It might taste good, but a ritzy restaurant bill can sour a delicious meal, and to avoid it, more and more people are choosing to save some dough and cook on their own.
"We really see a very noticable shift from dining out to dining in," explained Krista Faron, a senior analyst at Mintel International. "About a half of consumers are telling us they are cooking more at home."
Cooking can be intimidating and is often perceived as time-consuming. But regardless of whether you can baste, beat or blanch, you can build cooking confidence in a city of Chicago cooking class.
"Its always been something I am intimidated by. This is my way of saying I can do this too. I'm learning and its great," said one satisfied student.
After 32 years of teaching, Chef Judith Dunbar Hines said everyone can learn and save money.
"We are doing Chinese things tonight," said Hines, the Director of Culinary Arts and Events at the city's Dept. of Cultural Affairs. "You can go out and buy 20 bottles of stuff and its not going to cost you $25. You can use them forever."
Finances aside, health is another reason people are rediscovering their kitchens.
"You know what is going into the food, plus its fresh. We have been trying to eat healthier at home," one student said.
Convinced you can't make a cheap and healthy restaurant-quality meal at home? Chef and food blogger Hugh Amano isn't buying it, and shows off an eggplant pasta dish with dandelion greens, roasted onions and a salad with roasted onion vinagrette.
He starts by picking seasonal ingredients: the eggplant and dandelion greens. As a bonus, the dandelion greens are known as a superfood, providing nutrition and great taste. Amano also shops at stores where you can buy loose produce. For a bit of sauce, only one carrot was needed, totalling $0.33.
Garlic, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, onions, pasta and feta cheese round out the ingredients. The total price is $12.77 and the meal serves four.
With a quick saute, simmer and season, Amano makes at home what could cost close to $60 bucks in a restaurant.
"Easy, cheap and delicious."
Do you have any tips for gourmet dishes on the cheap? Let us know in the comments.