Restaurant-worthy meals at home: how to dress up canned soup and a basic sandwich

Like many people these days, and especially with the husband going back to school, we’re trying to stretch our budget a little further each month. One of the areas we’ve really cut back is eating out/delivery–takeaway Thai, pizzas, lunch out while running errands. Not necessarily the most fun or easy, but I’m learning that there are lots of little ways to recreate our favorite restaurant items at home, or dress up simple meals so they feel a little more “luxe” on the weekend.

One lunch meal that’s easy to recreate is a soup and sandwich combo. Condensed canned soup isn’t exactly the most appealing thing, but I’ve found you can easily dress up a basic tin instead of spending a lot of money on a fancy packaged soup. The same goes for your sandwich–a few mix-ins make all the difference between a basic lunch and one that feels like a takeaway from your favorite cafe.

Fancy up canned tomato soup with spices and almond milk, and add some unexpected fillings to your grilled cheese for a restaurant-worthy combo.

I start with a large can of condensed tomato soup. Instead of adding a full can of water, I’ll use half a can of water and half a can of almond milk–this gives the soup a creamier finish. Then I add a pinch of salt and a generous amount each of chili powder, Italian seasoning, and hot Madras curry powder (yep!). This gives the soup a little kick and makes it seem more like a homemade concoction than something that came out of a tin can. Whisk everything together in a saucepan and heat through over medium heat while you make your sandwiches.

As for your basic grilled cheese sandwich, there are a few ways to make this a little more exciting. I like to swap regular bread for sourdough, and add some curried tempeh or cooked mushrooms. You can also try adding tomatoes, pickles or argula to the sandwich. Get creative!

The end result tastes like something we’d grab at a cafe for lunch, but for a fraction of the cost. What are your favorite restaurant meals to recreate at home? And now that fall is here, what favorite soup are you whipping up for lunch? Leave me a comment and let me know!

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love add arugula to sandwiches! It is sooo good! I do not eat out very often so I usually cook at home and one of my fave things to make is homemade pizza. I always make a huge one so that it lasts a couple of days and I always add tons of stuff: peppers, mushrooms, corn, vegan cheese, garlic, pineapple, mandarin oranges, jalapenos, asparagus, artichokes…..

    1. Oh man, now I’m hungry for pizza! I had one last week with barbecue sauce on it–sounds terrible, but it was really good!

    1. I think it takes a little of the sting out of saying, “okay, we have to cut back our budget”. And the added bonus of eating at home–it’s quieter than your typical restaurant, so you can have a decent conversation with your mate while you eat!

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