I’m sure every household in the country has mealtimes when you just can’t be bothered to cook, shop, or even wait. Craving not fast food but instant food.

The stable “Fish & Chips” is a 15 minute wait from the head of the queue to “salt & vinegar?”. In these virus loaded, post-apocalyptic days of social distancing and self-isolating, it is easier, if not psychologically safer, to use one of the ‘order-in’ platforms.

One of our local outlets offer a range that include pizzas and calzone, kebabs & burgers, wraps and filled baguettes. Despite advertising a 40 to 60 minute wait for delivery, they on one occasion ranked up an impressive 12 minutes between the ‘submit’ button and doorbell.

Of course, this comes at a price. Minimum order values, delivery charges & platform handling fees, soon extort the cost of the simplest, cheapest & unhealthiest of foods. When haste is at the forefront of our minds, neither cost or nutritional value is high on the agenda!

One of our choices usually is a filled baguette. A baked baguette filled with cheese, garlic butter, topped with a choice of toppings. Kebab meat, sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms are available. Each wading in at almost £5. Add a portion of chips ranging from £2 to £3 based upon portion size, then you could be looking at a £25 bill!

Sure it satisfies the immediate need for food, however the body’s own alarm bells will soon signal you’ve “over done it” – both physically and financially.

I challenged myself to make these dishes, in the shortest time possible, optimise for dieters and finally, as cheaply as possible. I appreciate business overheads and the dramatic effects they have on retail prices. I offer a “buy in” guide price to demonstrate how frugal home cooking is.

To be clear, I set out to feed 3 adults with a sausage and cheese garlic baguette (extra bacon) with chips (one large portion shared). With charges this wades in at ‘bang on’ £21.50.

For the challenge I visited Food Warehouse to source jumbo pork sausages of the ‘chippy’ variety, accommodating bread rolls, and the rest of the ingredients; spread, cheddar cheese, garlic, chives, & potatoes.

The timeline I gave myself was 25 minutes, the average ‘real’ midweek delivery time.

I decided to pre-cook the sausages at 200c for 15 minutes in an air fryer.

Next, I began by making hand skinny fries as these will take the longest to cook. Although I own a chipper, forgoing the peeling process saved time and added a little goodness into what was going to be a ‘train wreck’ to my diet.

I placed the chips into a microwave steamer and set the timer for 12 minutes. Later I transferred to an air fryer to finish the crisping adding a few sprays of 1-cal and a grind of salt.

I needed grated cheese and as we all know the cheapest way to buy grated cheese is to not buy grated cheese, but a good grater. I felt the amount that would suffice to be around 30g-40g per person.

With no time to relax I peeled and minced two fresh cloves of garlic, to which I added a tablespoon of buttery type spread. This is quite subjective as I used Clover light – yes I am making garlic butter. Next I added a sprinkling of chives. It is not a necessity however I think its more to do with presentation than taste. Having a little ‘green’ denoting it is indeed ‘garlic butter’.

Thirty seconds in the microwave and a quick stir, and my rudimentary garlic butter was ready.

I painted my bread with my emulsion of flavours.

Next came the cheese. A layer to form the bedsheet over the garlic butter for the meat to lay on.

On schedule the air fryer pinged to signify the sausages were ready. I left them in situ whilst I sliced 3 rashers (actually used medallions) of smoked bacon, across their length. Removing the sausages, I carefully wrapped the bacon around to make jumbo “pigs in blankets” before returning them to the air fryer for another 5 minutes.

In between my attention was on my ‘other’ air fryer and chip production.

When the meat fryer pinged “ready’’, I lay the sausages on the bed of garlic bread. To aid the cooking process and stop the baguette springing open & shedding its contents everywhere, tin foil is required. Think homemade Christmas crackers and you’d be on the right path. Twisting the ends to hold everything in place whilst having an opening to allow the cheese to brown slightly.

Back to the air fryer for a further 5 minutes or so and I was hoping to be within the timeframe.

Soon I was receiving beeps and bleeps as though I was talking to Mission Control from the Eagle on the Moon. “Houston I am going for plating up, I am opening the air fryer door – beep!”

And there you have it. I served just on 25 minutes. It tasted exactly as the bought in, however the chips were superior to the ‘cash n carry’ variety of the take-out purveyors.

As for cost, bearing in my mind my previous comment regarding over-heads, these cost a little under £1.20 yet retail at £5.40.

SYNs and Food Optimising

The baguette allowing for daily dairy tot up to 17 SYNs. The impact can significantly reduced by using a wholemeal bread stuff of 60g as an allowance. Also substituting a SYN free vegetarian sausage or a 1/2 SYN meat sausage such as Heck chicken.

If we are talking SlimmingWorld then a side salad of speed foods, tomatoes, peas, cucumber & onions, for example, will not only help the processing of the food but also fill the void left by the omission of big stodgy breads.

Honestly…

The next time I’m feeling “meh” I will grab an apron not a tablet and ‘order-in’ from myself.

Coming soon… this will be an item on the podcast.

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