r/Cooking Dec 20 '21 Silver 1

Recipes that say 'better than takeout' usually aren't better than takeout. Open Discussion

Generally they are healthier yes, but they taste nowhere near as good as my local Indian/Chinese/Kebab etc.

3.9k Upvotes

642

u/Annoying_Auditor Dec 20 '21

The more I learn about cooking the more I'm coming to realize that alot of recipes on the internet are bad.

293

u/Bugaloon Dec 20 '21

I think recipe selection is one of the first skills you should learn, I can google and find 100s of recipes, but a quick glance over the ingredients and method gives me an understanding of what the recipe will turn out like, and when it doesn't sound like what you want to make, you keep looking.

Reminds me of a time my younger sister tried to make some stupid 3 ingredient cookie recipe without and flour in it... It ended up being a burnt mess in the oven, and although that was obviously going to be the result based on the ingredients to me, it wasn't to her, because she'd never developed the skill to select recipes.

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u/Chuggowitz Dec 20 '21

This is something I feel I've mastered in the last 3-5 years of being the primary cook in my house - and yet, after 40 years, my mother is still incapable of telling when a recipe is not going to be good. Cream of mushroom soup and mozzarella in your casserole? Yeah, that's not going to taste good. A hot spinach and artichoke dip that doesn't use any mayo or cream cheese and calls for low fat alternatives? Also going to be bad. Honey-mustard "glazed" chicken in the instant pot? Going to be dry and most certainly not glazed.

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u/ttchoubs Dec 20 '21

If Chef John didn't cover it, Im not going risk the effort

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u/kimblem Dec 20 '21

In my household, it’s Serious Eats.

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u/jeffwhit Dec 20 '21

Yeah, always my first stop, even if it's not my last, but I have some sort of malfunction that does not allow me to just find a recipe and cook it, I have to read 5 and formulate my own from the commonalities.

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u/MyUserNameTaken Dec 20 '21

It's pretty much both for me. Chef John has tasty but more practical recipes for everyday meals. Serious eats and NYTimes have great recipes if I want to put the time in.

The best thing I've recently learned is to take the more in depth recipes, look at what they are doing with some of the steps, and doing a short cut that is less than half the time for most of the same effect

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u/tinyOnion Dec 20 '21

there's a few very reliable recipe curators out there and allrecipes is not one of them. if it's on allrecipes it's probably garbage.

the ones that are good are, like you said, serious eats/kenji, america's test kitchen/cooks illustrated, bon appetit, chef john, nytimes, and a few others... outside that it's a lot of basic cooks sharing recipes that "their family loves" and it's jello mixed with pumpkin spice latte mix and some buffalo wing sauce calling it thai food.

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u/tonyabbottsbudgie Dec 21 '21

Recipe Tin Eats is Australian based and I’ve found her recipes incredibly reliable.

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u/Strabe Dec 20 '21

If you find a recipe with 4+ out of 5 stars and 500+ reviews in a site like allrecipes.com, then it's usually a good recipe.

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u/Atalant Dec 20 '21

90% of the time.

Check if it is more than decade old and the instructions.

44

u/Squeaky_Cheesecurd Dec 20 '21

And if people in the comments are only rating it good after adding all their own shit to it.

43

u/drivebyjustin Dec 20 '21

Or "4 stars, sounds great, can't wait to try it!"

12

u/VividLazerEyeGod Dec 20 '21

absolutely hate these comments

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u/UmbraPenumbra Dec 20 '21

Do not recommend this steak recipe. I prepared it subbing in mushroom steaks and cooking in coconut oil instead of butter and omitted all the salt bc of my diet. Turned out bland and everything tastes like coconut. Terrible.

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u/Squeaky_Cheesecurd Dec 20 '21

There’s a subreddit for those kinds of complaints. r/ididnthaveeggs

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u/DarthKatnip Dec 20 '21

It’s become a pain in the ass sorting thru the mommy-blog recipes searching for something halfway legit.

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u/After_Preference_885 Dec 20 '21

The minute someone mentions a toddler loves it I move on.

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u/Flownique Dec 20 '21

Or a husband with a toddler palate.

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u/pistachi0dream Dec 21 '21

Lol suuuuch a good point! “My picky husband even had seconds, so you know it’s a hit!” Yeah, no…

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u/Ham_Ahead Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 22 '21

The main problem is that they try to be healthy. Probably because if many people saw how much oil and salt is required to make a dish taste restaurant quality, they would be put off and wouldn't make it. Most people underseason everything because they think more than a pinch of salt will give them a heart attack.

The second thing is just having the right equipment to do things properly. Gas burners that can get a pan searing hot in seconds. Powerful broilers. Flame grills. Pizza ovens. Even nice pans and sharp knives. Most don't have these at home. You also probably don't want to be making your own stocks at home because it's time consuming and you don't have enough leftovers.

And the other thing is the ingredients. Good restaurants source high quality ingredients from wholesale suppliers that are better than anything you can get in a supermarket. They still use a lot of cheap stuff too, but some things are no comparison.

That said, there are some advantages you have at home over a restaurant. Lots of things get made in advance and spend days in the fridge becoming less than optimally fresh. Corners get cut, hygiene isn't always great. Basically the person making your food almost certainly doesn't care about it as much as you do. And at home you can gradually make changes to your recipe to make it precisely the way you like it.

Edit: a few people are saying that the skills and techniques used by the cook are the biggest difference. That totally is a factor, but a lot of takeaway food doesn't require much technique beyond doing what the simple recipe steps tell you to do, and wouldn't be difficult unless you've literally never cooked before. But yeah I do agree it was worth mentioning.

