And, when it comes to restaurants, many of us have favorites. "Red Lobster," said one passerby. "Chilis," said another.
"Olive Garden," said a third.
But, eating out can wreak havoc on your wallet. "Monthly? About $150, $200," said one diner.
Saving with 6 ABC searched for cheaper ways to dine on a dime!
And what we found are dozens websites offering "copycat"recipes from many of your favorite chains!
But how tasty is a "copycat"? To find out, we took some of the online recipes to Chef Christina Dimacali.
We had Christina whip up versions of: Olive Garden's Fettuccini Alfredo, Chipotle's Guacamole, Starbucks Frozen Coffee Frappuccino, and finally California Pizza Kitchens Thai Chicken Pizza.
We also purchased each dish from the chains.
Then Action News hit the streets of Center City to have taste-testers compare how the "copycats" measured up to the restaurant "real deals".
First up: Starbucks Frappuccino. The recipe we whipped up calls for double strength coffee, low fat milk, sugar, and ice.
"I think this is the Starbucks, but I like that one better," said one taster.
She was right. Most of our testers say although they could tell the difference between the two coffees, most agreed: the copy cat tasted just as good!
"You really can have twenty of these for one of them," said Chef Dimacali. A spokesperson for Starbucks told Action News that their recipe is propriety and wouldn't reveal the actual ingredients to tell us if our "copycat" was the real deal! The spokesperson added that the secret to Starbucks flavored frappuccino's is the "special sauces".
And, we got a lot of opinions on the replica of the Chipotle Guacamole. That "copycat" recipe features avocado, onion, lime, jalapeno, garlic and salt.
"This ones more spicy, this ones more salty," said the taster.
"They taste very similar," said another taster.
"Which one do you think was in the restaurant?" said Chef Dimacali. "That one," said a 9-year old taster. "And which one do you like better," added the Dimacali. "That one," said the taster. "Actually, this is the one we made in the kitchen," said Dimacali.
A lot of our testers pointed out that our kitchen version of the guacamole was saltier. A spokesperson for Chipotle also told Action News that their guacamole recipe is proprietary. But added that our version included garlic and the restaurant version does not. The chain also noted that our recipe did not include cilantro, as theirs does. And how did the Thai Chicken Pizza stack up? The replica sauce includes peanut butter, brewed tea, honey, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and sesame and chili oil.
"That's the original but I like that one better," said the pizza taster.
Actually, he was wrong. The slice he liked was our "copycat" pizza. Although most of our testers did like the real CPK pie better.
Finally, the Olive Garden Fettuccini Alfredo. This recipe calls for a pint of heavy cream and a half cup of butter -- per serving!
"I don't know I liked the first one the best and since I liked it first I'll say that's the Olive Garden one then!" said the taster.
WRONG!!! It was the kitchen copy! And, most of our samplers told us they couldn't tell the even tell the difference. Since most of tasters agree the "copycats" are about as tasty as the restaurant versions and the costs are lower, "copycatting" you're your kitchen could pay off! Below are some links to get you started.
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