The women featured here barely use their kitchens. They’d rather spend up to £7,000 a year on takeaways to fuel their busy lifestyles. Ruth Tierney investigates
Traditionally, takeaways have been at the greasy, calorific end of the food spectrum (think curries, fish and chips and pizza). But in recent times, the ocean of difference between the takeaway food on offer to us and our US counterparts has been shrinking.
We can now pick Lebanese, Japanese, Mexican…as well as Chinese and Indian. And the healthier options, such as sushi and nutritious home-delivered snacks, are making our fast-food fixes less guilt-inducing, too.
More than a quarter of us treat ourselves to around one takeaway a week, spending up to £110 a month, with one in 20 admitting to three (in these belt-tightening times, restaurant meals can seem extravagant and food-to-go an affordable luxury). But even when choosing wisely, is it ever a good idea to view your local Balti Towers as your main food source?
We speak to three time-strapped women who love the convenience, speed and variety so much that they choose the takeaway option as many as eight or nine times a week. And our nutrition expert Dr Carrie Ruxton gives her verdict…
‘I’m a size 8 because I don’t eat junk. Yes, it’s takeaway, but it’s home-made and better than a processed ready meal’
JJ Miller, 33, a blogger and events organiser from London, has lunch and dinner delivered – despite her desk being mere metres from her kitchen.
I may work from home, but I do all the hours God sends and I don’t want to waste them in Tesco or the kitchen. I start work at 10am and am often still writing emails at 4am the next morning in my roles as blogging consultant, events organiser and website editor (thislittleladywentolondon.com) [pls leave in]. I try to have Sundays off, but generally, if I’m home, I’m in front of the latptop.
I order in sushi for lunch rather than making a sandwich. The selection box of eight pieces contains California rolls and salmon sashimi (£12), which I’ll get three times a week.
Dinner can be anything from Sri Lankan curry to udon noodles. Our local Japanese throws in vegetable spring rolls for free because we‘re regulars. I love lasagne with a side salad delivered by our local Italian restaurant. If I fancy a burger, it will be an organic steak one. We order in three nights a week (at £20 – £31 a time) and pop across to our local deli for salads on other evenings.
My partner James doesn’t get back from work until 8.30pm and I don’t want to cook then. He is director of a social media company. We log onto Hungry House (www.hungryhouse.co.uk) [pls leave in] which lists takeaway outlets and menus in your area – there are 200 for our Maida Vale postcode. The fact it’s my top bookmark shows how much we use it!
Once a week we have a three-course dinner delivered. There’s a company called www.housebites.com which does gourmet takeaways made by top chefs. We usually pick French and have aubergine gratin, coq au vin, and strawberry sponge. It costs between £35 and £40.’
One of my girlfriends hasn’t used her kitchen in six months. All my social circle are takeaway mad. We’ll go for Sunday lunch at someone’s house and it will arrive pre-made on the back of a moped – roasties, Yorkshire pudding and all. There’s no shame in it because we all have such hectic careers.
Cooking is a rare treat. When we’ve got time at the weekend, James and I go to Borough Market and buy loads of gorgeous ingredients then make a real ceremony of cooking with a bottle of wine on the go.
By ordering in, we’re saving on restaurant costs. In my 20s I ate out every night, so spend much less now. It’s a London thing. It’s becoming more like the US with take-outs from any restaurant.
We spend around £125 a week on takeaways. We’re not rich and sometimes I’ll think, “Ooh, that’s a lot,” but we work hard and we enjoy food. This is what we choose to use our money for.
I’m a size 8 because I don’t eat junk. Yes, it’s take-out, but it’s homemade and better than a processed ready-meal. I rarely finish the portions either as they’re man-size.’
Types of take-out eaten: Italian, Japanese, Sri-Lankan, French.
Go-to dish: Japanese udon noodles with pork.
Naughty treat: Organic steak cheeseburger.
Best thing about takeaways? I don’t have to leave my desk to order.
Yearly spend: £6000.
The Single City Girl
‘I haven’t used the kitchen in more than four weeks. Making dinner is a hassle’
Alice Hudson, 31, a writer and press officer from London, uses her kitchen just once a month because she can’t bear to cook for one.
My three flatmates keep themselves to themselves. There’s a single man and a couple in the place I rent in Clapham Junction, but they label their food and never share.
I eat takeaway every single night. On the rare occasions I skip it, I’ll have a bowl of cereal because there’s no point cooking for one. I haven’t used the kitchen in more than four weeks. Making dinner is a hassle and there’s too much waste. I hate tinned or frozen food. I’d rather have fresh
I try to have healthy takeaways. I frequently pick up wild salmon, cous cous and salad (£4.70) from a take-out in the City on my way home. Every lunch time I get a Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap from Burger King because it contains less than 300 calories. I’m a big fan of Thai food, and have it a couple of times a week, sticking to prawn pad Thai, steamed dumplings and vegetables with cashew nuts (around £25).
When I’m stressed, my take-out choice gets naughtier. I’ll go for beef pie, mash and gravy instead (£7). Or I’ll order stone-baked pizza, and kid myself that the vegetarian one is healthy. The pizzeria opposite my flat does two for £12, so I try to save one for the next night (but sometimes I’ll eat them both!).
If I’ve been for a drink with friends I sometimes succumb on the way home. There’s a Chinese right next door to my home that’s open until 2am, where I get noodles.
I work long hours so deserve a treat. I’m at my desk from 9.30am until 7pm, and in the evenings I write biographies of celebrities. I recently did a couple of all-nighters to meet the deadline for my book about Katy Perry, so takeaways were a lifeline.
I spend £120 a week on takeaways, but hardly anything on groceries. I don’t have a car, so I don’t want to be lugging stuff back from the supermarket.
I worry about the impact on my health, so I go to the gym a lot. I’m there three times a week. I eat tons of raspberries and blackberries between meals, and I avoid mayo, dressings and potatoes. That’s why I’m able to stay a size 8.’
Types of takeaway Thai, pizza, Chinese, gourmet burgers.
Go-to dish Wild salmon, couscous and salad.
Naughty treat Chicken, camembert and cranberry burger from the Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
Best thing about takeaways? There’s no waste.
Yearly spend £6,240