How to Order Less Takeout
Making cooking more attainable even when you're exhausted
For a million reasons, life is hard. And because we are animals, we need to eat even when life is very hard. If you’re an adult, you’re likely the one responsible for making sure you get fed at semi regular intervals and sometimes we outsource by ordering takeout. My biggest issue with takeout is with the platforms that we use to order it—they take huge fees from the restaurants and don’t treat their drivers well. Many restaurants have ways to order directly by phone or via their website and you can always tip generously in cash. I’m not here to tell you to not order takeout (I order it myself and also, I don’t know your life/circumstances).
What I am here to discuss is some ways we might take ourselves off the takeout path sometimes, not all the time, by cooking when we don’t really want to. This has a few advantages. First, you’ll get your food faster which is great if you’re quite hungry. Second, you’ll save money and who doesn’t want to save money? And third, you’ll savor the takeout more when you get it because it will be a break in your routine. During the early days of Covid, Julia and I got pizza once a week to watch the Bachelorette (honestly, we still do this a lot). It was so exciting when it was time for pizza and wine and tv time. On Instagram, I asked you what makes you want to order in instead of cooking and the most popular answer was dishes!
I’m breaking down the three most popular answers with some workarounds. One thing that underlines this entire concept is that what you cook on these nights might not be the best meal you’ve ever cooked, it might be missing an ingredient or two, it might not have all the food groups. For me, it rarely involves a recipe. But it will feed you and sometimes that’s enough. And sometimes, it will be way better than expected.
Now, shameless plug, but meal prep is a really good way to reduce takeout ordering. It’s more of a time commitment than the ideas I’m sharing below, but it really reduces the mental load to have already cooked stuff ready to go (and remix ideas to keep it fresh). If you run into this situation week after week, give meal prep a try! Erica and I include five meal prep menus and countless tips to make mealtimes easier in our upcoming ebook Meal Prep Made Simple! Preorder it right here and you’ll get two playlists perfect for washing dishes!
Obstacle 1: “the thought of washing dishes”
I got a dishwasher for the first time in my adult life in December 2021. Dishes suck. If you are in a two+ person household, I encourage a good division of labor aka make the other person do the dishes. But sometimes, we’re home alone or we live alone and then it’s all on you.
Here are a few ways to think about dishes: do you have to do them that night? Sometimes, depending on the bug situation in your home and your schedule the next day, the answer is no. You can give them a rinse and wake up after 8 hours of sleep and do them in 10 minutes and go on with your day. If you have to do them that night, give yourself rewards. Listen to a favorite podcast or playlist or have a little dessert (with no dishes involved, like a popsicle) after you finish. The other thing about dishes is that so much of the resistance is psychological. I’ve timed myself doing dishes before and it always takes way less time than you think. Now, if you have dishes that are lingering in the sink for weeks or months because of mental health stuff, I encourage you to throw them out and give yourself a fresh start (KC Davis has lots more tips on this).