Enhancing Homemade Meals With A Little Help From Restaurants

Restaurants don’t just come in handy when you want to order a full meal. Often, you can purchase small items not listed on the menu to improve a dinner you are cooking yourself. A couple instances of utilizing a restaurant for an “assist” occurred this past week in Spokane, thus serving as my inspiration for this blog post. Let me give you five examples…

Ice from Sonic – It is no secret, Sonic is as famous for its ice as it is for its Sonic Blasts. A brand new Sonic just opened up a couple minutes from my parents’ house and my brother and Sid decided to stop by last week to pick up some lunch. Besides the grilled cheese sandwiches and mozzarella sticks they brought home, they also carried in a bag of Sonic ice. For just $0.99, they were given a bag filled with the famous “nugget” ice. We kept it out on our back porch and scooped our cups in it all week long when we went to fix a drink. My mom even commented that it made her soda taste better!

Taco Salad Shells from Taco Bell – When my mom would host her Bunco group, she would make homemade taco salad…well, almost homemade. Although she labored on the salad itself, she went to a famous fast food restaurant for the containers to serve it in. For $0.10 each, you can purchase taco shell bowls at Taco Bell. They are great for entertaining as you normally don’t see taco shell bowls outside of restaurants.

Fortune Cookies from any Asian Restaurants – Sure you can buy a box of fortune cookies at the grocery store but if you want the homemade or obscure variety, just walk inside any Asian restaurant and ask the hostess. Some places will charge a quarter per cookie while other places will happily give you a handful for free. Trust me, I have a lot of experience with this. Fortune cookies can provide the perfect surprise ending to any homemade Chinese feast.

You can walk inside any Asian restaurant and request fortune cookies.

Alfredo Sauce from Papa Murphy’s – Growing up, I always enjoyed it when my mom would let us kids make homemade pizza for dinner. She would set all the ingredients out on the table and let us have at it. While she provided the red pizza sauce herself, she called upon Papa Murphy’s to provide the white sauce. A couple hours before we prepared our pies, she would go inside the store and get several plastic condiment cups, usually $.50 each, of the delicious alfredo sauce served by my favorite pizza chain. Being able to choose an ingredient from an actual pizza place was always fun.

Salad Dressing from Tomato Street – There is a fabulous Italian restaurant in Spokane called Tomato Street. Besides its to-die-for pastas and savory garlic bread, it also has a reputation for an amazing creamy garlic salad dressing. For our Christmas dinner, my mom topped the salad with dressing she went and purchased at the busy restaurant the day before. No store bought dressing could ever compete with what Tomato Street serves and my mom took full advantage of it.


Do you use any side items from restaurants to enhance your homemade meals? If so, let me know. You can get pretty creative. Don’t Blink.

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