Best restaurant copycat recipes!

Best restaurant copycat recipes! Who needs take-out? Make your favorites at HOME! See how -

Since today is the last day of our “No Eating Out” challenge, I thought I'd have my good friend Shandra from one of my favorite sites, Deals to Meals, show us some of her favorite restaurant copycat recipes! Trust me, it's worth the read…she feeds her family of 7 for $100 per week, cooking 2-3 meals per day. Not kidding. You know how I save 1/2 on my groceries every week without clipping coupons? Her site is what makes this happen for me. I've been using it for over 3 years and still use it every single week. Read all about how I do it HERE. Take it away, Shandra!

I have to admit one of my guilty pleasures is going out to eat. It's not that I think their food is any better than I could make in my own kitchen but the fact there are no kids, I'm waited on, and it's quite is a huge bonus for me! As much as I love eating out though, the expense of entertainment can add up quickly. For our family of 7 if we go out to eat it can be anywhere from $40-$100, depending where we go. That's a good chunk of change for one meal.

Considering I can feed our family of 7 for $200 for a 2 week period (using Deals to Meals), that's nearly 50% of my weeks grocery budget. It's amazing what restaurants can charge for a plate of food–it's pretty much high way robbery 🙂

How to save a BUNDLE on your grocery shopping, without the hassle of couponing! See how I do it -
(note: get a detailed description on how to get this many groceries for cheap HERE)

I am excited to share with you today some of my favorite copy-cat recipes that can save you legitimate savings compared to eating out. Now…I know making food at home is not quite as relaxing, and takes more effort, but with a little preparation the payoff's of delicious food can be just as satisfying to eat at home. For me, it's all about great tasting food. If the food I am eating melts in my mouth and tastes even better than restaurant food I am one happy lady!! Not to mention with teenagers we have a pact that I cook and they clean–it's awesome 🙂

The other day my husband and I went out to eat for our anniversary. I love Lemon Chicken Picatta and it was $38 a plate at Christopher's Steakhouse. It came with a roll, chicken and mashed potatoes. Unreal expensive and so not worth the money. I decided to come home and recreate the same meal and was able to make it for MUCH less!

Lemon Chicken Picatta

Restaurant price: $38 a plate

Homemade for a family of 7: $10 or $1.50 a plate

That's a 96% savings!

Chicken Picata

Who doesn't love Winger's Sticky Finger Chicken Salad? Since making this from home several years ago I can't stomach eating at Winger's knowing how cheap I can recreate this recipe. This is one of our family's favorite salad recipes. Delicious!! All of these ingredients are on sale this week as well (chicken $1.69/lb., tomatoes .49/lb., croutons $1, cheddar cheese 2lb. $3.99 (use half), red onion .33/lb., lettuce .88 a head, ranch $1.50, Franks $1, brown sugar $1)

Winger's Sticky Chicken Salad

Restaurant price: $10.99 a plate
Homemade for a family of 7:  under $10 or $1.50 a plate
Savings of 86%

Another favorite dish of mine is at Outback–Alice Springs Smothered Chicken. At Outback Steakhouse it costs $16.99 a plate. It comes with bread, mashed potatoes, smothered chicken and honey mustard sauce. This week by following the Deals to Meals website I was able to get all of the ingredients for this dish for under $15 for a family of 7 (chicken $1.69/lb., bacon $2.50, mushrooms $1.69, cheddar cheese 2lbs. $3.99, tomatoes .49/lb., green onions .25 each, potatoes 10lb. .99, and mayo $1.99).

Alice Spring's Chicken & Sweet Pumpernickel Bread

 Restaurant Price: $16.99 a plate
Homemade for family of 7: $15 or $2.15 a plate
Savings of 87%

Who doesn't love a gourmet hamburger? At Smash Burger, Five Guys or Chili's you will pay over $12 a plate. Hamburger's are one of the most ridiculously priced items out there. You can get a gross, processed hamburger for a $1 at McDonalds or pay $12 at a nicer restaurant. The bottom line is you can make a healthier, burger from scratch for under $2.00 a plate. And the fact they taste a hundred times better is fabulous!! These ingredients are also on sale–find all of the best deals at Deals to Meals! (Hamburger $2.49/lb., lettuce .88 a head, tomatoes .49/lb., gorgonzola $3, buns $1.50, mayo $1.99, onions .49/lb., mushrooms $1.69, jar roasted red peppers $1.50)

