10 Takeout-Style Dishes That Are Cheaper, Faster, and Better for You

closeup of a plate of nachos with ground beef, tomatoes, onion, and guacamole
Photo: Matt D

The takeout dishes we love can come with a hefty price tag, which adds up when ordered at least once a week. You can double or triple your money savings by recreating these dishes at home. It's much faster than you think, thanks to a few store-bought shortcuts. It's often better for you too, thanks to a lighter hand with the seasoning, an alternative cooking method, or a higher ratio of veggies to meats and starches. These recipes make it cheaper, faster, and healthier to satisfy your takeout cravings at home—a win-win for you and your wallet.

01 of 10


pizza with vegetables

If your local pizza joint is on speed dial, you might not realize how easy it is to make a great pie at home. Shortcuts make it fun and fast, plus you can add any toppings you like. Use this Homemade Veggie Pizza as a starting point. Want individual pizzas? Follow our guide for easy homemade flatbread pizzas.

Make it faster: Use pre-made crusts or prepared dough from the bakery or freezer section, jarred marinara, and pre-shredded cheese. Try a fajita blend of pre-sliced onions and peppers for a veggie topper.

Make it better for you: Choose a whole-grain crust and reduced-fat shredded cheese. Decrease the ratio of meats like sausage and pepperoni to veggies.

02 of 10

Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice

No Chinese takeout order is complete without fried rice. The delivery version can be a bit heavy on the oil and soy sauce, however, and is just rather boring. Try this Vegetable Fried Rice instead, adding scrambled egg, seared shrimp, or chicken to make it a meal. Got leftover cooked rice? This is the perfect place to use it.

Make it faster: Use quick-cooking or pre-cooked microwavable rice and pre-cooked frozen veggies.

Make it better for you: Dial down the soy sauce and use just a couple tablespoons of oil. Opt for whole-grain brown rice instead of white rice. Add more veggies like bell pepper and edamame.

03 of 10

Pad Thai

Pad Thai on a white plate

This Thai classic used to be exclusive to restaurants. Now you can find traditional ingredients like rice noodles and fish sauce at nearly every supermarket. It's also an inherently fast dish: You won't be slaving away to create a traditional version at home. Give this speedy, authentic Pad Thai a try.

Make it faster: Rice noodles cook in just five minutes. The rest is as speedy as any stir-fry.

Make it better for you: Use lean proteins like chicken breast or shrimp. Skip bottled sauces so you can control the amount of sugar and salt.

04 of 10

Fried Chicken

Oven Fried Chicken on a white plate

Forget the drive-through bucket: You can make golden, crispy-coated chicken at home. Instead of deep frying, use your oven for a hands-free, mess-free, better-for-you version. Over 900 users love this Oven Fried Chicken recipe that adds a little Italian flair.

Make it faster: Look for a whole chicken that's already been separated into pieces or ask someone at the meat counter to do it for you.

Make it better for you: Lose the oil fry and bake in your oven instead.

05 of 10


closeup of a plate of nachos with ground beef, tomatoes, onion, and guacamole
Matt D

The "loaded" part of loaded nachos is really open to interpretation. At a restaurant, that usually means a river of processed cheese sauce, ground meat, and a few jalapeño slices. At home, you can add a bigger variety of fresh toppers, as in this Super Nachos recipe. Nachos are best eaten immediately anyway—no glued together, soggy chip clumps here.

Make it faster: Use taco seasoning, store-bought guacamole and pico de gallo, and canned refried beans.

Make it better for you: Use lightly salted tortilla chips and scale down the amount (a single layer on a sheet pan). Opt for more fresh toppers instead of just cheese sauce.

06 of 10

French Fries

Oven Fresh Seasoned Potato Wedges with ketchup on a white plate
Holiday Baker

Just like fried chicken, skipping the fryer is the best move for fuss-free, better-for-you French fries at home. You can also add other flavorings to the coating. These Oven Fresh Seasoned Potato Wedges are on the thick side for a crispy exterior and starchy, creamy interior.

Make it faster: Use frozen par-cooked potato wedges to skip prep and shave a few minutes off the bake time.

Make it better for you: Go easy on the salt (Parmesan and other seasonings will make up for this). If you have a heavy hand with ketchup, try making your own dipping sauce instead.

07 of 10

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan II
Brittany Kieffer

This spaghetti house classic hides a lot of calories, usually in the thickly breaded and deep fried eggplant and generous layers of cheese. A scratch-made sauce and multiple batches of frying also take lots of time. Try this faster, unfried Eggplant Parmesan instead.

Make it faster: Use jarred sauce, pre-shredded cheese, and already seasoned bread crumbs.

Make it better for you: Bake the eggplant instead of frying, use reduced-fat mozzarella and decrease the amount.

08 of 10


Chicken Souvlaki Gyro Style wrapped in foil

A fluffy pita topped with char-grilled meat and a zesty, creamy sauce… what's not to love? If you think you need to own a spit or be related to a Greek to make this sandwich at home, think again. This speedy Chicken Souvlaki makes it easy and has over 500 five-star ratings.

Make it faster: Use bottled dressing for the marinade, prepared tzatziki sauce, and already crumbled feta.

Make it better for you: Choose a lean protein like chicken and go up on the fresh veggies.

09 of 10

Chicken Tikka Masala

Curry Stand Chicken Tikka Masala Sauce

Traditional Indian dishes can be intimidating to make at home, but they shouldn't be. A well-stocked spice cabinet and a large skillet are really all you need. This Curry Stand Chicken Tikka Masala uses everyday spices and canned tomato sauce to make it easy and accessible.

Make it faster: Use canned tomatoes and serve over precooked rice. You can also use a jarred tikka masala simmer sauce.

Make it better for you: Swap the heavy cream for half & half. Stick to lean chicken breast and stretch the sauce a bit by adding veggies like spinach, peas, and diced potatoes.

10 of 10

Beef Lo Mein

Beef Lo Mein

Noodles slick with sauce, lots of beef, and a crunchy fried noodle garnish are the hallmarks of takeout beef lo mein. This Beef Lo Mein recipe makes veggies the star, with 4 cups fresh veggies to 8 ounces spaghetti. A quick homemade sauce is just enough to coat it all without dominating.

Make it faster: Use store-bought prepped produce and fajita steak that's already been sliced.

Make it better for you: Use lean flank steak, triple the veggies, cut back on the pasta, and keep sugar and salt in check in the sauce.

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