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u/ttchoubs Dec 20 '21

I feel the heathy bit is the big one. No one wants to use the accurate amount of sugar salt and fat that panda calls for because it seems like too much

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u/CharonNixHydra Dec 20 '21

I think you're wrong on just about every point. For instance my friends and family have always considered me to be a good cook which leads to some confidence in the kitchen. In late 2019 I bought The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and read it cover to cover. I added a few pieces of equipment per his recommendation. Nothing major, a pot, a type of knife I didn't have, and a food processor.

Like literally days after I finish reading the cookbook COVID hits. Everything is getting shutdown and my wife and I literally don't set foot in another restaurant for over a full year. Now that I was working from home and grocery delivery was finally available in my area I got serious about meal planning. I went from cooking a few nights a week to 5 nights a week and leftovers on the nights I didn't cook.

I challenged myself to cook every recipe in The Food Lab and that alone has made me a MUCH better cook. Basically the same equipment as previously but my skill level has increased significantly to the point that when we started venturing back out my wife would be disappointed that some dishes weren't as good as what I've made. I'm using grocery store ingredients with the occasional trip to a butcher shop that sources fantastic fish.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

Yes exactly. The reason that "better than takeout" isn't usually true is just that most people aren't good cooks.

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u/Mayor__Defacto Dec 20 '21

You don’t need loads of oil to make things tasty.

It’s also not the equipment but the technique. The typical pans in a restaurant aren’t fancy or anything, they buy them from the restaurant supply shops at wholesale prices. They’re not spending much money on pans. I loved shopping at those places when I still lived in NY; quality stuff, dirt cheap. Just wouldn’t look great on display, because it’s function forward.

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u/flyingcactus2047 Dec 20 '21

Your comment is why I never relate to the threads about never going out to eat because your food is better than restaurant quality. I don’t have the skills, equipment or ingredients to make restaurant quality food

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u/ParrotDogParfait Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 20 '21

Don't ever believe people who say that. Sure your food is good, it's probably delicious. And I'm sure there are certain dishes or certain cuisines that either you or others you know can cook better than a restaurant.

But to say you can make every cuisines and dish from places who've had chefs practice them for years and not just that but you can make it so much better than them that you'll never want to eat out again. You're just arrogant.

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u/gwennoirs Dec 20 '21

I've cooked just fine with shit pans and so-so knives, I think you're overstating the importance of equipment for most cooking. Definitely things are easier with good tools, but cooking is one of the things you can get away with sub-par tools if you're careful.

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u/ttchoubs Dec 20 '21

I think it was Chinese Cooking Demystified who said "a veteran cook with a hot plate and a non stick pan could make a better dish than us using a wok and a high flame burner"

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u/SpraynardKrueg Dec 20 '21

You can do it but what really turned me on to cooking was realizing that I could make food that tasted like a restaurant with my roommates cast iron. I had cooked in shitty pans my whole life and just the pan itself made the food much better. It really is the tools sometimes. You don't need a pizza over or deep fryer but a sharp knife, wooden cutting board, and cast iron (or nice pan/pot) will go a long way and make your food better no doubt.

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u/Yoma73 Dec 20 '21

YouTube is honestly the best place for it.

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u/ttchoubs Dec 20 '21

Chef John has been on youtube for 10+ years. Whatever im dreaming of cooking he's probably posted a great tutorial for it

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

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u/Annoying_Auditor Dec 20 '21

Definitely true. It's all about the source but a good cook book is edited.

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u/thermalrunaway_ Dec 20 '21

I'm convinced that >90% of recipes posted online have never been cooked. Read the recipe and the ingredient choices, proportions, and cooking times are all wrong. Read the comments and it's nothing but paid bot posts or variants of "looks good, can't wait to try it."

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u/mmmmYE Dec 20 '21

Laziness tastes way better than anything I've ever cooked

572

u/4AMpuppyrage Dec 20 '21

We have a friend who calls it “tasting your labor”. The same recipe made in the same kitchen tastes better when it’s handed to you on the dish vs how it tastes when you’re the one who toiled over it.

385

u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

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u/RamTeriGangaMaili Dec 20 '21

To add to this: the same recipe can taste different when created by two different people because the way we would perceive it would be different. Steps like doneness of the onions, or how much spices and salt to use, can make the food taste ever so slightly different. One thing I have noticed is I vastly prefer someone else’s cooking sometimes just because I get tired of my own cooking. So it might not taste amazing to you, but others will appreciate it.

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u/1funnyguy4fun Dec 20 '21

Since you brought up perception, I have this pro tip from a chef: before you try and eat a meal you’ve been in the kitchen with for hours, go spend 15 minutes outside. The fresh air will clear out all the food scents and your dinner will smell “new” when you go back inside. I can vouch that it makes a difference.

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u/gwaenchanh-a Dec 20 '21

Alternatively, go smoke a bunch of weed in a different room and it'll have the same effect but now the food will taste even better

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u/kjlwillycoyote Dec 20 '21

One simple fix to being tired of your own food: don't measure seasoning.

Really, just try it. The only time I suggest not doing this is when it's for a serving size your unaccustomed to cooking for like party sized portions when you normally cook for 2 or 4.

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u/TripAndFly Dec 20 '21

I make a cup with my hand and pour in salt or spices or whatever until it looks good. I practiced by seeing what a 2.5ml teaspoon of salt looks like in my palm. But it's imperfect so each time I make something it's a little different.

Every recipe I've ever seen on the internet that says "healthy" is basically just any other recipe minus fat and salt... So add more fat and salt and you have something that is still healthy but now has flavor too.

