When food prices are high, it’s only natural that many of us start to think about skipping the takeaway in favor of a home-cooked alternative. If you have the right skills and ingredients, you can often replicate the experience of takeaway food. You’ll have absolute control over the ingredients you put in, meaning that you can cater to your specific dietary requirements. Plus, it’ll be a lot cheaper.
What foods can you cook at home? The answer is: just about any of them. You might not have access to a commercial deep-fryer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t serve up some more-than-respectable fish and chips. The same applies to commercial wok burners, and the tandoor ovens you might find in an Indian restaurant kitchen.
According to an analysis from Finder.com, a takeaway meal in 2022 costs around £7.93 per serving. This is a jump of 50p from 2021, which is around what you’d expect given the rate of inflation. Your local takeaway has overheads to cover, especially if they deliver to your door.
It’s possible to create a decent takeaway alternative for much less than this. In fact, you might comfortably serve a family of four for this amount of money, especially if you’ve got access to a well-stocked pantry. Even once you’ve factored in the cost of turning on a gas stove, or running a dishwasher, the takeaway works out cheaper.
So, how do you get the most from your fakeaway meal? By replicating what goes on in a commercial kitchen. Prepare your ingredients before cooking them, and tidy up as you go along.
If you’re going to be stir-frying, then you’re going to be cooking very hot and very fast. You want your ingredients set up in advance, so they can be tossed in at a moment’s notice. If you try to chop onions while the peppers are in the wok, your results will be unsatisfactory.
One cost we haven’t considered is that of equipment. Equipping your kitchen so that you can have a productive and pleasurable experience in there can mean spending a little bit on the right tools. However, unless you’re going to live off takeaway, these are tools you will need to invest in, anyway. Going for quality, therefore, makes sense. A decent non-stick wok will serve you nicely for years. If you’re planning on making desserts at home, a handheld whisk might make just as big a difference.
In some cases, more niche pieces of equipment might be tempting. This is where you’ll need to trust your own judgment. How often are you going to be using that pressure cooker, whipped cream dispenser, or stand mixer? Once you can guess the answer, you’ll have a basis for sketching out a budget.
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