I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that the idea of a takeaway is so often much more exciting than the reality. And it's expensive too, especially if you have a house full of hungry mouths and big appetites. So here is a round-up of 30 ideas for takeaway alternatives that you can create in your own kitchen. Some of them are full recipes and others are ideas to take what you have to a 'takeaway level'. I've also included ideas for what to stock up on so that you are always prepared to rustle something up.
Of course, there will be times when only a full-blown, proper, delivered-to-you-door takeaway will do, but for the rest of the time here are some alternatives...
What am I looking for from a takeaway alternative?
Realistically, there are a lot of boxes that need ticking in order to make the cut -
- Quick and easy to prepare (so that I can drink a glass of wine at the same time as preparing it)
- Tastes good (goes without saying)
- Everyone will eat it with enthusiasm (I don't want any moaning/whinging)
- It's a brainless crowd pleaser
- Easy to eat in front of the TV (or is that just me?)
- It doesn't create loads of washing up (because, really, that can be such a mood killer)
Here are the broad takeaway categories that I'm going to cover -
- Other things with rice
- Chilli with all the toppings
- Other things in bread
Noodles are always a popular choice when we order a takeaway, so they crop up regularly when we're on the hunt for alternatives.
Ideas to create some takeaway excitement with noodles -
- Try eating with chopsticks (although full disclosure, I only ever last about 10 seconds)
- Pull a bottle of chilli sauce out of the fridge so that everyone can spice up their noodles if they wish (I'm a fan of sriracha)
This Quick and Easy Butter Chicken is perhaps the only curry that I make that is rapid enough when cooked from scratch, to be a viable takeaway alternative. Please do try it - to quote my teenage daughter, 'This is the real deal, Mum' ♡
I do like to make other curries when I've got a bit of time on my hands and store them in the freezer for when a takeaway alternative is needed -
I find cooking rice to be really dull and to avoid it when I'm not in the mood (or when I'm wanting a takeaway vibe), I keep a stash of cooked rice in the freezer, portioned so that it defrosts easily and just needs reheating.
Ideas to create some takeaway excitement with a curry -
I wonder if a lot of the thrill of a curry comes from the side dishes -
- Mango chutney
- Raita - there's a recipe here to make some yourself (it's super easy)
- Fresh tomato chutney - again, here's a recipe
- Samosas - a few samosas might also be an exciting and simple addition. They freeze well and heat up easily.
- Naan bread - keep a stash of frozen, shop-bought Naan breads in the freezer. Make them taste special by spreading butter on the bread when you take it out of the oven. You'll find online advice to 'melt the butter and brush it over the heated Naan'; I spread mine with a knife straight from the tub, saving on washing up (see above!). To take your Naan bread to the next level, try using Garlic Butter (Lurpak does a great one). A sprinkling of fresh herbs could be a final fancy flourish ♡
I do think there's something exciting about an Indian spread made up of lots of different dishes. Obviously, if I'm wanting the ease of a takeaway, I definitely don't want to be making multiple recipes but instead, this is when random leftover portions of curry stashed in the freezer come into their own. Be sure to label them to avoid unpleasant combinations! The image below was a recent 'takeaway alternative dinner - I had some frozen Quick and Easy Butter Chicken and added a small portion of random chicken curry that I'd also stashed in the freezer. The combination was delicious ♡
3 Other things with rice
Of course, there are all sorts of quick and easy things you can create with rice, but this Kimchi Fried Egg Rice is special. It uses cooked grains (I used brown rice), stir-fried with some kimchi, a little soy sauce, a carrot cut into ribbons with a peeler, sliced spring onions and topped with a fried egg. The combination of flavours and textures is definitely worthy of being a takeaway alternative and you can put it together at incredible speed.
To be honest, I never think that burgers perform all that well as a takeaway particularly when the food needs to travel to get to you. They need to be eaten as soon as they're put together and on the occasions when I do order one there's a lot of sogginess going on by the time it arrives.
So, how do you create takeaway worthy burgers at home?
Firstly there's the burger - there is a big, wide world beyond just beef. I'm a fan of a Pork and Apple burger, but Lamb burgers are also delicious as are Veggie burgers. I very rarely make my own burgers, but I've found the shop-bought varieties we all like and I keep some in the freezer.
Then there's the bread - you get to choose your favourite bread when you create your own. I'm a fan of a brioche bun. How about you?
