Imagine if one of the top chefs in the country came knocking at your door and offered to teach you how to make your favorite meals. This is exactly what happened to Melissa and Matt, parents from Ashburn, Virginia, who spend up to $400 a week on food delivery and takeout.
Oprah Show producers dispatch Curtis Stone, the Australian host of TLC's Take Home Chef and a sandwich showdown competitor, to Melissa and Matt's home to stage a takeout intervention.
For years, Melissa says she spent hours making meals no one liked. Matt says they order out six—sometimes seven—nights a week.
With Curtis's help, that's all about to change!
First, they have to stock the fridge. Curtis, Matt and Melissa head to the grocery store to buy fresh ingredients. In just 15 minutes, Curtis says they'll have everything they need to make the same items they had delivered...but for a lot less money!
Corn tortillas are the first ingredient to go in the cart. They cost less than a dollar and will be used to make a healthier version of Matt's nachos. "We're going to bake them," Curtis says.
Next, they head to the cheese aisle. "You're much better to buy it in a whole block rather than already grated," Curtis says.
Instead of salmon, the shoppers buy a tilapia fillet, which is on sale for $1.95. Next stop? The meat section. "What you want to do when you get to the meat section is just scour the cabinet," Curtis says. Steaks that are nearing their sell-by date are usually marked down. They find a package that was $11.75 for the three steaks, but now it's only $4.82!
At checkout, Curtis's advice really pays off. Matt and Melissa get all the ingredients they need for $17.31.
Back at Matt and Melissa's house, Curtis gets to work.
Curtis suggests they start with the components that take the longest and work backward. He begins by tearing the corn tortillas into pieces and popping them into the oven. "We're going to bake it until it's nice and crispy," he says. "It takes five minutes or so."
Then, Curtis whips up fresh pesto with a food processor Matt says he didn't even know they had. A few minutes later, the tilapia and steak are cooked and ready to be served. In total, the meal takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
"I can't remember the last time we had a home-cooked meal," Melissa says. "I would love to be able to give that to my kids."
On Day 2 of Matt and Melissa's takeout intervention, Curtis arrives bright and early to kick off cooking lessons. "What I thought I'd do is I'd show them how to make seven beautiful dishes that replace all that takeout they've been ordering," he says.
Melissa takes her position at the stove, ready to learn a few chef secrets. The first meal they make is Rigatoni with Spicy Italian Salami. "You're talking about a gourmet plate of food at a portion of the price," Curtis says.
After the pasta, Curtis teaches his student how to make:
"I've learned that there are a million things I'm capable of making, and everything's been so easy," Melissa says. "To know that my family's going to be able to sit down and eat together means the world."
After Curtis' visit, Matt and Melissa cut their weekly food bill from $400 to $59.33. "It's very embarrassing, actually. We've always known we are spending exorbitant amounts of money on takeout," Melissa says. "But when you have no skills and nobody will eat what you make, you don't have any choices."
Before her cooking lessons, Matt says his wife's food wasn't very good. But now things have changed. "The stuff that we made from Curtis was very good," he says. "I told him he gave [us] a set of recipes for seven days. We'll call him on Day 8."
Curtis can't move in with every family, but he wants moms and dads struggling to come up with dinner ideas to remember one thing.
"I always think of food as the vehicle that brings you together," he says. "It's not so much about what the actual food is. It's about the effort that's gone into it."