Eating out isn’t cheap, but that doesn’t stop Americans from doing it. Folks of all generations are admittedly willing to spend more money on restaurant meals than any other nonessential product or service.
CheatSheet reports that restaurants try to keep their overall food cost, or the cost of ingredients, at around 30 percent. However, some restaurant dishes contain ridiculously cheap ingredients, but are marked up exorbitantly in comparison to what they cost to make.
These are five such dishes — ones that are pricey in restaurants, but can be enjoyed at home for next to nothing.
Americans spend around $38 billion a year on pizza. That’s a lot of dough (no pun intended).
At some nicer Italian restaurants, pizza Margherita is typically among the cheapest offerings, but will still set you back anywhere from $9 to $16, on average. And when you consider its inexpensive ingredients — dough, cheese, basil, tomatoes — it feels a little like robbery.
For what it’s worth, you can make your own pizza dough out of self-rising flour and Greek yogurt. It doesn’t get much easier than that. You can also go crazy with toppings and still save a bundle when you assemble your own pie at home.
This isn’t true across the board; some fancier starters are appropriately priced. But the fried junk — fries, mozzarella sticks, pickles — is cheap for restaurants to sell, often for much higher prices than the items are worth.
According to CheatSheet, frying such ingredients in oil at home is far from healthy, but also makes them taste just like the appetizers you’d order in restaurants. Actually, you can fry pretty much anything and it’ll be delicious. Here’s how to make the classic fried green tomato.
Anyone who’s ever gone grocery shopping knows a box of pasta is dirt cheap. But some restaurant pasta dishes are unreasonably expensive, not to mention terrible for you.
In other words, one restaurant serving of spaghetti can cost $13. A homemade pasta dish can feed an entire family for about $5. This one is a no-brainer.
4. Egg dishes and omelets
Eggs go hand in hand with pasta. They cost an average of 19¢ each, but that doesn’t stop restaurants from charging $10 or so for omelets and other egg-based breakfast specialties.
Going out for breakfast is a treat, and we wouldn’t dream of trying to deprive you of it — we love breakfast too! But most days, you can save a ton by whipping up an omelet in your own kitchen. Eggs, cheese, ham and veggies are all totally affordable.
If you’d rather hard-boil your eggs, here’s the best way to do it.
That restaurant soda probably set you back $2 or $3, but its ingredients likely cost the establishment a mere 25¢. The same goes for coffee and tea, which are always insanely overpriced.
While coffee and tea have proven health benefits, there’s really no reason to drink soda. But if you must, buy a case at the grocery store. A 12-pack of cola costs the same as just a couple of restaurant soft drinks.