Save Money by Cooking at Home: Japanese Steakhouse Edition

Not Bad, for a guy and his grill, heh?

When a Japanese steakhouse first opened in our city, it was extremely busy. Tales of flaming onion volcanoes, spatula tricks with eggs, flying bowls of rice and shots of sake had people rushing through the doors. As the newness wore off, the infatuation with the restaurant died down quickly. One of the reasons for this, in my opinion, was the price.

For example, let’s say my family visited the restaurant for dinner.  My wife, myself, and my son would each order a meal, as well as upgrade from the white rice to the chicken fried rice.

$20.95 (steak and shrimp) + $3.25 (fried rice upgrade) = $24.20 per person

$24.20 per person x 3 people = $72.60 + $14.52 (20% tip) = $87.20

$87.20 for three people, and that’s assuming nobody ordered anything to drink!

While the chicken fried rice with lobster sauce is fabulous, the rest of the food is very average. The vegetables and meat are simply fried or sauteed on a flat grill. I could make steak and shrimp at home that would be tastier, and cost a lot less.

Additionally, my family is actually four people.  There’s nothing on the menu of this particular restaurant interests my daughter.  She usually eats before we go and just has a soft drink while enjoying the show, or she just stays home.

Because of price, lack of value, and the non-interest of my daughter, we were never regular patrons. Occasionally, however, Vonnie had wanted to go there mainly for the chicken fried rice and lobster sauce. On one of these occasions, we called the restaurant and found out that the fried rice can be ordered  take out. Together we came up with the idea of getting the fried rice from the restaurant, and making the rest at home.

We are able to pick up 3 orders of chicken fried rice and lobster sauce for $10.76.

One of the best things about cooking at home is you get to select your own products and cooking method. I chose skirt steak. It’s a little of a tougher cut, but it’s full of flavor, and when grilled to medium and sliced thin, it’s fantastic, especially when covered in sauteed mushrooms. For the shrimp, I picked up a package of good sized shrimp from the grocery store for $5.00. Total cost of our meal:

Steak:          $ 7.91

Shrimp:        $ 5.00

Vegetables:  $ 1.98

Mushrooms:  $ 1.78

Rice:            $10.76

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Total:           $27.43

With a savings of almost $60, this cuts our bill to under 1/3 what it would have been at the restaurant. This has become one of our favorite special weekend meals to make, although we STILL need to make something separate for our daughter.

Girl apparently doesn’t like steak and shrimp!  What?

There are many ways to save money when it comes to eating out, or making your meals at home.  The “buy some, make some” method just adds another tool to the money saving toolbox.

How about you?  Have you ever found something SO GOOD at a restaurant that you ordered it take out to add to food you make at home?

About Travis

14 Responses to “Save Money by Cooking at Home: Japanese Steakhouse Edition”

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  1. She doesn’t like shrimp? Even when it’s fried? Geez!! Don’t tolerate that Travis. I’m just joking.

    • Travis says:

      Oh, I know, Lbee…….I’m a huge griller / meat smoker – but Tori doesn’t like any of that. She won’t even eat a hotdog off the grill because the “marks” make it taste burnt. Breaks my heart. LOL.

  2. We’ve never done that, but it is a great idea to keep the costs down. We might have to try this, taking out a family of five costs a small fortune. :)

    • Travis says:

      I can imagine, John S. When a bill at a restaurant for a single meal gets to be almost as much as a week’s worth of groceries….ouch. Time to make some adjustments, right?

  3. JMK says:

    On occasion we’ve picked up eggrolls at our favourite Chinese restaurant and made the stirfry and rice at home. Frozen store bought egg rolls are a poor substitute for these delicious beauties. Also, we can control the veggie mixture used in the stir fry, use sodium reduced soy sauce, and we normally do it on a night when we have some intentionally leftover steak or chicken to be used in the wok. Even with the purchase of the eggrolls, it’s still a fairly cost effective meal that everyone likes.

    • Travis says:

      Great idea, JMK! I especially like the health factor of being able to control the amount of sodium and what vegetables end up in your meal. Thanks for sharing your awesome idea!

  4. Gina says:

    For me it is several different foods..

    We pick up a pound of bbq and eat with our own buns and baked beans or chips at home, saving at least 10-$15.00

    Pizza is pizza but I do love Boar’s head pepperoni, so pick up on sale and freeze it, add extra cheese and sauce and pep to a frozen pizza tastes sooo good! 6.00 pizza from Aldi’s becomes a 12.00 pizza
    but still is better tha 19.99 around here, more if you eat at the resaurant..
    The best deal ever…Harris Teeter grocery store has .99 six inch subs on tuesdays…Yum!

    I think for most people we all need to practice portion control, whenever I eat out I only eat half or less on my plate and take home the rest of the food. I am not shy about it, if I bought it, if I can’t finish it, I am going to take it home…

    I pre-plan this, and sometimes in summer bring a cooler and other tupperware to put the food in.
    I have kept off an 85 pound weight loss using this trick…

    • Travis says:

      Great tips, Gina! Personally, I’ll take a frozen pizza over almost every chain restaurant there is….but I LOVE putting a little extra cheese and fresh vegetables on it myself. Congrats on the weight loss, and for keeping it off too, it takes a lot of self control and dedication I’m sure!

  5. We have friends who are filipino and they love to get take out and add to the food they cook at home. Us on the other hand do not do this. We hardly if ever eat out as we enjoy cooking at home. I know, you are saying take a break, relax, enjoy yourselves but honestly we enjoy creating and eating at home and it’s fun to learn. On the od occasion we get a pizza to add to a salad we make at home, if that counts lol.. Mr.CBB

    • Travis says:

      I say it does count, Mr. CBB! For me, this doing the “buy some, make some” method is about finding something I really like at a restaurant….but not able to reproduce it at home. Most of the time when I find something new at a restaurant I like I try to make it at home. I’ve gotten pretty close with the chicken fried rice….but I can’t even come close to the lobster sauce. :) Great to hear from you Mr. CBB!

  6. Kevin Vesga says:

    I don’t think my parents have ever done this. Sometimes my dad will order a pizza and add anchovies at home, but mostly we either [completely] eat out or eat at home.

    • Travis says:

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, Kevin – like I said, it’s just another tool to put in the toolbox. Maybe someday you or your parents will find something spectacular at a restaurant that will cause the same thing to happen. You just never know….thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kevin!

  7. Agatha says:

    Love this recipe. Much thanks for it! Counting all the money I’ll save right now by making this at home

    • Travis says:

      You’re welcome, Agatha – Like I said, it’s one of our favorite things to make when we want to have something a little special. In fact, the picture in the post is from last week!

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