Gourmet Gorgonzola Burgers with Roasted Red Peppers

Restaurant price: $12.00 a plate
Homemade for family of 7: $12 or $1.75 a plate
Savings of 85%
homemade burger
I love salads for dinner and California Pizza Kitchen makes a fabulous BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad entree. It is fresh, healthy and full of great flavor. Gourmet salads at restaurants cost a lot of money for how inexpensive lettuce and vegetables are. Their mark up is outrageous. This chopped salad at California Pizza kitchen is over $10 and from home it was under $8 for our family of 7. Deals again this week (chicken $1.69/lb., lettuce .88 each, can of beans .59, frozen corn .99, green onions .25 ea., bbq sauce .49, chips .99, tomatoes .49/lb.)

CPK's BBQ Chopped Salad

Restaurant price: $10.00 a plate
Homemade for a family of 7: $8 or $1.15 a plate
Savings of 88%
Visit our blog for MANY more copy cat restaurant recipes you can make for less!
How delicious do those look?? Thanks for Sharing, Shandra! And remember how I save 1/2 on my groceries every week without clipping coupons? See how I use Deals to Meals to make it happen HERE.

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And don't forget, if you don't save at LEAST what you paid for the program, I'll refund every dime. You've got nothing to lose! Use the code FCFBLOG to get an extra 10% off, because I love you 😉


  1. Avatarsarah says

    Hello! I love this post so much I definitely need motivation to stick to my budget!

    My question is… how do you find organic produce and organic food for sale? I am a vegan and it is very hard for me to find deals on such items. Which is why I can never stick to my budget!

    Any suggestions or advice?

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Great question! That’s a tough one. Especially because the answer is…organic produce DOESN’T really go on sale. It doesn’t need to! The way the food industry works in this country is sad. So you won’t find a good deal, they are fully taking advantage of the supply/demand issue in this country. So my best advice is to look up “the dirty dozen” and just pick and choose what you go organic with, and for those things you choose to buy organic, buy from Costco and you will save up to half or more. You might need to buy larger quantities but just freeze or store extras, or split with a friend. It’s worth the savings for sure. And they have a HUGE organic section that’s growing every day. Best of luck!

      • AvatarJoslyn says

        Hi there… I just wanted to chime in on the organic front, though I know this post is old. My husband used to work at a food coop stocking shelves so we know all about the organic food sales. Our local coop participates in a sales program all the coops in the area do. A few times a year frozen organic veggies and fruits, canned tomatoes, dry beans, etc will go on sale. When that happens we get an even bigger discount by ordering a case and using our membership discount as well… it is still more expensive then non-organic but for us it is an area we are willing to invest more money. Thank you for the tips here!

    • AvatarKanoealoha says

      Readjust your budget. If you are constantly spending $200 a week on food for the things you need/want then your budget should be $200. I use to tell myself yeah our budget is $100 a week but constantly spent $125, well I had to stop lying to myself and readjust it.

  2. AvatarDaisy says

    Hmm – I just don’t buy it, at least not for my family. We are a family of 4 and spend about $500 on groceries in a month (including toiletries, diapers, normal bulk Costco purchases for the home spread out) and we go through absolutely at LEAST 10 gallons of whole milk and 3-4 gallons of 2% milk a MONTH. As for fruit… we can go through three watermelons in a week, cantaloupes only last us a day, and I can’t get my kids to eat cereal for breakfast everyday. And my kids are only 3 and 1… so… I’m not sure what is wrong with my appetite or what, but there’s just no way – no matter how I try to cost save or budget here or there, we are always over $500. Maybe we just have to give up some of our expensive healthy eating habits?

  3. AvatarGina says

    I agree with above posts…I couldn’t do this. I spent at least $100 per week for our fam of four 36, 34, 22m, 7m. I pack my husbands breakfast and lunch, brew his coffee and we eat at home every night for dinner. I’ve never seen .49/lb tomatoes or onions. More like $2.99-3.99/lb for tomatoes and $1.99 for onions. We don’t make expensive meals. I could easily spend $30-40/wk on fruit and veggies alone before the two gallons of milk which cost $10…can’t imagine what it will be when the baby starts drinking cows milk in a few months. So I’m at $50 before bread, lunch meat, eggs (which are 1.79 for the store brand a dozen), meat etc. I clip coupons and only buy sale items. I don’t know…seems very hard to do in the north east.

