Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
It was reported in 2021 that Britons spend an average of £641 per year on take-away. Whilst it is supected this figure has now increased, this is only an average – meaning a huge number of us spend way over that. In fact the joy of eating food, not prepared from home is closer to £1,628 a year, this is on takeaways and restaurants. In comparison, the average UK Household then spends £4,296 on their yearly food shop. Meaning we spend almost a quarter of what we spend on food for the entire year – just to not cook our meal.
How has this happened? In truth, we are tired and access is so easy. Whereas once upon a time, those exhasution days would see us collapse on a sofa in a pit and russtle up beans on toast in the microwave – now we can have something way better delivered at the touch of a button. So take-aways have gone from being an occassional treat, to a way of life.
With this in mind, we look at the top five things we look for in a take-away and suggest a cheaper alternative:
The number one reason we all click that Just-Eat button is because we cannot be bothered to cook. We get in from work, we are tired and we are hungry. What easier way to fill yourself up than to just get that cheeky Waga delivery. However frugal blogger Jane from Shoestring Cottage suggests cooking double on the days you do cook.
“When I make a bolognese for example, I make double the amount and freeze half. This means I always have a freezer full of delicious meals, that feel like such a treat when I am tired”
My slow-cooker is my life saver. I tend to meal plan on a Sunday and then on a morning, I get the slow cooker on before work, I leave it on a lower heat all day and by the time I get home m
y house smells incredible. I often say “thanks morning Vicky” because to have a delcious home-cooked meal that you feel that you haven’t had to slave over really is a fantastic feeling. Really, don’t be afraid to use them, there are hacks and tricks to get things very tasty and wilst they can be slightly different to a cast iron pot, they are still way more delicious than any ready meal. MoneyMagpie have a guide to slow cooking here.
Another way to pe prepared is to have “dump bags” in the freezer. Filled with all of the ingredients I need to pop in my slow cooker, these bags don’t take long to prepare and it means you have bags filled with every ingredient, ready chopped and seasoned that are needed to just pop in the slow cooker early morning.
Whilst ready meals can be a good back-up, they often don’t feel like a treat. Whilst supermarkets and the likes of Charlie Bighams really try and corner a more luxury market.. they are still ready meals. However up and coming company HomeCooks offer chef made food, delivered to your door.
Last week we recieved some PR samples and can confirm that these meals were absolute restaurant standard and created that treaty feel of a take-away. Resident Magpie foodie Julia said “Every single meal had flavour in abundance and was in a different league to any high-end ready meal. This was expert cooking delivered at home.”, she went on to explain that these meals have all been delivered in ecologically sound packaging and found the menu so exciting ” I live rurally so said goodbye to take-aways a few years away. To have chef cooked meals, in my pyjamas, in the joy of my own home, was a joy I hadn’t even realised I had missed”
These meals start around the £5 mark and are made by incredible chefs and sent to your door in a convenient frozen format.
This is all well and good but what if you don’t fancy any of the above? How you break through the apathy of what to eat can be a big part of your decision. So here are some tips:
This is something we strongly believe in! When you’ve got ten minutes on an evening, work out what meals you could create during the coming week based on what you’ve got in the fridge or freezer, and plan five days’ worth of meals like chicken satay (an easy one we had last night), a quick curry with chicken and an easy-to-make curry sauce block and microwave rice; mac and cheese with cut-up hot dogs (Chandler Bing’s favourite dish) and so forth. You’ll thank your past self for planning ahead.
Once you get past the noise, using a food hashtag like #mealtips or #quickrecipes will lead you to a stream of great food ideas that will inspire you to delve into your cupboards and rustle something up you hadn’t even thought of. Just looking now, we can see things like luxury cheese on toast (it’s all in the Henderson’s relish) and some great meals made up of only 5 simple ingredients that will give you nutritional benefits as well: a tray of roasted veg and some good sausages; everything through to a simple coq au vin (really easy) or some crazy easy and delicious homemade omelettes and pizzas that won’t break the monthly budget or tax your brain.
Everyone’s got one or two of these. We’ve mentioned the easy-peasy mac and cheese, so what about your favourite soup, packaged or homemade, with a hefty chunk of crusty bread? One of our quick faves is mushy baked beans on toast with lashings of butter and cheese, and even some bacon bits and (bear with us) Marmite? Yum. Or Yuck, the point is that there is always a quick meal idea you can rustle up.