Make healthier, cheaper versions of your favorite takeout meals


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Are you addicted to takeout food? You are not alone. Grubhub, owners of popular online food delivery portals GrubHub and Seamless, reported a whopping $69.1 million in revenue in their most recent quarter earnings release. Takeout is big business, and with hectic schedules, it’s also convenient.

Unfortunately, ordering frequently can be hard on your wallet and your waistline. I’m on a quest to break myself of my delivery addiction to save money and gain awareness of what’s in my meal. I’m not suggesting you give up those yummy comforting classics, but it is  possible to make your own versions of takeout food. I promise you don’t have to be a kitchen pro to create these fast, delicious meals.


Simply sweet and sour

Sweet and sour chicken is a quintessential Chinese food staple, but I am through ordering fried hunks of protein with a pint of neon orange sauce. I have to thank Source: Damn DeliciousChungah at Damn Delicious for bringing this Sweet and Sour recipe into my life. The combination of simple ingredients creates pure magic. Ketchup, sugar, vinegar: who doesn’t have this stuff lying around? I have never, ever in my life had such a delicious sweet and sour dish, and I swear, it’s even better the next day. Vegetarians, this recipe also works incredibly well with extra firm tofu, though you may have to adjust cooking time. I shortened my tofu cooking time to about 40 minutes. Serve these perfect little morsels of amazingness with white rice, or try this pineapple fried rice for extra zing. You don’t even have to miss the experience of eating your goodies straight from the carton with this affordable, adorable porcelain takeout serving bowl from CB2. Add store-bought fortune cookies or make your own if you’re feeling super ambitious) and enjoy!


Perfect pizza and parmesan

The biggest obstacle in my takeout ban is pizza… yummy, carb-y, cheesy pizza. Luckily, it’s cheap and easy to make, and you don’t even have to start from scratch. (Here’s Bobby Flay’s recipe for homemade dough if you want to go all out.) Ask your friendly neighborhood pizzeria if you could buy some of their dough or check out the grocery store’s refrigerated section. Trader Joe’s has great dough. You could also up your veggie intake with one of these cauliflower crust recipes from Tone It Up, which includes options for vegans as well as cheese lovers. As for toppings, go nuts! Tofurky Italian Sausage, pesto sauce, arugula, Kalamata olives, fresh mozzarella, homemade marinara, artichokes, peppers, sliced chicken, goat cheese, spinach, walnuts — it’s totally up to you.

Since I like some extra cheese with my cheese, I must eat my pizza with a side of ooey gooey mozzarella sticks. This lightened-up version by Averie Cooks is crazy easy and affordable. Skinnytaste’s baked mozzarella sticks are more traditional and still keep the calorie count way down.

Source: Skinnytaste

All you fans of parmesan-style dishes are in luck with these health conscious recipes. Ellie Krieger’s baked chicken parmesan brings the flavor without bringing all the fat of the traditional version and is easy to whip up, even on busy weeknights. If you’re more a meatball fan, you must try Baker by Nature’s amazing mozzarella-stuffed turkey meatballs. This tasty meatball parm perfection is ready in the time it would take for your delivery order to arrive. Vegetarians and those following a gluten-free diet can indulge in this skillet eggplant parmesan from the Roasted Root that relies on nutty, salty Pecorino Romano to boost the flavor. You won’t even miss the breading.


Stacked up

One of life’s greatest pleasures is devouring nachos from a tinfoil plate while poring over fashion magazines. Oh, just me, then? Cool. My point being, nachos are awesome but not really the healthiest of meals. Damn Delicious comes to the rescue yet again with this delightful Chicken Tortilla Stack that is not only economical and healthy but also holds up to reheating way better than nachos. If chicken isn’t your thing, try shredded pork from the slow cooker or vegetarian refried beans. Top with olives, tomatoes and pickled jalapeños, and pair it with Crème de la Crumb’s mango pomegranate guacamole for an extra delicious kick of nutrition.

So back away from the menus, crank up some tunes and cook these takeout staples — you may just give up ordering altogether. Tell us: what are your favorite takeout dishes?