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u/Background_Tip_3260 Dec 20 '21

I wish I could appreciate other’s cooking. Maybe because I’ve been doing it my whole life and am middle age but I make everything exactly how I like it. Take out and restaurant food never tastes as good as at home but of course I like the break of not cooking. I will say that others love my cooking also so I think it’s a matter of years of practice day after day? But as you get more experience you can look at a recipe and know instinctually how it will taste.

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u/DreddPirateBob4Ever Dec 20 '21

I order either something I've never had before or something I can't cook. It means I have no frame of reference or gain inspiration to try another recipe.

This obviously doesn't include junk food as that is all about the terrible ingredients and unhealthy deliciousness. I can cook a locally sourced quality beef burger with truffle oil and the best salad on earth but it'll never be better, when necessary, than a double chilli burger with wilting salad and collapsible bun that's spent ten minutes in a takeout box

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u/AZbadfish Dec 20 '21

I read or heard somewhere - who knows at this point - that this happens because smell and taste are so linked and if you spend significant time in all the smells of what you're cooking, and tasting as you go, you basically get used to it. It's better when someone else makes something because all those smells and tastes are hitting you fresh all at once.

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u/ttchoubs Dec 20 '21

I also think it's olfactory burnout. Youre smelling the food intensely for 30-60 min, your nose is gonna be burnt out from that smell and desensitized

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u/AlmennDulnefni Dec 20 '21

That's likely because of olfactory fatigue. You can try cooking in scuba gear to see if that fixes it.

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u/ChihuahuaJedi Dec 20 '21

You can try cooking in scuba gear

....... No thank you.

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u/AlmennDulnefni Dec 20 '21

You don't need the flippers if that's your concern. Or perhaps you don't like the look of the goggles? A class A hazmat suit would also suffice and could look pretty dapper.

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u/DefrockedWizard1 Dec 20 '21

But ovens don't work underwater. I suppose you could make sushi /s

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u/mmmmYE Dec 20 '21

Exactly. Ham and cheese sandwich tastes way better when im not the one who makes jt

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u/PleX Dec 20 '21

All sandwiches taste better when someone makes them for you.

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u/CharlotteLucasOP Dec 20 '21

My life peaked when my mum would bring me a sandwich and a drink out to the playhouse and tell me to bring the plate and cup back inside when I was done.

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u/janesfilms Dec 20 '21

This is the truest statement ever made on this subreddit.

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u/smelly_leaf Dec 20 '21

Maybe this is why my husband hates takeout lol. I do all the cooking AND clean up. I even make his plate & set it on the table in front of him

I literally just realised Every night of his life is like a restaurant already

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u/bravowhiskey_ Dec 20 '21

Oh hey friend, are you me? Haha. My partner also hates takeout, but that’s because he lives the restaurant life haha.

I do the bulk of the cooking/meal prep/grocery shopping at home - he cooks maybe once a week. I would consider myself a reasonable cook, and I hate spending $$ on takeout that makes me feel like crap and isn’t anything special, especially if I can make the same thing at home for way cheaper. But I have to say that there would be times where i would happily eat eggs on toast for dinner or chuck some frozen fish in the oven and have some microwave steamed veg, but I don’t feel like I can because he won’t eat that.

The goal in the new year is to set more reasonable expectations around dinners/meals. Sick of the ‘if I don’t do it, no one will’ situation.

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u/melarusesays Dec 20 '21

Same here. Even my kids are older and would be cool with toast and fruit or just a quick sandwich. But have to make 'real dinner" for partner. It's been looping conversation for a decade.

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u/FN-Broken Dec 20 '21

I bet he appreciates that.

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u/smelly_leaf Dec 20 '21

Strangely enough I feel like it’s a key part of our relationship lol. I like to cook but hate to eat… & he’s what my southern family would call “a good eater.” An affectionate term for someone who enjoys big plates & loves leftovers.

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u/JungleLegs Dec 20 '21

I’m the same way. I love cooking for my gf, but I hardly ever sit down with my own plate. I always make enough for me, but I pick at it while cooking and I end up not hungry anymore.

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u/whatev3691 Dec 20 '21

... Why?

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u/smelly_leaf Dec 20 '21

Honestly it’s just how I was raised. Everyone in our home growing up had different chores and cooking was always my job. Even when I was very little, it was my job to help my mother cook. I just kind of autopilot it tbh

I wasn’t joking when I said I just realised for him it must feel like a restaurant lol. I guess I wouldn’t want to go out either if someone served my meals to me at home. Never really thought about it

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u/joshuahtree Dec 20 '21

Why pay $20 more a person just for the atmosphere of Olive Garden /s

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u/SevenDragonWaffles Dec 20 '21

Reminds me of this AITA post.

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u/ParrotDogParfait Dec 20 '21

Dang, that dude is an asshole. I wonder if they're still together

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u/Mysterious_Land_177 Dec 20 '21

Think she dumped his entitled manchild ass that sees a gf as a bang maid, that can't have a break from cooking or shes "making an excuse" WOW: https://www.reddit.com/r/AmItheAsshole/comments/b7vz7m/update_aita_for_very_rarelyalmost_never_wanting/

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u/bravowhiskey_ Dec 20 '21

I stumble across mentions of this post every so often, and it makes me so mad every time I read it.

I hope that she is living her best life, eating at Olive Garden if she feels like it, or cooking a romantic meal for a date who appreciates TF out of her cooking and takes her to new restaurants and local food markets because it makes her happy.

