Take a cooking class to add elegance to home meals and save money

How to eat well without leaving home
How to eat well without leaving home

While visiting a friend in Los Angeles last month, I got roped into taking a cooking class. "C'mon, it'll be a nice change from going to a restaurant," my friend Laurie told me. Afterward, I agreed she was right. And I have to add that not only is attending a cooking class a fun alternative to eating at a pricey restaurant, it's a good way to save money on meals in the long run.

The cooking class we took was at Hipcooks in West L.A., which recently was written up by Cyndia Zwahlen in a Los Angeles Times story about the rising trend of foodies learning how to eat well without paying restaurant prices. More cooking schools are gearing courses toward budget-conscious gourmands, offering classes like "Brown-Bagging It" and "Budget-Conscious Comfort Food."