What’s for dinner? Check out our lockdown ‘fakeaway’ suggestions that don’t cost the earth
Money Week is just around the corner, but as an amuse bouche for what’s in store next week, we are kicking off our week long money saving tips and advice by tickling your taste buds with our very own recipe for success on how to save on the takeaways, but still enjoy tasty dinners.
In our recent Money Week survey, 75% of respondents reported spending more on food and takeaways since the pandemic – using takeaways as a replacement for going out, increased comfort eating due to boredom and spending more on online food shopping by adding extras to the basket.
We all know how tempting it can be after a long day, to head to the Deliveroo or Just Eat app instead of having to think about making dinner. Unfortunately, we also know what a drain that can be on the finances, not to mention our health, so here is our guide to swapping the takeaways for ‘fakeaways’.
Cooking from scratch and doing-it-yourself will not only put you back in control of the purse strings (and your waistline), there are countless other benefits too, and it certainly doesn’t have to mean forfeiting on flavour:
- Being in charge of your own meals means you get to eat the foods you love, exactly how you enjoy eating them.
- It’s fun! Experiment with different ingredients, seasonings, and cuisines, and build your repertoire at the same time.
- You know exactly what ingredients have been used – no MSG, less trans fats and artificial additives, less salt, etc.
- You won’t be adding to your carbon footprint with unnecessary delivery journeys or pick-ups.
- Cooking from scratch reduces the use of largely un-recyclable takeaway packaging (did you know greasy pizza boxes can’t be recycled?) and single use plastics.
- You can save money buying a good basic supply of ingredients (herbs, spices, grains etc) that you can use again and again to create more wonderful meals.
- Batch cooking will allow you to freeze a couple of portions, for an even quicker meal when you need it next time. Or keep a portion in the fridge for lunch the next day.
- If you are living with other people, try sharing the cost (and the cooking) and make the most of your night in with a joint feast.
- Have fun with flatmates by having your own ‘Come Dine with Me’ themed evenings
Here are some of our favourite DIY recipes, which can be adapted for any dietary need:
It’s so simple to create your own pizza bases.
Ingredients: (makes 6 x 8inch pizzas)
650g/1lb 5oz 00 flour (or strong white flour)
7g sachet easy-blend yeast
2 tsp salt
25ml/1fl oz olive oil
50ml/2fl oz warm milk
325ml/11fl oz warm water
Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large mixing bowl and stir in the olive oil and milk. Gradually add the water, mixing well to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and knead for about five minutes, until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for about 1½ hours, until doubled in size.
Once risen, knead again until smooth, roll into a ball and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour until risen again.
Preheat the oven to its highest setting.
Divide the dough into six balls and roll each out onto a lightly floured work surface until 20cm/8in in diameter (or make less if you want bigger pizzas). As for the toppings, the choices are endless, but you can’t beat the basic cheese and tomato combo! Get creative and put together your own combinations, or recreate your favourite take-away pizza.
Bake the pizzas in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the bases are crisp and golden-brown around the edges and any cheese on the topping has melted.
Chef’s tip: You can freeze the ball of dough to defrost and roll out the next time you fancy a pizza!
Stir fry (Ve)
Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp Oil
Vegetables of your choice (e.g mushrooms, peppers, green beans, spinach, carrots, broccoli)
15g/½oz fresh root ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, cut into short lengths
Boiled rice, to serve (or egg noodles for the non-vegans)
Mix the cornflour with two tablespoons of cold water until smooth, then stir in the soy sauce.
Oil a large wok, or frying pan and place over a high heat. Stir-fry your vegetables for a few minutes, starting with anything harder and low in moisture (e.g Broccoli or carrots). Add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and stir-fry for a few seconds. Pour over the soy sauce mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the veg is cooked through.
Serve immediately with your choice of noodles or plain boiled rice. Crack open a bag of prawn crackers if you’re feeling adventurous.
Chef’s tip: Mix things up by adding a protein like chicken, prawns or tofu and add chopped chillies or chilli flakes for an added kick.
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
400g/14oz potatoes, peeled and cut into chips or keep skin on and cut into wedges
2 tsp oil
1 egg, beaten
2 slices bread
2 x 150g skinless, boneless fillets eg cod, haddock, pollack. Rinse in cold water then thoroughly pat dry else the batter won’t stick.
peas to serve
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper ready for the fish. If you don’t have baking paper, don’t worry a greased non stick tray will suffice.
Boil the chips/wedges for 3 – 4 minutes, then drain. Add to a separate baking tray and scatter with oil, tossing to coat. Spread out in single layer and bake for 20 minutes.
Lightly toast the bread then grate into fine breadcrumbs.
Dip the fish into the egg mixture and shake off any excess liquid, then cover in the breadcrumbs. Transfer to the lined/greased baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked and browned.
Cook the peas and serve the fish and chips with the peas.
Chef’s tip: for the full chippy experience, have mushy peas.
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
2 large aubergines (600g), sliced into rounds
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
400ml can chopped tomatoes
400ml can coconut milk
pinch of sugar (optional)
½ small pack coriander, roughly chopped
boiled rice, naan, pitta or chapatis
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the aubergines in a roasting tin with 2 tbsp olive oil, season well and spread out. Roast for 20 mins or until dark golden and soft.
Heat the remaining oil in an large saucepan and fry the onions over a medium heat for 5-6 mins until softening. Stir in the garlic and spices, for a few mins until the spices release their aromas.
Tip in the tomatoes, coconut milk and roasted aubergines, and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20-25 mins, removing the lid for the final 5 mins to thicken the sauce. Add a little seasoning if you like, and a pinch of sugar if it needs it. Stir through most of the coriander. Serve over rice or with bread, scattering with the remaining coriander. Any leftovers can be frozen, or eaten the next day.
We have lots more recipes and suggestions in our Healthy Eating booklet