How to “Eat Out” Without Leaving Your Home!

How to Eat Out Without Leaving your Home _ AnythingYouWantBlog.com

I have often found myself longing for the luxury of a nice meal out at a restaurant. The atmosphere, the company, the delicious food (and not having to prepare that food myself) all sound really appealing. But, in my quest to lower my food spending, I now find myself trying to avoid eating out as much as I might be inclined to.

Eating at home doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice though, and I’ve learned a lot of ways to make eating at home feel like dining out but for a fraction of the price. Here are my thoughts on how you can create an “eating out” experience in the comfort of your own home.

  1. Set the table. And eat at it. Skip the TV dinner for the night and actually enjoy a meal at your dinner table (points for eating at a proper dining room table instead of just a kitchen table). Take out some placemats, set the table with water and wine glasses, and even light some candles to create ambiance. Even though you’re at home, you can create a romantic, unique environment that helps take you out of your day-to-day at-home life.
Our beautifully set dinner table, complete with cloth napkins and candles

Our beautifully set dinner table, complete with cloth napkins and candles

  1. Indulge in forbidden foods. I think that part of why I enjoy eating out so much is that I allow myself to eat less healthy foods at restaurants than I cook at home. I am (unfortunately) naturally drawn to unhealthy options (think cheesy, bready, bacony), but I try to curb this by cooking fairly healthy fare at home. Sometimes, it’s OK to lighten up and enjoy some unhealthy favorites at home. Make the mac n’ cheese. Toast that garlic bread. Eat the bacon wrapped pork. These little treats will help make you feel like you’re “splurging” a little, even though they don’t have to cost a ton.
Yes, yes this is porchetta (aka port loin wrapped in bacon). And yes, it was as delicious as it looks!

Yes, yes this is porchetta (aka port loin wrapped in bacon). And yes, it was as delicious as it looks!

  1. Imbibe freely. Drinking at home has two key benefits. First, it is substantially cheaper than drinking at a restaurant. I can get a whole bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s for the cost of a single glass at a restaurant. We see even bigger savings on beer consumed at home, thanks to BF’s home brewing hobby. Second, when you drink at home you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving! It’s OK to have that third glass of wine and get a little tipsy when you only have to make it from the dining room to your bed.
BF making butternut squash gnocchi. From scratch. Best. Boyfriend. EVER.

BF making butternut squash gnocchi. From scratch. Best. Boyfriend. EVER.

  1. Get dessert. You can keep it simple or go elaborate, but eating dessert at home after a delicious meal (especially if you typically limit dessert intake) is the perfect ending to an at-home evening. One of our favorite at-home desserts is homemade ice cream (if you don’t have an ice cream maker, get one. Trust me – best investment ever.). It’s simple and quick yet feels quite decadent.
Apparently I never take pictures of dessert, so this shot of some flank steak, accompanied by blue cheese polenta and broccolini will have to do!

Apparently I never take pictures of dessert, so this shot of some flank steak, accompanied by blue cheese polenta and broccolini will have to do!

  1. Dine with friends. We often go out to eat at the invitation of friends. A great alternative is hosting a dinner at home (it doesn’t have to be a dinner party, just a simple dinner for four or six can be tons of fun, too!). When dining at home with friends, I always try to keep the menu relatively simple. I go with dishes that can easily be made ahead of time so that I can sit down and relax with my guests, instead of feeling like the chef stuck in the kitchen all night. A great fringe benefit of eating at home with friends is the personal pride you feel in showing off your cooking skills to friends (this is especially awesome when you made something that is super simple but just seems so impressive). You might face a slightly higher cost for a single meal since you’re likely to foot the grocery bill for the whole gang, but it evens out over time as friends reciprocate with dinner offers.

How do you create a “restaurant-like” dining experience at home?


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12 thoughts on “How to “Eat Out” Without Leaving Your Home!

  1. I LOVE setting the table up for company and holidays, etc. And my kids go a bit overboard too… placards, decorations, a menu on the wall, etc. And adding a fancy dessert is definitely the way to go! I never regret a meal with a good dessert (in home or elsewhere!).

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    • Wow – I want to come to a dinner party at your house! I’ve never done placecards but it sounds like a very special touch. And I completely agree, dessert is never a bad decision!

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  2. Oh my gosh, that bacon wrapped pork loin looks incredible!! My fiance & I love to make at-home dining experiences. 🙂 We both love to cook, but he especially loves it – and is always more than willing to experiment & try out new cuisines. For one Valentines Day, he surprised me with a pre-made menu with a restaurant name he made up! Along with that he had a bottle of chocolate wine & box of chocolates for dessert that we would enjoy accompanied by candlelight after work. We like to set up these “restaurants” at home to beat the dining out prices! Creating ambiance is fun as well – it seems like you & your boyfriend have that down!

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    • That is great that both of you enjoy cooking! My BF and I are similar – I’m a daily cook and he is the one who loves to go all out and experiment with fancy foods on special occasions.

      Your Valentine’s Day dinner at home sounds amazing! Much more intimate than a restaurant 🙂

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  3. We love cooking at home because we get to indulge without it being expensive… plus the process of cooking can be a lot of fun.

    We have a Valentine’s Day dinner at home too, we always make a roasted rack of lamb and after doing it for nearly ten years we have it down perfectly. When we first started doing it, we did it to save money. Now, it’s a tradition AND we avoid the crowds.

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    • Oh wow, rack of lamb sounds very ambitious and very delicious! I love the idea of celebrating special occasions at home to avoid crowds while saving money. We have cooked at home for anniversaries in the past and we always have a good time!

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      • Rack of lamb is surprisingly easy, much easier than crab cakes, which is our first date anniversary meal. It actually started with that one because we thought it was silly to celebrate our first date after we got married. 🙂

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      • Mmm I love making crab cakes, but you’re right they are challenging! I love the idea of celebrating both a first date and wedding anniversary! And if you do both at home, frugally, you can easily afford to celebrate twice!

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