With the economy going into free fall, the media has been highlighting ways of surviving through this credit crunch. One particular topic that affects all of us is food – food prices have shot up considerably. Many things that used to be 99p have now crossed that £1 threshold and those pennies sure add up throughout the week. As a bit of an exercise, I thought I’d break down the costs of a takeaway and a fakeaway (defined by the BBC as “A home-made, belt-tightening version of a takeaway – think, a curry made with a jar of sauce, bag of rice and a packet of poppadoms from the supermarket.”). Of course, since this is a food blog, I’ll be making my curry from scratch!

The Indian Takeaway (a typical order):

This was ordered from a little takeaway joint down the road. Unfortunately, this little place has now closed, giving me yet another reason to cook Indian food at home! There are other Indian restaurants nearby but this was the tastiest and our favourite and thus I’ll use the numbers from them.

Indian Takeaway

£5.95 – some chicken based curry, mostly sauce and not much chicken
£2.95 – chana masala
£2.95 – saag paneer
£2.40 – two naans
Total – £14.25

We always finish everything when ordering takeaway. And who knows how much oil there is in there? £14.25 seems reasonable for dinner for two but if you were to have a couple meals like this each week, it starts to add up.

The Indian Fakeaway:

Quick Chicken Curry

A Fakeaway!

I cooked a simple chicken curry, adapted from this recipe at Quick Indian Cooking, and a cabbage sabzi from this trusty recipe from One Hot Stove.

£1.95 – a large chicken breast from the Middle Eastern shop
£0.58 – a tin of chopped tomatoes
£0.30 – two onions
£0.50 – half a large cabbage from the farmers’ market
£0.40 – basmati rice for two
negligible but let’s say 30p – turmeric, chili powder, dried chili flakes, cumin, coriander (fresh leaves and crushed seeds), brown mustard seeds, garam masala, salt
Total – £4.33

There was enough to feed the both of us and provide leftovers for one, so really, we were feeding three with this meal. It costs less than a third of the price of the takeaway, it fills us up, and it’s a lot healthier too. If you were to use a jar of sauce, the price would be pushed up another pound or two, which is still significantly cheaper than the takeaway.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’ve left out energy costs and timing. Of course it will take longer to cook the fakeaway but there’s always a sense of accomplishment when cooking your own meal that doesn’t happen when you lift the cardboard lid from the aluminium tinfoil case. And if you need the push, gosh, that curry recipe is tasty and that cabbage recipe is very easy and so delicious! Of course, I’m not giving up takeaways completely; they are still very convenient after a long, tiring day at work and I do like a fresh naan. However, this exercise will have me thinking twice when I just feel lazy to cook and overall, I hope to reduce the number of takeaways we eat, increase the number of meals cooked at home, and keep eating out at the same level. I think that’s an alright balance perhaps…

How about you? Have you been cooking more, having fewer takeaways, or perhaps eating out less lately?