Let's debunk some of the prevailing myths swirling around hardcore takeout habits, starting with the money issue. The average young American spends $173 on food per week. That's $24 a day, more than enough budget to get a sandwich or salad for lunch, and pretty much anything I want for dinner.
Being in one of the best (and most expensive) restaurant cities in the world and writing about food for a living, I naturally budget a little more to try out as many restaurants as possible. But even still, I normally hover around $200 a week, which is just fine for me. And I assure you, the food I order is better than anything I (and probably you) could cook.
I can have a delicious bowl of chicken curry one night, then hit up my favorite sushi spot the next, or order a grilled cheese with tomato soup and have it in my hands within minutes. I could even order a kale salad, if I wanted to (I don't). I know what it's like to cook. You end up basically making the same shit over and over and over again. Variety is the spice of life, and ordering a burrito one night and pad kee mao the next is spicy as hell. With a glut of websites (SHAMELESS THRILLIST PLUG) dedicated to profiling the best restaurants and dishes, you can make pretty damn sure what you are going to order will be tasty, too.
The point is, I'm not just cooking basic pasta with frozen meatballs and scrounging up the leftovers for lunch the next day because I don't want to be wasteful. Even if I did nothing but practice cooking for the next six months, I still don't think I'd be as good as any random entry in my takeout rolodex.
The main impetus of having a job -- and not just sitting on my couch and relying on the kindness of strangers donating to a phony GoFundMe account -- is to support the lifestyle of your choosing. Paying bills, saving, and being prudent with finances is obviously important, but why kill yourself to make a living if you don't enjoy your life? I don't like to make it rain at the strip club (I mean, not on weekdays) or gamble away anything other than fingers (big fan of knife games) -- but I do like to spend the money I have on food. So spending a little extra, to me, is entirely justifiable.
Ordering takeout saves me time, which, if I'm to believe any old person that's been in any Steven Spielberg movie ever, is much more valuable than money. People simply have more going on right now. Even my 6-year-old cousin needs his playdate with Ian C. arranged, prepared, and scheduled. And family dynamics just aren't what they used to be. The stay-at-home mom has been on the decline for decades and both parents are working longer hours than Americans once did. Assuming that "the right thing to do" is to cook your fam an at-home dinner simply isn't fair. It's borderline archaic.
With the shackles of adult life strangling my own schedule, I get three to five hours a night to myself. Factor in chores (laundry, cleaning, feeding the local stray cats), occasional bouts of physical exercise, and a potentially worrisome Netflix habit, and I pretty much have 14 free minutes a day. By cutting cooking out of my routine, I have more time to do the things I need to do. Or at least have the freedom to procrastinate on doing the things I need to do. Paying slightly more for that freedom is totally worth it. Some people actually enjoy the act of cooking, and that's fine. Some people also read Mein Kampf for life advice. You can't always trust other people.
Right now, I simply don't have the time to commit to it. I need the freedom of the to-go tin. Which has its own inherent advantages.
Let's not forget one of the prime positives of the to-go tin: it eliminates the need to clean your dishes. Or, even buy dishes in the first place. If you don't buy dishes, there's a couple hundo right there to spend on to-go food. And, the waste you create by ordering heavily packaged to-go foods, you might make up on with water saved by not washing dishes. I mean… maybe.
As far as health is considered, your takeout can be as healthy as you want it be, just like your cooking. Often I'll opt for pick-up instead of to-go, and by walking to pick up my meal, I get some extra walking time in my day -- which is never a bad thing. Why pay for a gym class when you can pay for mozzarella sticks a few miles away? While money is said to be the ultimate motivator, it pales in comparison to red sauce.
There is simply not a good reason to continue to cook for yourself, aside from deriving personal pleasure from it. I do indulge in cooking, on occasion (usually through subscription food services, so it's like getting assembly-required to-go, anyway). Unless you truly love cooking -- or live on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic -- you should join the takeout life. Right now, outsourcing my food prep simply has more pros than cons. And if you take a long hard look at your own life, I think you'll agree with me here. It's only one busted pilot light away.