The Take-Out Trap

Looking to get out of the house the other night (see the post about 168 hours and an infant), and not wishing to cook, I decided to try something I rarely do: get take-out. I was reminded that I don’t do it for a simple reason: it isn’t that fast.

First, you have to get to the restaurant. If it’s remotely busy (which you hope it is because a dead restaurant is not a good sign for food quality!) then you have to wait in line. Then you have to wait for them to make your food. Even if you’ve called ahead, the whole thing isn’t going to take less than 5 minutes, and probably more like 10. Then you add in the extra travel time — again, a minimum of 5-10 minutes on both sides — and soon you’re talking a half hour.

By contrast, scrambling some eggs and throwing some frozen veggies in the microwave takes a grand total of 10 minutes, meaning you could be done with dinner by the time your take-out would be on the table. Boiling angel hair pasta also takes less than 10 minutes. Throw on a jar of sauce, cut up some tomatoes and mozzarella and open the Chianti and you’ve got Italian night in 15 minutes flat. Thin sliced pork chops topped with BBQ sauce take less than 10 minutes to cook on the stove top. You can throw some peaches into the pan and make up a box of instant couscous and, again, you’ve got a full home-cooked dinner in less than 15 minutes. Indeed, Rachel Ray has made a whole career of showing people meals that take less than 30 minutes.

Now, obviously, there are certain restaurant dishes which are hard to copy at home. I am not about to attempt my own sushi. And some people just hate to cook. If that’s you, then there’s no point spending even 15 minutes on it. But even though I brought along my journal to take advantage of the 10 minutes or so I knew I’d have to wait for my food (10 uninterrupted minutes are a beautiful thing when you’ve got a newborn) my take-out experience reminded me that there’s nothing particularly efficient about eating this way.

One thought on “The Take-Out Trap

  1. This is yet another reason to avoid so-called fast food: not only is it not really food, it isn’t fast either. You can get a fresher meal faster in a deli or a diner than by waiting on line at McDonald’s et al. for lukewarm glop that’s been waiting even longer than you have. And in a deli or a diner you’ll be eating things your great-grandparents would recognize as food.

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