The cost of takeaway meals

By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Last week Choice magazine reported that almost half the Australian population order takeaway an average of 2.5 times a week. This fact and the poor choices people are making are contributing to the perilously high numbers of obese and chronically ill people around the country. Let's face it, fewer and fewer people sit down to eat a home cooked meal with their family anymore.

Less than 50 years ago eating out was considered to be a treat - a rare occasion when we ordered food that we probably never made at home. Back then it was OK to order entrée and dessert because back then it was a rare occasion when we ate three courses in one meal. Back then fewer people were fat!

Fast forward the clock and today most people's homes have a place where the takeaway menus are stored. From a range of cuisines they are leafed through on any day of the week - 2 ½ times a week it seems. It may be hugely convenient but when you do the maths the convenience comes at a huge price especially when you consider the minimum order to home deliver. It's also a huge cost to your health.

Think about Italian takeaway for example. Your kids decide they want pizza: One would be enough but because there's a minimum order to deliver you order 2 plus some garlic bread and soft drinks. Before you know it you've more than doubled your spend AND your kid's kilojoule, fat and salt intake.

You and your husband fancy Indian. You like butter chicken, he's a beef vindaloo man, and while those two dishes with rice would be enough, what's a curry without the paddadums, samosas, naan bread and pickle? Given that every takeaway outlet has its own recipes it's almost impossible to say how many kJ's and fat you'd be consuming in a meal this size, but it's reasonably safe to say you wouldn't get much change from 1,500 calories (about 6,000 kJ) and $50.

It's a similar story with most of the other takeaway meals. Thought to be one of the healthiest takeaway choices, Thai fish cakes, green curry or satay chicken will stack on the kJ's, as will Chinese sweet and sour pork and deep fried spring rolls. Lebanese may seem healthy - and indeed the tabouleh and other vegetable dishes are quite a good choice - but it's the flat bread with creamy dips and deep fried falafel that add to your expense and waistline.

One of our favourite Friday night easy meals is home-made chili prawn pizza and salad. If I was buying all the ingredients from scratch here is a rough idea of what it would cost.

Note: All prices are approximate

2 x pizza bases ($8), pasta and chili sauce ($3.50), mozzarella ($6.30), garlic prawns ($9.99), rocket ($4), parmesan ($8). It comes to a total of $39.79, which is quite a lot but I can use some of the ingredients again.

Pizzas require very little sauce so I cook the rest up with premium minced beef, carrot and onion to make a quick Bolognese sauce. Baked between lasagne sheets, spinach, and the leftover grated mozzarella, the additional ingredients cost approximately $13.60 adding to my initial outlay and I've made 2 meals for 4 people for under $55.

It sounds easy and it is particularly when you consider the scientific evidence connecting eating out (or ordering in) with increased obesity and poor nutrition - particularly in children.

When you're ordering in as much as 2 ½ times a week, you must make healthier choices or adopt the cheaper alternative and get back into the kitchen to cook for yourself.

The relationship between good health and fresh produce is undeniable. Consuming more nutrient dense low energy fresh vegetables and fruit, combined with lean protein, good fats and wholegrain carbohydrates is the key to a healthy diet.

When you eat out, or order in you are far less likely to achieve that goal.

If you want to live a healthy life and you want your children to follow in your footsteps there are really only two choices:

Order healthy options when you order out OR

Cook at home.

Please share some your easy meal at home ideas with everyone by commenting on this article below


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