Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Tuesday, 17 March 2015
10 Takeaway Hacks For You, Your Night In And Your Tummy
The Debrief: We all spend a load of money on takeaways, don't we? So we might as well spend it right...
The humble takeaway is such a staple of our lives that, around the world in 2013, people spent a whopping £1 billion on takeaways through Just-Eat alone, making the company £157 million. As for us Brits, well, it rains so much more here than it does anywhere else - we're convinced - so obvs, we're bang into the takeaways too. But as the digital world brings us ever closer to so many more takeaway options, how do you choose? How do you sort the rubbish stuff from exactly the food you want?
As well as shopping around - as well as Just-Eat, there's Hungry House, Dine-In, Jinn (who will deliver ANYTHING provided you're within a teeny tiny patch of London), Deliveroo and some other, more local delivery service - and using a student discount wherever possible, here are some hacks to get the best takeaway your lazy self deserves.
Some things just aren't built to travel
The world is an incredible place; at just a tap of your fingers, you can get someone to make food to order, motorcycle through the pouring rain and then get past your broken buzzer to bring you a plate of food. But don't take advantage of this willy-nilly. Some things, like french fries, just aren't built to travel. (Chip shop chips, provided they're properly wrapped, tend to do ok). Other foodstuffs you should avoid via delivery out of poor taste rather than health issues? Salad (wilty) eggs (just wrong) and burgers (McDonald's aren't stupid. If delivery was a good idea they'd be doing it already).
Cardboard containers are about as cool as freezing cold food
You've seen people in American TV series eating 'take-out' from cardboard boxes. Thing is, most of those people live in New York, where (we assume) there are as many take-outs as yellow taxi cabs and Starbuckses. The average delivery time is therefore shorter than it takes that poncey 'home delivery made healthy' place you're ordering from to cart you your ice-cold noodles. Plus, Americans' cardboard boxes are pretty cubic. Our flat rectangular containers mean - in simple physics - that all the heat escapes before you get to taste the food. Plus, you can't exactly re-use cardboard containers as tupperware, can you?
Have a long hard think about quality versus quantity
Takeaways are ordered for two reasons. One, you just need someone else to cook you dinner because you're so busy. Two, you're treating yourself (and others, more on that later). If it's the former, you probably feel shit anyway, so there's no need to order too much, and treat yourself with flavour. If it's the latter, go wild, hog out, that's what you're here to do, right? And that Chinese place delivering bucketloads of battered pork in gloopy infra-red sauce, rice busting out of the tupperware, tasteless prawn crackers larger than your head and pale white chicken with a vegetable-soft texture? Only ever order if you're atrociously hungover and can blame it on still being drunk.
The shorter the menu, the better the food
Found a listing for a place doing Chinese food AND Indian food? Or doing kebabs AND Thai? Pizza and Korean? The coming together of different foodstuffs is incredible and its history very rich - like, did you know burgers originated in Mongolia? But imagine the hustle-bustle of a kitchen trying to knock out all this food. Can all of it be fresh? No, of course not. Like a good album (remember those), the shorter a menu is, the better the content will be
Poppadoms are a waste of space and packaging
Poppadoms are way too big to be kept well on a trip over to yours. Plus, there are actual places that will be so crap as to deliver you HALF a poppadom. If you find a place that delivers certain things as standard - soy sauce on sushi, prawn crackers with Chinese, dips and a mini garden table with a pizza - stick with this place, because it is a good place.
Want dips and condiments? Trust yourself and no-one else
Unless you've just moved house, a takeaway will always need your support in the form of good condiments. And, unfortunately, not all takeaways are good with supplying the add-ons. Instead of waiting to be delivered a half-thimbleful of mango chutney/soy sauce/ketchup/mayo/BBQ sauce buy in your own. Not only is it cheaper, it's a way of ensuring you get exactly the amount you want. And cook rice yourself - it's healthier that way and saves you money (to be spent on more takeaways). Oh, and if you really want to be smart, keep a tin of beans at home just in case you don't even want that takeaway anyway!
Stick to old reliable
Great takeaways - tailored to all your individual needs and choices - are hard to find. So if you find a good one, stick to it. If you find a good meal? Stick to that, too. Because, really, if you're cosying up in the evening and getting a takeaway instead of going out into the wide world to experience all its wonders, adventure really shouldn't be on the cards. Plus, read our earlier point about some food just not working via delivery.
Don't wear nice clothes
If your bra is on while eating a takeaway, you're doing it wrong. Same goes for nice clothes; the accumulation of grease, turmeric in curry (it can even stain your fingers!) and your waist means you need to be very, very comfy while eating your takeaway.
Though some online delivery companies can hold your card details, try to keep a bit of shrapnel lying about so you can give it to the person who's been slaloming through wind, rain, sleet and snow to get your meal to you. Tipping isn't for everyone, no, and you've already paid for the meal, but see it as a personal tax, a deterrent for you to stop being so lazy you can't make it to the corner shop for a Dr. Oetker.
Eat with friends
A takeaway shouldn't be a lone thing. Wherever you can, get a bunch of people together to chip in for their own dishes (very easily calculated online, too) and smile with them as you consider how little washing up is necessary. Not because they're your mates or you like them, but because the more of you there are, the more likely it is you can try a bit of everything for cheaper. Plus, if you intend to order for two people, it makes it less upsetting when the takeaway comes with two sets of cutlery.
ELF AND SAFETY
According to the NHS, it's healthier to eat stuff that isn't battered and go for fat chips over thin chips (less surface area to pick up the oil, we guess). Want our advice? Be really careful when re-heating food. Especially rice. All rice can have spores on it, that disappear when cooked. When cooling slowly, though, the spores can turn into bacteria which causes diarrhoea and vomiting. Not exactly what you want after that lamb rogan josh. To avoid, put the rice in the fridge ASAP after your dinner and reheat all the way through (once) if you're doing leftovers.
Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson
Tags: Food Glorious Food
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