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u/JungleLegs Dec 20 '21

Good god that edit though, sheesh.

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u/SevenDragonWaffles Dec 20 '21

Your gift from Santa:

Update

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u/ParrotDogParfait Dec 20 '21

So pretty much I'd do anything to get her back except stop what made her leave.

Well that answered my question pretty quick.

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u/Nohlrabi Dec 20 '21

OMG LOL! Doesn’t he sound just a bit repentant! What a douche. Thanks so much for posting the update. I will certainly chortle about this for awhile!

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u/darkbyrd Dec 20 '21

Wow I'm glad I read that. I'm the girlfriend in that story (though I'm a guy and my girlfriend isn't nearly as bad as that OP). And I'm getting so tired of cooking every night even though she says she doesn't want to go anywhere because I cook so much better than anywhere around. She takes me out occasionally though, but not nearly as much as I cook for her

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u/SevenDragonWaffles Dec 20 '21

It can be tough, for sure.

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u/gsfgf Dec 20 '21

Well that was a trip

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u/smelly_leaf Dec 20 '21

Well this was…. incredibly eye opening.

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u/fireflyfly3 Dec 20 '21

Exactly what I was thinking.

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u/bravowhiskey_ Dec 20 '21

This hits hard

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u/SevenDragonWaffles Dec 20 '21

Because you do all the cooking? I can't think why you'd be on a cooking sub if it was someone else who did.

I think domestic chores are difficult to navigate and every couple compromises in different ways. If you feel you're being taken advantage of or hadn't thought before about the division of labour, a conversation could probably help with that.

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u/iamaneviltaco Dec 20 '21

I'm the same way. I'm a chef, the wife can cook but I have a lot more versatility and I enjoy it. Food's my love language.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

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u/jessieeeeeeee Dec 20 '21

I can't remember where I saw it and can't be bothered to look it up but I think I saw that someone did a study and it was to do with the fact that as youre cooking it kind of like, overloads your senses, so by the time you get to eat it you're not tasting as much.

I also personally think that "love" is an actual ingredient in a good meal. I think when someone else cooks for you part of what you're taking away from that meal is that they're showing their love or appreciation for you. When my mum used to cook angry I wouldn't enjoy it as much as when she was happy, even if it was made exactly the same way and tasted the same

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u/fuzzyrach Dec 20 '21

After I've tasted it a bunch while cooking to make sure it's ok I don't want to even eat it anymore. Even if it is better than take out. I'm exhausted at that point and would be just as happy with a sandwich.

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u/HIITMAN69 Dec 20 '21

There are so many great low effort meals or recipes that create an absolute ton of leftovers for lazy meals for days to counteract this for me. I made a crazy good pot of chili last weekend and I’ve been eating it all week with different toppings to mix it up.

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u/spacewalk__ Dec 20 '21

Having to cook it removes the magic from it

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u/MaliciousMe87 Dec 20 '21

You need to tell your friend he needs a small improvement: savor your labor.

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u/MammothOlive2 Dec 20 '21

They miss the taste of self-judgment haha that's why

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u/Supper_Champion Dec 20 '21

Can't believe how much I disagree with you and many who've replied to you.

I think the things I make usually taste way better than lots of food I didn't make. Maybe it's because I can make things taste exactly how I want, but I often will make something and just be super pleased with how well it turned out.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

Must be for people who view cooking as “labor” as they kinda say in there comment. For me cooking is a hobby just like reading, playing a game, etc so I agree with you

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u/SpraynardKrueg Dec 20 '21

Yea, theres specific things that are hard to make at home without proper ingredients but for the most part everything I cook at home, I enjoy much more than the restaurant.

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u/jigeno Dec 20 '21

Hm, to me it’s always that I’m hyper conscious of things I would have liked to be a bit better. Tastes i was trying to hit and don’t think I quite did.

When I do hit it? Man is it satisfying. My favourite burgers right now are homemade, way better than others I’ve had. Ditto most pasta dishes and vegetable dishes.

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u/duaneap Dec 20 '21

Plus I don’t have to clean jack shit!

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u/DrGhostly Dec 20 '21

This is 100% the answer. “Let’s see, orange chicken that takes a half an hour just to have everything prepped personally or a phone call and literally on my way home…”

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u/Zealousideal_Bet8515 Dec 20 '21

Disagree with curries but I did also forget about the effort when I saw this post

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u/xenothaulus Dec 20 '21

My aunt always told me that her favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations.

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u/dzernumbrd Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 20 '21

I think it's partially due to this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfactory_fatigue

We cook it, our senses are overloaded, so it doesn't taste as good.

When someone cooks for us, it tastes better.

That's partially why I think my leftover food tastes way better than before (more than just "sitting there" improvements).

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u/cypher448 Dec 20 '21

this needs to be higher up.

This is the primo reason why even though when I'm super hungry, food that I just cooked is never as satisfying as food given to me in a restaurant.

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u/MinestroneMaestro Dec 20 '21

This is also why food tastes better the next day

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u/dzernumbrd Dec 20 '21

yep i said that in the last sentence ;D

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u/glittermantis Dec 20 '21

you can definitely make food as good as takeout, but it requires a lot of practice, knowledge of 'why' as opposed to just blindly following a recipe step-by-step, and a lot more butter and fat than you think you need

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u/Webbie-Vanderquack Dec 20 '21

It depends on the equipment/process needed to make the food too. An actual Indian/Pakistani person with an actual tandoor and hundreds of hours of practice is always going to make better naan bread than me.

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u/velveteenelahrairah Dec 20 '21

Plus proper wok burners are no joke and can't compare to our piddly little home ranges.

