Eating out has been a staple in our society as one gets a coffee on the way to work, orders take out for lunch while at work, enjoys a fast food grab on the way home or a nice outing with friends or family after a long day. I used to enjoy eating out as a convenience and as a way to enjoy really good food.
When I became frugal and cut back on my external food budget, I became a better cook and enjoyed my culinary abilities. My kitchen became a lab and I enjoyed experimenting with new ingredients and better methods of combining ingredients. My meals became healthier as I chose whole grains at every opportunity and used a variety of spices to entertain my taste buds.
My coffee routine is a comfort food. I like to have the same coffee at the same place every morning. Initially I would drink Tim Hortons coffee but Mr Cannes replaced this habit with his signature coffee from home served in a fancy travel mug. His coffee is now my favourite.
I love sushi and quickly learned how to make it and where to source sushi grade fish. When I make it on a Saturday, we eat sushi the entire weekend therefore lasting us 3-4 meals. The cost of fresh fish (salmon and tuna) ranges from $10 to $20 for our needs. The best part of making my own sushi is that I add cooked bacon to most of my rolls. I love my bacon sushi and haven’t tasted any rolls that are better than mine.
When I find dishes that I love, I get pretty good at replicating them. Thai, Korean and Japanese bowls are some of my favourite. Some key ingredients I work with to replicate these flavours are fish sauce, peanuts/peanut butter, ketsup/tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and miso base. I might use glutenous rice, rice noodles or sweet potato noodles as the carb, add fresh salad and raw veggies and serve it with a protein. My dishes are always intense and to my liking. There are now very few asian restaurants that can deliver the flavours to my expectations.
I used to love fast food breakfast sandwiches and considered them treats on special occasions. They were so yummy due to being loaded with salt, fat and sugar. I can make healthier breakfast sandwiched at home in the time that it takes me to toast an english muffin.
Store bought veggie dip is usually pretty good. As a healthier alternative, I rather know what goes into my veggie dip. Greek yogourt, sour cream, mayo and honey are the base for my healthy veggie dip.
In short, I get disappointed in the food quality most times that I eat out for convenience. Rarely do I find restaurant foods that are based with whole grain or that thrill my taste buds. There are a few expensive restaurants that I really enjoy so I leave those for special occasions.
If you have become a better chef as a result of being more frugal, do you still enjoy eating out?