How to stay away from takeaway

It's like a bulb turning itself on at the back of your head towards the end of the afternoon. At the beginning, maybe, the light is intermittent. You are trying to ignore it. But, as dinner time is approaching, the not-so-visible light has transformed itself into a flashy fluorescent neon light saying "takeaway". Here are my tips to defeat the takeaway craving nine times out of ten.

1. Check the content of your fridge
It's sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? Actually, I need to remind myself to do it on a regular basis. No later than last night, I started cooking some food on the assumption that I had not left over in my fridge. In fact, I had a small bowl of mushroom Stroganoff. Dommage!
Also, if you freeze food, put a label on it. Otherwise, you won't know what's inside the box. Again, it's something I experience now and again. So keep some stickers in your kitchen drawer.

2. Cook the next best thing
You're feeling like having pizza? Why don't you make a Vegetarian power tart, i.e. roasted vegetables with cheese on a sheet of puff pastry? With the VegTarga, it's another recipe invented by my husband, Ben. 

Do you fancy a slice of Veg tart? 

Peeling vegetables does take time, though. So, if you are pressed for time, it's not an option, I guess. However, if you are in a hurry or have very little energy left at the end of the day, there are other things you can cook. I love having poached eggs on bread. With a portion of green vegetables (spinach, lettuce etc.), it makes a good decent dinner, in my opinion. Making a warm vegetable salad is also a good option, I think.

3. Make your own comfort food 
Last summer, I went through a phase of craving Mexican food once a week. (It all started with a vegetarian cooking box I ordered from Riverford which contained a chilli sin carne recipe.) So I got into the habit of stoking up on kidney beans and all the necessary ingredients. After a couple of weeks, I could prepare my favourite dish du moment with my eyes closed in less than 10 minutes. 

A vegetable stir fry I prepared for my parents last year. 

Prior to that, I had gone through a vegetable stir fry period. I always had toasted sesame oil, soya sauce, fresh chillies and lime in my kitchen cupboard. Savoury crêpes or galettes (as they call them in Britanny) can also be a good alternative to takeaway. 

4. Always have some bread in the freezer
Every 2-3 weeks, I buy a big loaf of sourdough, slice it (in toaster-friendly slices) and freeze it. I can guarantee you that the money spent on good bread has saved me lots of pounds in takeaway pizza. 

Having homemade soup may not be the most exciting dinner you can have (although it grows on you, I promise). However, having fresh homemade soup with a nice slice of toasted bread is a totally different experience. It's what I have almost every Sunday night nowadays. I do feel richer for it - and slightly slimmer. Having a light dinner is a good way to keep weight under control.

5. Flex your cooking muscles
The more you cook, the easier it gets. First, inspiration will come to you more easily. You will feel more confident and will adapt recipes. Second, your taste buds may well change. I don't think that I crave greasy food as much as I used to a few years ago. Back then, I wasn't a very keen cook at all. Now, I truly enjoy cooking. Be patient. It takes time.

Chard and mushroom barley risotto made by me. : ))

What do you cook when you fancy takeaway? When you have takeaway, what do you normally have? Let me know in the comment box.