In this post, Austin, from Foreigner’s Finances (an American’s Experience with Money Abroad), shares his new found love for copy-cat recipe blogs, a frugal alternative to dining out at your favorite restaurants. Photo by liber
My girlfriend enjoys cooking, baking, and the creative struggle of taking ingredients and making something delicious out of it. Me? I’m more of a grilled cheese kind of guy.
But now that we’ve been in Japan for almost 9 months, we’re both starting to crave American food that you just can’t get here. We have a McDonald’s in our town, but Big Macs get a little repetitive after a while and give you that “ugh, McDonald’s” feeling in your gut.
Thankfully, my girlfriend has become creative in the kitchen in order to combat our longing for American food and she recently stumbled upon a gold-mine for food lovers: copy-cat recipe blogs. These sites are dedicated to the food of a certain restaurant, often providing near perfect recipe duplications for places like the Olive Garden, Chili’s, or T.G.I. Friday’s.
All of a sudden, one night, I had a Chicken Scampi on my plate from Olive Garden – and it was outstanding.
These sites are a frugal person’s dream because they provide your favorite restaurant’s dishes at a fraction of the price. I’m not saying everyone should cut 100% of their going-out budget, but who wouldn’t like the option of Applebee’s or on a random Tuesday night?
Here are some copy-cat sites for popular restaurants that you’ll enjoy:
Applebees – This Applebee’s Copycat Hub hosts 81 different Applebee’s recipes. If you can’t find your favorite dish there, try this lower key website from a Applebee’s fanatic.
Olive Garden – They don’t mess around. They provide a majority of their recipes for free on the Olive Garden website. On top of that, they have videos from their real Italian chefs (accent and all) who walk you through a recipe. The site’s recipe section is nicely organized and easy to navigate.
T.G.I. Friday’s – This Recipe Secrets forum hosts a massive collection of recipes from different authors. A site called Every Last Recipe hosts 16 different recipes including some of their staple foods.
Red Lobster – Their interactive recipe site blows away The Olive Garden’s similar site. On top of videos and recipes for their famous dishes, you can meet their chefs and get cooking tips. If you’re a fan of Red Lobster, this is your Disney World.
Chipotle - It seems that Chipotle’s a little secretive with their recipes, but ChipotleFan.com does their best to help you re-create some of the Mexican restaurant’s masterpieces.
Outback Steakhouse – This Outback Copycat site has 85 recipes and RecipeSecrets.net has just as many. If you can’t find you’re favorite dish there, you’re just not trying. Editor’s note: If you’re into steak, I have a great method for cooking steak at home in the oven.
Chili’s – 73 Chili’s recipes here, 34 Chili’s recipes here, and 22 Chili’s recipes here. People really love this place.
If your favorite restaurant has more than 2 locations, then a copy-cat blog probably exists.
Google the restaurant name followed by “recipes” or “copy-cat” and the results will blow you away. Who would’ve thought America liked food so much?
Everyday the internet amazes me and this hack will provide loads of kitchen options for any food lover.