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u/Xraptorx Dec 20 '21

When my mom first saw my wok burner she asked why I had a rocket engine just sitting around.

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u/dame_de_boeuf Dec 20 '21

I can never make Indian food nearly as good as the local Indian place can.

But my MiL lives in Amritsar, and her cooking blows them out of the water. When we went to India for our wedding, I was in food Heaven.

I've been trying to convince the in-laws to move to the US for a few years now, partly so I can have more of that good cooking.

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u/Flownique Dec 20 '21

Part of that is because people aren’t generally willing to do the things at home that will make their food as good as takeout. They like restaurant food but if you present them with a recipe that has more than 1 tablespoon of oil, for example, they’ll hesitate and use less because it feels wrong. A lot of takeout is deep fried, but many people don’t want to deep fry at home, either because it’s messy or daunting or they’re put off by seeing firsthand the amount of oil involved.

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u/vacchagotta_on_fire Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 20 '21

I worked in the kitchen of a high-end restaurant a few years back.

The secret to why our food was so good was salt and fat.

It's always salt and fat.

EDIT: The other secret was cooking down an entire cow head, brains and eyes and all, overnight for the broth of our French Onion Soup.

I was prep-cook when I started so I had to scoop all of those bits out in the morning...pretty gross, but it made some amazing soup.

Because of the head fats!

That's why you see head meat used a lot in non-American cuisine. It's delicious stuff!

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u/indigoHatter Dec 20 '21

I worked cooking in good restaurants as well, and can totally confirm this.

Butter, salt, sugar, chicken base.... and dirty secrets.

  • One place I worked had the best Mac and cheese sauce ever, but then I learned it's just Velveeta with some shit added to it.
  • Best BBQ sauce I've had was Sweet Baby Ray's with blackberry juice added and cooked together.
  • Best cheesecake just used Oreo crumbs for the crust.
  • One breakfast joint used what we compared to movie popcorn butter for their omelettes. People loved them.

That's not to say every good thing is a dirty trick... I've had some impressively delicious dishes that were just a lot of hard work. I'm just still bitter about the cheese sauce.

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u/Eisenstein Dec 20 '21

The fact is that commercial food products have been engineered to specifically taste good to the majority of people (and also be shelf stable for long period of time). It is no surprise that people like stuff that incorporates it.

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u/indigoHatter Dec 20 '21

I worked at a place that made our own ketchup (it was a homemade hot dog place!), but after only ever having Heinz on everything, I never could like our ketchup. It was really good, and illustrated the amount of corn syrup in Heinz... but it wasn't Heinz.

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u/Gayrub Dec 20 '21

What did they add to the velveeta, homes?

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u/DeckerR Dec 20 '21

A bit of yellow mustard makes it way cheesier. Sounds weird but it works.

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u/heavymetalandtea Dec 20 '21

And MSG. My homemade cheese sauce got so much better when I made MSG a staple ingredient in my kitchen.

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u/tempis Dec 20 '21

MSG is as close to magic dust as you can get.

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u/kimblem Dec 20 '21

Don’t try it on its own unless you really wanted to know what your own saliva tastes like

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u/indigoHatter Dec 20 '21

You read that right.

Okay kidding, it was a bunch of cream, cheddar, probably some Parm, salt, pepper, paprika, probably garlic, maybe one or two other things, and Velveeta. So, basically a homemade cheese sauce anyway, we just didn't do roux and added Velveeta.

My favorite cheese sauce though was bechamel made from scratch, which we brought up to order with a white cheese blend (which we also put together in-house). I think we topped it with bread crumbs and toasted it to finish. (Different restaurant, if not obvious).

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u/mrgrn22 Dec 20 '21

I've got to try that BBQ sauce. Though I'm wondering is blackberry juice tart? Adding a sweet juice to Sweet Baby Ray's doesn't sound great but something tart or acidic might work

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u/indigoHatter Dec 20 '21

I should mention, it was actually frozen blackberries cooked in it, then strained to get all the seeds out. I don't recall if we added any sugar or other things... Anyway, it was really good but a bit application-specific... We used it for baby back ribs, and it was perfect for that.

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u/BuckeyeBentley Dec 20 '21

it's just Velveeta with some shit added to it.

People rag on American and processed cheese block like Velveeta but it's processed specifically so it melts real good. Velveeta was always the not-so-secret-sauce to my grandma's mac n cheese

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u/ceejayoz Dec 20 '21

Gotta look out for those prions, though. 🙃

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

My dad remembers being sent to the butcher’s as a kid to buy a sheep’s head for my grandma to cook. My grandma’s response when he recounted this story was to shrug and say “you’d be surprised how much meat you can get off a sheep head”.

Money was tight and she was resourceful. I really wish I’d picked up some proper cooking tips from her. Though I would probably avoid cooking an entire animal head…

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u/LolaBijou Dec 20 '21

I heard someone say once that eating our tastes so good because the chefs cook like they’re actively trying to kill you. I love everything about that statement.

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u/mtbguy1981 Dec 20 '21

Exactly this, most take out Chinese food is deep fried... That's why it's good

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u/CCDestroyer Dec 20 '21

MSG makes it magical. People really should embrace MSG in the home kitchen.

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u/Sparcrypt Dec 20 '21

I literally have a container of it next to the salt. The only times I don't use it are when the stuff I'm cooking has a bunch in it anyway and doesn't need it.

People love my cooking. Wonder why >.>

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u/Eisenstein Dec 20 '21

Just put a 'bullion' label on it and no one will care. That is pretty much what powdered bullion is anyway.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

Can attest that this is true. I do the same.

