheesesteak

It can be intimidating to take on an at-home preparation of a hometown favorite for fear of not getting it quite right. The beautiful thing about investing the effort is that the more you do it, the better you get at it. Loaded with onions and thinly sliced beef, these Philly-favorite sandwiches can be a low-cost lunch or dinner. 

Recipe: Dinner, Then Dessert

Sub Sandwich
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Sub Sandwiches

An overstuffed sub can be a satisfying meal, but when feeding a family, the cost of multiple sandwiches at a deli adds up quickly. Buying deli meats and cheeses from the counter at the grocery store allows for bulk volume that can be used for multiple sandwiches. Add-ins like onions, hots, and mayo also get a lot of mileage beyond the one-time meal. 

Recipe: Taste of Home

Margaritas
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Margaritas

One of the most popular cocktails across the Americas, a good margarita is hard to come by — and usually expensive. Using premium tequila, the average cost to make a margarita from fresh limes and simple syrup is around $2. Another round, anyone? 

Recipe: Liquor.com

Ice Cream Sundae
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Ice Cream Sundae

Going to an ice cream shop and tasting flavors and picking toppings is part of the fun — and also part of the expense. Recreate the fun by creating a sundae bar with a few flavors and toppings so everyone can build their own at a fraction of the price. 

Recipe: The Spruce

Donuts
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Doughnuts

Doughnuts are just morsels of fried dough with a sweet glaze, and with a little patience and practice, they are easy and cheap to make at home. Avoid the steep prices of craft donuts by making your own creations from yeast or cake doughs. 

Recipe: Bless This Mess