Ideas to create some takeaway excitement with burgers -
It HAS to be about the chips and, of course, the toppings. Here are a few to get you started -
- 5 minute Lime Pickled Red Onions - everything tastes better with these on top
- Bacon - cook it beforehand in the oven on a baking tray
- Cheese - grated or sliced
- Caramelised onions - keep a stash in the freezer
- Lettuce - shredded is my preference
- Sauces - ketchup, mayo, mustard, chutney etc
- Hummus - not an obvious choice, but delicious
- Jalapeño chillis - straight from the jar
- Tomatoes - fresh and sliced
- Avocado - sliced or mashed with a little lime juice and some seasoning
- Kimchi - a Korean spicy, fermented cabbage which is delicious
- Coleslaw - homemade or from the deli counter
If burgers feel like too much effort for a takeaway alternative, then maybe hotdogs are the answer.
So, how do you create takeaway worthy hotdogs at home?
Firstly there's the sausage - for ease, I always have some cooked sausages in the freezer (perfect for this kind of occasion) or I might opt for hotdog sausages from a jar or a can which are easy to warm on the hob or in the microwave.
Then there's the bread - I'd be prepared to bet that hotdog rolls are available at even the smallest of local shops which is handy. Do you cut yours along the top or along the side? Ooooh, controversial …
Ideas to create some takeaway excitement with hotdogs -
Again, it's all about the chips and the toppings. For hotdogs, I would always opt for ketchup and American mustard (with an option of mayo for other family members) and a generous dollop of caramelised onions with a final flourish of 5 Minute Lime Pickled Red Onions.
I suspect it may be down to the DIY aspect of tacos, but I do find them to be kind of exciting without even having to try that hard. They also feel like a way of turning everyday ingredients (like fish fingers) into a dinner that might rival a takeaway.
They are also versatile in the sense that you can scoop all sorts of ingredients into a taco (see below for Chilli) and it's an easy and delicious way to turn leftovers into something with some street credentials. Full disclosure - I refuse to give hard-shelled tacos the time of day (WAY too messy and highly impractical when I'm also trying to balance a glass of wine) but you may feel differently.
7 Chilli with all the toppings
Chilli feels like a regular midweek dinner, don't you think? It can, however, start to masquerade as a takeaway alternative if you serve it differently. Chilli Con Carne freezes like a dream so it's a perfect candidate for cooking in advance to avoid the need to cook on an evening when you are least inclined.
Ideas to create some takeaway excitement with chilli -
- Serve it on nachos - credit to #1 teenage son for cooking this for us. Here's his method -
- Arrange the nachos in a single layer on a large baking sheet (lined with baking parchment).
- Sprinkle a mixture of grated cheddar and mozarella cheese over the nachos and spoon the chilli over the top.
- Top with more of the cheese mixture and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Top with sour cream, guacamole, spring onions, cherry tomatoes, coriander, a few Pickled Red Onions and a squeeze of lime
- Turn into a burrito bowl - rice, guacamole, sweetcorn salsa, tomato salsa, grated cheese, sour cream, pickled red onions, jalapeño chillis
- Serve it in a taco
8 Other things in bread ...
These are easy to eat and definitely tick the 'brainless crowdpleaser' box.
Grilling some shop-bought kebabs and serving them with wraps, salad, pickled red onions and cacik (a yoghurt and cucumber based dressing, similar to Tzatziki) is another no-brainer for a takeaway alternative.
So, are you feeling inspired that takeaway alternatives that TRULY deliver (as opposed to the 'arriving on a bike' type of delivery) might be possible? There are ways to make the whole thing easier and less like hard work. The first is to have some ideas of what to make (see above) and the second is to have a few basics in stock at home (see below)
|Some handy things to have in the CUPBOARD for takeaway alternatives||Why?|
|Instant noodles||Easy Peasy Chicken Noodles|
|Dried noodles||Chicken Yakisoba|
|Potatoes||To make chips - because chips are|
the answer to everything!
|Hotdog sausages in a can/jar||To make hotdogs|
|Soft tacos and wraps||To make tacos and wraps with all sorts of fillings|
|Some handy things to have in the |
FRIDGE for takeaway alternatives
|Garlic butter||To spice up a Naan bread when it's hot from the oven|
|5 Minute Lime Pickled Red Onions||Everything looks and tastes better with these on top|
|All the condiments - ketchup, mayo, mustard, chutney, kimchi, jalapeño chillis, sriracha||Makes everything taste better (and more takeaway authentic!)|
|Some handy things to have in the |
FREEZER for takeaway alternatives
|Rice - cooked and portioned for a quicker defrost||To serve with curry, chilli and as part of Kimchi Fried Egg Rice|
|Samosas||To add a little extra to a curry|
|Naan bread||To add some thrill to a curry|
|Frozen burgers||To make great burgers at home|
|Caramelised onions||For burgers and hotdogs|
|Cooked sausages||For easy hotdogs|