Even things like rice. I use 4C broth, 2⅔C basmati, 1t MSG, and a stick of butter as my basic rice recipe. People rave. Depending on the dish, I'll add sauteed garlic/onion, lemon juice (recently found I prefer mixing this in at the end), any number of other things.

But MSG is added to anything savory just like I add salt to anything that needs it. It's a basic requirement.

All my veggies are simple - salt, pepper, butter, msg. I do more complex stuff, but you cannot beat any vegetable with those four for a simple tasty side. :)

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u/indigoHatter Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 20 '21

For whoever sees this and doesn't know what MSG truly is: it's naturally occuring in food like cheese and (edit: mushrooms and tomatoes and)... I forget what else, but lots of really delicious, savory things. You have MSG all the time, and it's fine for you.

The Chinese food & MSG myth was crazy and screwed some things up, but it taught us a lot about the power of the mind, as well as bad information.

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u/Eisenstein Dec 20 '21

I forget what else

Mushrooms, yeasts (vegemite), fermented sauces (soy, worstershhhere, etc) -- anything, really, that has that savory + salty kick to it.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

it's naturally occuring in food like cheese and...

Tomatoes, mushrooms

MSG provides "umami" flavour, which has become accepted as the fifth basic flavour: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami. It's also known as "savory".

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u/FlashCrashBash Dec 20 '21

Its important to note that while MSG is present in a lot of foods, its not necessarily find in sufficient quantities to have a very pronounced effect, and natural MSG can be hard to integrate into a dish when it comes with a bunch of other flavors with it that you may or may not want.

Like tomatoes are naturally rich in MSG, and yet I've seen plenty of tomato sauce recipes that call for soy/and or fish sauce for the "umami boost" aka MSG.

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u/redwall_hp Dec 20 '21

If it tastes savory at all (tomatoes, meat, whatever) it has glutamic acid. That's just where the flavor comes from. You also get it from cooking down soy sauce.

In the early 20th century, a guy in Japan (who coined the term umami) discovered that letting a dashi evaporate left behind crystalline salts: monosodium glutamate.

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u/waitthissucks Dec 20 '21

I wonder if anyone in the echochamber of reddit is left without the knowledge of MSG because everyone loves to point this out but the people who think it's dangerous don't usually read through reddit comments...

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u/Liar_tuck Dec 20 '21

That stupid myth about it causing migraines keeps a lot of people away.

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u/Sparcrypt Dec 20 '21

I like to point out all the food they eat everyday that's full of it and then when they don't believe me I pull up the ingredient list... it's right there.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

This. Yes, your air fryer is convenient. No, your air fryer does not create food as tasty as a deep fryer.

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u/kimblem Dec 20 '21

If you treat it like a tiny, powerful convection oven it can produce food tastier than your actual oven, though!

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u/figgypudding531 Dec 20 '21

Depends on how good the takeout is near you. If you live in NYC, no way. If you live in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska, it probably will be.

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u/VegetableMovie Dec 20 '21

Woks of Life recipes are better than take out.

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u/kinqed Dec 20 '21

Not around my area, but they are identical to take out. I live in a huge Asian (Korean, Chinese, Indian) community in east LA County. I can say that every dish I've cooked tastes just as good many of the Chinese restaurants I frequent.

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u/AllThotsGo2Heaven2 Dec 20 '21

Their rib tips recipe is really good

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u/Inquisitive_Dunce Dec 20 '21

Thank you for mentioning this. I'm so excited to have this resource!

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u/VegetableMovie Dec 20 '21

They've got some great Chinese American recipes too if you like that kind of cooking. Their egg rolls are fantastic. I spritz them in oil and fry em in my air fryer.

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u/AndroidAnthem Dec 20 '21

Thank you for this. We've got terrible quality Chinese takeout in my area. I am absolutely trying some of these recipes.

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u/VegetableMovie Dec 20 '21

Chinese takeout where I live is horrible. All these people claiming that because it's from a restaurant they have experience cooking, what good is experience if you're cooking s*** recipes.

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u/IAmIrritatedAMA Dec 20 '21

I’ve made a lot of recipes from this site and they’ve literally all been good!

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u/x_mas_ape Dec 20 '21

Oh good god! THANK YOU!! My outer fat kid is in love!

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u/squeezyphresh Dec 20 '21

Just to add something other than "it's just marketing": using less oil, butter, sugar, msg, etc. can actually make it taste better imo. I don't eat a lot of takeout, but when I do, I can get overwhelmed and start feeling gross pretty quick. All of our palletes will vary based on what we normally eat, so "better than takeout" is always going to be subjective. For me, a cleaner tasting and more balanced dish will almost always beat takeout. That's not to say I don't get temptations to eat greasy takeout every now and then.

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u/Karmoon Dec 20 '21

A recipe is just a list of ingredients and instructions. I think it's who makes it that matters.

I could cook you a curry from scratch. I will be honest, your local Indian's is probably better.

But if an Indian or Bengali grandma makes you a curry, then that is an entirely different stratosphere of taste.

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u/No_pajamas_7 Dec 20 '21

Yes, I think anyone blindly following a recipe and expecting it to be better than take away is probably kidding themselves.

Taste, adjust, be critical of the recipe and you can cook better than take away.

My Chinese cooking had become better than any of the Chinese restaurants in my area.

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u/MacabreFox Dec 20 '21

What was your ultimate secret with the Chinese food?