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Yes, that could certainly be true. Different parts of the US are much more expensive than others. But a lot of the same principles hold true that can be used anywhere – buy what’s in season, buy what’s on sale and stock up, big box stores carry much better prices, and buy in bulk when you can. And of course, don’t shop based on what you want to cook that week, cook that week based on what the best prices are! Hope that helps, thanks for reading!

  4. AvatarMichelle Wilson says

    This is not even possible in the East Coast area. There should be a statement saying where this person lives as I totally agree with the last person’s post. Milk is about $4.00 a gallon and unless its a once and a blue moon sale, veggies are never less than $1.99 a lb. Please next time post where you purchased your groceries so that people will not be fooled into thinking that they can do this anywhere.

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Michelle – thanks for the feedback! Walmart, and local grocery stores like Smiths, Sprouts, and Harmons (here in Utah) have these prices regularly. While we do agree that different areas carry different prices, we also agree that good deals can be found anywhere if you look hard enough! Best of luck to you!

      • Avatarelei says

        I agree with you… we could have comments all day long about how it’s more expensive here or there ($6 gallon of milk for me in Honolulu), but I totally get the point of this post. OBVIOUSLY, it’s about saving a ton of money…making meals with what is on sale. MAKING MEALS instead of eating out. Buying in bulk helps a lot for me. I buy a 10b bag of chicken breast, slow cook the whole bag and pack a bundle of shredded chicken bags to freeze instead of buying the canned chicken. I do the same thing for cubed chicken chunks. I bring the bag home from Costo, let it thaw and bake the whole thing at once with light seasoning. Then, I cube it all up and store it in smaller containers in the freezer.

        Thanks so much for this post. Hopefully people understand that your intention is not to all eat these exact meals where they live and YES, it might cost a bit more for some things in more expensive areas of the country, but income is usually higher to go with cost of living too.

        Thanks for the inspiration!

    • AvatarDeb says

      She’s giving an idea of prices where she lives. Why jump on her because you live someplace more expensive? You as a reader should realize it’s not for everyone.
      Gawd does everything have to come with a disclaimer?
      My family drinks 4 gallons of milk a week. So…. That’s not her job to know that or to know you’re vegan or celiac or whatever else. She’s putting up an EXAMPLE of how it could possibly be done.
      Get a grip.

      Oh and by the way…. It’s ONCE IN A BLUE MOON.

  5. AvatarCBell says

    Hi! Love the article. We are also going to be a family of 7, so I was automatically drawn to the article. BUT, I am a little confused. When each of the meals are broken down price-wise, they all end up being more expensive than what she says they are. And not only that, is she saying she feeds 7 people on 1# of chicken for a meal or 1# of beef for 7 hamburgers? I can’t feed my kids on less than 2# of any meat. If that’s the case, it shoots the price up at least 3-4$ per meal. For example, the Burger scenario prices add up to $14.03, with just getting 1 tomato and 1 pound of ground beef. If you have to double the meat, you are looking at $16.52 for that meal. If you could clarify for me, that would be great! Thanks!

    • AvatarDebbie says

      I’m gonna guess that the list of ingredients with the prices is what those food items are on sale for in her area. But then she probably adjusts the meal price based on how much of the food items she used. For example, maybe she used 2 lb of hamburger, so that would be $5, but I’m sure she didn’t use the whole $1.99 jar of mayo… maybe only like $.20 worth or something. And probably not the whole .88 head of lettuce… maybe only $.10 worth. So basically, you would spend a certain amount of money buying the ingredients, but that’s not necessarily how much it would cost to make the meal. You could have leftover ingredients that could be used for other meals. I’m sure many people have many of the ingredients already on hand and wouldn’t actually need to buy them at the store. She was just listing which items were on sale for a more thrifty purchase (from what I gathered anyway).

  6. AvatarAshley says

    The lemon chicken picatta was my favorite, and the link isn’t active anymore 🙁 Any idea where I can find this recipe?

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Oh no, thanks for letting me know! I’ve gone in and updated all of those recipe links – they’re good to go now! 🙂

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