Sure, you can labour for hours trying to beer batter some fish or mix up some homemade burger patties (actually that sounds like a great idea), but that is totally missing the best part of takeaway food.
The real joy of takeout is that you don't have to do anything. So, with that in mind I took it upon myself to try, test and collate the best supermarket products that do a damn good job of emulating your favourite takeaway indulgences.
Most of these require heating or cooking a little, but they do one very important thing for you that I think is what we all need right now. You don't have to think about what you are going to make for dinner, just heat and eat.
Tegel Take Outs Nashville Style Chicken
This was always going to be at the top of this list. When I road tested an air fryer a few months ago I stumbled onto this spicy coated chicken and it was so good it became a bit of a worrisome addiction in our house, we even nicknamed it NFC.
As the name suggests the idea of these spicy chicken pieces is to emulate takeout at home, which is just what we need right now. I have only made these in the air fryer but they are designed for the oven and I suspect would turn out really well that way too.
These chicken pieces have a great spicy kick, similar to a hot and spicy offering from a certain fried chicken chain, so they might be a bit much for very young kids. You could serve these with slaw on the side, if you like.
McCain Rustica Sourdough Salami & Four Cheese Pizza
Most frozen pizza comes out of the oven tasting a lot like cardboard, but McCain's 'Rustica' range have taken things up a notch. Thin crust, simple, traditional toppings and a generous smattering of cheese (although I always add a little extra), what more could you want.
I tend to place these directly on the oven rack so the bottom gets brown and crispy. You could use a pizza stone if you have one. No frozen pizza is going to have you forgetting a really good woodfired wonder, but it does hit the spot.
United Food Co. Asian Kitchen Prawn Hargow
There are a lot of brands of frozen dumplings out there, but if you are a fan of the prawn hargow at your favourite yum cha place then the United Food Co. Is the closest you are going to get while we languish in level 4.
They are simply plump prawns wrapped in a light wonton wrapper. All you need to do is steam them, then serve with a bowl of soy mixed with sriracha for some tasty times.
Richmond Food Co. Original Sausage Rolls
When we found out we needed to self-isolate we had a lovely member deliver us some groceries. I had requested some kid-friendly eats to keep in the freezer and we received these sausage rolls. I had never tried this brand before and my expectations were pretty low, but I was soon blown away.
The pastry on the outside puffed up beautifully in the oven and the filling was well seasoned, good quality sausage mince with no overpowering onion and no off-putting gristle. These are a new family favourite for sure.
Talley's Chilli Marinated Mussels
These are not takeout as such, more the kind of nibble you would get if you went out for Spanish tapas. Simply dig in with a fork and enjoy, or they are also wonderful on a crunchy seed cracker. Of course, there are other flavours of mussels to be enjoyed, but I just can't go past the chilli kick of these. Try them out if you want to pretend you are dining out, instead of being cooped up at home.
Tegel Take Outs Extra Crunchy Chicken Burgers
No, I do not own Tegal shares, they just have some really great products in the takeout-at-home space. If you want to make homemade burgers and your family are not red meat fans then these crunchy chicken burgers are worth a try.
Simply cook in the oven or air fryer till cooked through and crispy on the outside, then serve on buns with lettuce, tomato and lashings of mayonnaise.
Angel Bay Super Gourmet Burger Patties
The Angel Bay crew also do some amazing ready-made meatballs but I have been unable to find them in mainstream supermarkets, but these burger patties are easier to come by. These patties are pre-cooked so they really don't take long and you do them in the oven which means you don't even have to keep an eye on them. Serve them on buns with your favourite burger toppings, just don't forget the pickle.
KungFood BBQ Pork Steam Buns
I am not one of those people that go nuts for the pork buns at yum cha but several members of my family are devotees. I tried these frozen, then steamed buns at a food show a while back and even I have to admit that they were pretty close to the real thing. These are very easy to prepare, just pop them in a steamer and serve.
Mama San Edamame Soybeans
This is as easy as it gets and they taste just like the boxes of edamame you get from your local sushi place. There are also shelled edamame out there but for some strange reason the ones in the shells just taste better. The amazing thing about these is that all you need to do is microwave them. I pop them in a bowl, give them about two minutes, rearrange them a little, blast for 30 more seconds and then add a little extra salt.
Sealord New Zealand Hoki Pub Style Batter Flaky Fillets
Last lockdown I attempted beer battered fish fillets at home. I did the whole deep fried thing and everything but the end result was just so-so and man did I make a mess. Never again I vowed, but that doesn't mean I have to go without.
The Sealord pub style fish fillets have done all the hard work for me, I just pop them in the oven, turning once and serve with a side salad. Try serving these with Culley's Picklenaise, it is a magic pairing.
Farrah's Crispy Chicken Mild Spice Taco Kit
I am a sucker for the basic old-school mince hard shall tacos, they were the height of sophistication when I was growing up. Times have changed though and now there are some really good Mexican-inspired meal kits to choose from, my favourite being the Farrah's range.
Their tortillas are soft, flexible and never break or stick together and their spice mixes have great flavour. For something a bit special try the crispy chicken kit, the spice coating on the chicken is delightful, and very family friendly. It probably won't make you feel like you are in Mexico, but it will be tasty.
Nongshim Shin Ramyun Big Bowl Noodle Soup
Okay, this is a little bit of an indulgence on my part. My happy place food is Asian noodle soups, they are my go-to whenever I need either an emotional or physical pick-me-up. I am really missing being able to pop out for my favourite pho or udon, so I am turning to an old friend.
With a rich, spicy broth, tender noodles and enough freeze dried vegetables to make it seem almost healthy it is no surprise that Shin Ramyun noodles are popular the world over. The best part is that the only thing you need to do to prepare them is pour over boiling water. That's it.
For me, after cooking every night for what feels like forever (has it really only been 10 days?!) I am very on board with just adding water.