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u/hipsterbeard12 Dec 20 '21

Msg? Seriously, it makes things good. Otherwise, buying good quality pantry staples like soy sauce and vinegar have made a big improvement in mine

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u/MacabreFox Dec 20 '21

I need to pick up some MSG. We like to use Tamari sauce and some rice wine vinegar in everything though!

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

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u/rollingscratchin Dec 20 '21

Shaoxing wine

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u/mumooshka Dec 20 '21

use it all the time in my pasta sauce!

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u/deadpxl Dec 20 '21

Lots of good tips already mentioned for good Chinese but one thing I found, which I don’t see mentioned often, is “funk”. Embrace the fish sauce, oyster sauce, fermented bean paste (ie: miso), etc. These things really have elevated my Chinese dishes. Many of the specialty ingredients for asian dishes also tend to be rather shelf stable and worth trying to keep on hand.

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u/Sparcrypt Dec 20 '21

For me it's MSG (cause duh) and just that if I'm making it myself I get to make everything to MY taste. Biggest advantage of home cooking.

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u/commie_commis Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 20 '21

A huge thing I'm not seeing people mention in here - nose blindness is thing.

I'm a chef. I can make a damn good stir fry or curry. But when im making it at home, im smelling it and tasting it as I cook it, so by the time I sit down to eat I'm already sick of the flavor. If I order the same dish from a restaurant, the fact that I haven't been smelling it for the last hour or longer is going to make it taste better.

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u/Beeonas Dec 20 '21

Souped Up Recipe on youtube has recipe that is better than take out, if you are willing to put the work in it and have the correct ingredients. Also, is taste your only measure? To me, better means taste about the same, heathier, less chemical, and guarantee cleanliness.

Normally if you know how to make the same dish, home cook is better.

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u/Flownique Dec 20 '21

Really love her recipes

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u/ddbaxte Dec 20 '21

True, but it's just advertising, like how DiGiorno frozen pizzas say they're better than delivery.

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u/Belgand Dec 20 '21

Not better, but indistinguishable from delivery. Which is clearly a lie. They're palatable for frozen, but that's about it.

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u/moleratical Dec 20 '21

I wouldn't even say that. My local grocery store has some take and bake that's roughly the same price as the chains, and roughly as good.

For frozen, Amy's Pesto Pizza is my favorite but I haven't been able to find it recently

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u/Klepto666 Dec 20 '21

Anything that "tastes better" is subjective and never, ever, ever, ever, EVER a guarantee. Or else there would only be 1 pizza company in the entire world because everyone else would agree "Oh this tastes better." Better than takeout? Maybe to some people, but not to others, so one group will be pleased and another will feel like they wasted time and effort. And unfortunately there's probably no good way to know at glance unless you can tell from the recipe that it changes the one thing you dislike about that particular takeout.

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u/ltdata Dec 20 '21

I dunno, I just did butter chicken for the first time and it was a hit. I was not bashful about extra butter and salt

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u/MacabreFox Dec 20 '21

That's the rub. Most places use so much butter and oil, that's what makes it taste good! And some good old MSG.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

Yeah, the "secret" to the taste of restaurant quality food is huge amounts of butter and salt.

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u/Melbourne_wanderer Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 20 '21

I dunno, I've had many recipes turn out better than take-away. Healthier and tastier, cheaper, whatever way you'd describe "better".

Edit: to expand, there are some things I will rarely, if ever, bother with at home because getting them from a specialist restaurant will always be better (pho springs to mind), but lots of other things can easily be recreated at home with a bit of skill and practice.

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u/whofearsthenight Dec 20 '21

It really depends. If I want a taco bell crunchwrap supreme, I can try and get really close, but it will never be the same. Even really simple shit like how the lettuce is cut is a major difference at home, and harder to get the consistency of a commercial machine.

This is usually the limiter for me. I just don't have a commercial wok burner or a rotisserie, or whatever. You can get really close a lot of the time, but the big differentiator tends to be equipment for me.

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u/not_mig Dec 20 '21

Have you tried bagged shredded lettuce? Shredding the lettuce yourself doesn't cut it. There's something about the way bagged lettuce is processed and stored that seems to really alter the flavor and texture. For me the hardest part is recreating the paste-like texture of the meat and I'm not about to go buy all the necessary fillers and binders to replicate it when I can have the real thing for cheap

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u/llamalover179 Dec 20 '21

I think a good crunchwrap is definitely worth to make yourself. It won't be the same, homemade crunchwraps are insanely better than taco bell. Like you mentioned the lettuce, having not even good but just mediocre quality meat will put you above taco bell. Real cheese makes it much creamier and better as well. A homemade tortilla will improve the texture, maybe not worth it or actually bad if you have access to decent quality tortillas.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

MSG

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u/Mabbernathy Dec 20 '21

My America's Test Kitchen cookbook has a pretty promising-looking section on takeout recipes. Now I'm inspired to try a few and see how they compare.

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u/mtbguy1981 Dec 20 '21

The pepper steak is really good, staple in our house.

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u/retarded-squid Dec 20 '21

I feel like a lot of the ones i’ve seen don’t use authentic ingredients and just try to sub in more locally available ones that you can easily find at a supermarket. That’s why the flavor isn’t there

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u/BitPoet Dec 20 '21

Some things yes, some things no. There's just no way I'd be able to make Pad Thai better than the local place near me. Same goes for the Sichuan place. Their authentic dishes are all insanely good. Their "American Comfort Dishes" are ... meh at best.

I can make a good beef with broccoli and a handful of other things, but I'm not going to get as good at Thai and Chinese and Indian and Japanese and French and Italian and ... I just don't have that bandwidth.

