With the recent launch of UberEATS in my home town, the world of takeaway just got a whole lot more interesting for all. Competing with the fast food locations, many cafes and restaurants are using this app (and other similar ones) to bring their meals to homes with convenience. This has many saying it will revitalise the takeaway food scene, whilst it has me concerned that people are going to lose a whole lot more than they gain. I'm going to compare eating takeaway VS cooking in, and identify who the winner is across the key factors, Cost/Time/Quality & Nutrition - you might be surprised...
Now - I am all for a "lazy" meal, made by someone else, but I know many families are looking for ways to save money, and surprise! Those takeaway meals are costing you more than the meals you make at home. The family meal pack from a popular fast food restaurant will set you back $30, yet you could EASILY prepare something healthier and more delicious in less time AT HOME! A review of local Thai & Indian cuisine takeaways in the local area has a family meal to feed 4 people costing up to $50! A scan through UberEATS has a delivered meal for a family of 4 coming to even more than that at at least $60.
To prepare a yum, fresh, just-as-good-as-the-takeaway Indian Curry, will cost you (at most) $20 to feed 4 people! Next time you get the urge to grab takeaway, and you want to save money, why not take the money you would have spent on the takeaway and buy the ingredients for your Mexican, Thai, Indian, Pizza etc and make it yourself! If you are feeling like something special, splash out on something a little fancy to add into your meal and STILL save money!
WINNER: Cooking in is the definite winner here.
How much time does takeaway take? Many would say "minutes!", but I would say, at least 15-20 minutes, and sometimes the wait is over 30 minutes (some UberEATS have you waiting up to 45 minutes!). Either the time to wait for delivery, the time to drive to the restaurant plus the time it takes to decide what everyone wants - takeaway is a significant time user.
A home made dinner can easily be made in the time it takes for takeaway, and you don't need to leave the house, or change out of your pyjamas! It might take a little more time than the takeaway, but cooking in allows you to prepare a meal from scratch, without picking up the phone, driving the car or spending ages deciding what everyone wants to eat.
WINNER: Takeaway has a slight edge here, winning not for time, but for "less" effort.
Quality & Nutrition
Food from takeaway places is generally very tasty, the flavour generally far exceeds anything we've been able to produce in our home kitchen. They must have a "secret" recipe right? Many do of course, matching whole foods with real spices and seasoning to taste amazing, the real food alchemy! Others, and this includes some higher end locations**, use additives that enhance flavour, ranging from the "benign" of salt and sugar, to the "risky" of artificial flavour enhancers in pre-made sauces (note: No ADDED MSG can still mean it continues manufactured MSG!). If you knew how much salt, sugar and added flavours were in your takeaway food, you might think twice about eating it. Many takeaway meals are pre-prepared and cooked for longer periods of time, reducing their quality and nutritional value - the stories of the old Chinese takeaway reheating food is true, and the only restriction on food management is how hot the reheated food is heated to (60 degrees within 2 hours).
Cooking in allows you to prepare fresh food, and avoid overcooking the food to maximise nutrition. Further to this, the quality of the ingredients is known, as you sourced them yourself. You can read the labels on any sauces you use (and also find out just how much sugar and salt is added to many takeaway foods when you try to emulate them!), and avoid key additives that you might disagree with you. You can also source high quality, organic ingredients for your meal, enhancing not only the nutrition content but the taste.
WINNER: Cooking in by a country mile, where else can you prepare a fresh, handmade meal?!
OVERALL WINNER: Cooking in is by far the best option for your health and your hip pocket.
NOTE: If you are looking to choose takeaway and use the home delivery apps, I suggest you do your research into the cafe and restaurant, if they highlight the terms "no added MSG", it is almost guaranteed to contain MSG via sauces they use (common in Asian foods). I have even encountered one of the leading restaurants in the Sunshine Coast region using sauces that contain MSG in their meals, so it is not just the "cheap" foods that contain these sauces. There are two location on the Sunshine Coast that I know has a "whole food" guarantee, and uses only natural whole food and flavourings in their meals - Cafe Nurcha and CK Wholefoods (only open during the day). I would love to build a list of takeaway places that don't use artificial flavourings to enhance flavour, and take it easy on the salt and sugar - do you know any that fit that bill?
**I've been itching to do a little exposé on this, but I'm holding off because many hospitality businesses try their best with what they have. So I suggest buyer beware - the price tag does not always reflect the quality of the ingredients. It might look nice, but you might be surprised that the flavour has literally come from a bottle, a bottle that contains flavour enhancers and artificial ingredients.