A year without takeout


Chinese shrimp and broccoli with a simple soy sauce

No more takeout or delivery for a full year. That was my New Year’s resolution on January 1, 2018. Why? I cook in front of live audiences for a living. I’d find myself driving home at 10 or 11 o’clock after a night of cooking farm-fresh, healthy food only to stop at the fast food restaurant near our house for a late dinner. I finally said, “what am I doing? I’m killing myself!”

How’d I do it? I’ve got three tips:

  1. Cook your favorite takeout or delivery dishes at home. I’ve made Chinese stir-fries, Thai curries, pizza, tacos and lots and lots of dumplings from all over the world. They taste better, cost a lot less and are often ready in the same time it would take to get them delivered.
  2. Do it your way. Some people are most successful with a free day each week. For me, going cold turkey was critical. By not giving myself a choice I knew that if I wanted to eat I would be cooking. That cut out any question or temptation.
  3. Have a Plan B. I always have a few left over sauces – salsas, vinaigrettes, compound butters etc… in the fridge which lets me take some steamed veggies and a quickly sautéed chicken thigh and turn it into a meal I can get excited about eating in 20 minutes or less.

How’d I do? There were two nights when friends brought over chicken nuggets and one when some houseguests ordered Chinese. The effort delivered better tasting food, more money in the bank and lots of new cooking adventures. I enjoyed it so much I’m doing it again this year!

Chinese shrimp and broccoli

Serves 6

How did I give up takeout for a year? With recipes that deliver the flavor and ease of ordering. Erase the apps, stock your fridge and enjoy eating well – for less – at home.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
  • 1 pound 21-25 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli cut into florets, about 6 cups
  • 1/4 cup rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • Ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  • Warm 1 tbs oil in a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Ass shrimp and cook, turning once, until opaque and nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. 
  • Return pan to medium-low heat with remaining 2 tbs oil and garlic. Remove garlic after 3-4 minutes, being careful not to burn.
  • Increase heat to medium and add broccoli. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes until bright green.
  • Add rice wine or sherry. Cover pan and cook until liquid has evaporated and broccoli is crisp tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix together soy, cornstarch and 1/4 cup warm water with a pinch of salt. Season lightly with white pepper.
  • Return shrimp to pan and warm through, about 1 minute. Add sauce to pan and stir until it is reduced and coats broccoli and shrimp. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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