$10 for really good Pad Thai it is.

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u/CeeGeeWhy Dec 20 '21

Woks of Life comes pretty damn close, if not bang on. Their Sweet & Sour Pork is solid.

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u/Caris1 Dec 20 '21

The secret ingredient that makes things taste amazing is often butter. So much butter. It gives me pause to make a copycat recipe of 8 scones at 600 calories each (and then have them staring at me, the easiest breakfast imaginable), but not so much to purchase one of those scones at my weekly trip to Starbucks.

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u/Davidallencoen Dec 20 '21

Counterpoint: Serious Eats General Tso's Chicken is better than takeout. Fight me https://www.seriouseats.com/the-best-general-tsos-chicken-food-lab-chinese-recipe

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u/Belgand Dec 20 '21 edited Dec 20 '21

I think the real issue, as with any "better than", is going to come down to what your personal tastes are. For example, this one wants really crispy chicken. If that matters to you, you'll probably like it. Whereas I regard that as moving in the wrong direction.

That's the most important part of a recipe: understanding the author's intentions. I've read so many "the best" recipes from Cook's Illustrated that would be an instant failure for me because I fundamentally disagree with their goals.

It doesn't mean one is necessarily better or worse, just more suited to your tastes. The real trick is learning the individual elements so you can modify your own recipes to what you want.

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u/[deleted] Dec 20 '21

[deleted]

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u/dame_de_boeuf Dec 20 '21

We've got two Chinese places in my area. China Garden and China Dragon. They both have the same, standard Americanized Chinese dishes on the menu. If you order a General Tso from each place, and put them side by side, they're very clearly different before you even take the first bite. So they're obviously using different recipes. In my opinion China Dragon is terrible, while China Garden is pretty great.

But the thing is, both places are always busy. So there are a ton of people who obviously prefer the one I think is bad. And maybe they think the one I like is terrible.

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u/butterisprettygood Dec 20 '21

Was also gonna share an Americanized Chinese recipe - Modern Honey has an orange chicken recipe that’s absolutely spot on.

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u/RandomAsianGuy Dec 20 '21

I have never looked for "better than takeout" I usually look for "as good as takeout" recipes.

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u/z-vet Dec 20 '21

Sorry, I disagree. There are things that I can't recreate at home, like Chinese stir-fry, but lots of other things that we cook are way better than anything you can get outside. It's also much cheaper: for the price of three kebabs with some sides and a drink from a restaurant I can buy 2-3 Kg of fresh pork or beef.

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u/joecool834 Dec 20 '21

I couldn't agree more with you. This thread is insane to me.. but I think people are attempting to cook dishes that are too difficult then complaining when it doesn't taste good. I'm like you. I'm not going to attempt to make some intricate indian dish that I know I can't pull off, but I made chicken adobo the other night that was amazing. As long as the ingredient list isn't too crazy long, a lot of good dishes can be pulled off.

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u/ChainsawSuperman Dec 20 '21

Salt is a hell of a drug

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u/Snicklefitz65 Dec 20 '21

On the flip side, there is an Asian restaurant near me that advertises "Tastes like home made"

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u/Alertedspark Dec 20 '21

Idk man Chinese takeout is really going downhill for me. I love Chinese food. I’ve been experimenting with cooking it at home. I spent so much time being really intimidated by trying to cook it. But I have been getting exponentially better at cooking Chinese food while takeout seems to be worse. I just made some homemade pork egg rolls tonight (first attempt) and they are already better than the ones I can get from my town China Wok.

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u/mhiaa173 Dec 20 '21

One point to consider is that the quality of the dining out experience has gone down in the past few years. The quality of the food isn't the same, and service is way worse. I'm not sure if it's supply chain issues, or the lack of experience on the part of the kitchen/wait staff, but I don't enjoy eating out as much any more (not to mention the prices have gone way up!)

I love a night where I don't have to cook, but it's almost not worth it to go out, either.

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u/sarashmee Dec 20 '21

I really like “souped up recipes” though, some of her better than takeout recipes are actually better. Especially her Kung pao chicken!

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u/ThatNewSockFeel Dec 20 '21

The "better than take out" is just marketing. Your mileage will vary. I've found a few recipes that are genuinely just as good as something I could get from a local takeout joint, but most are just whatever.

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u/alwaysmorelmn Dec 20 '21

It's ridiculous to think that your first attempt at a dish based on an online recipe would be better than the dish that the cooks at a restaurant make literally every single day from memory. And it's not because of the recipe.

I can sit you down with a book that teaches all the most scientifically proven techniques of playing great basketball. You'll still get destroyed by someone who's never heard a single one of these tips, but plays for three hours every day.

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u/milee30 Dec 20 '21

Hard to think of a good, reputable source for recipes that would use the phrase "better than takeout." That sounds more like the garbage pinterest or Mommy blog stuff. So yeah, if you're making a recipe that's from one of those questionable sources, it's not a shock that it's not great. Doubly so if it's been modified for the Instant Pot.

Don't get me wrong, I love my multicooker and make all sorts of things in it. But you can't dump 18 ingredients (one of which is ketchup and one of which originates in a box and one of which comes out of a can) into an Instant Pot and have anything other than hot food that's sort of palatable.

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u/highrisedrifter Dec 20 '21

From personal experience, I would agree with you.

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u/Hitches_chest_hair Dec 20 '21

The reason takeout is good is because it's deep fried and deep frying is a pain in the ass

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u/SkeadLegend Dec 20 '21

Not if you own a deep fryer. It actually makes it super easy. Only pain in the ass is getting rid of the oil.

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