Take Out Fake Out Recipes for Busy Nights

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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Take out food is so tempting because it’s fast, easy, and usually very satisfying (the most comforting of all comfort food). But it can also be a budget killer. So, when you’re tempted to dial for take out or you find yourself browsing Postmates, consider making one of these easy take out fake out recipes so you can stay in control of your budget (and diet). 

What is my criteria for take out fake out recipes? It has to be simple, totally delish, and similar in style to the take out classics we’ve all grown to love. Get your bookmarks ready!

Take Out Fake Out Recipes for Busy Nights

Take Out Fake Out title over a photo of Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles
Pictured: Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles


Garlicky greens and creamy ricotta pair perfectly on this light and fresh Garlicky Kale and Ricotta Pizza. It’s the perfect pizza for summer! BudgetBytes.com
Pictured: Garlicky Kale and Ricotta Pizza

Pizza is probably the hardest take out for me to resist, but luckily I’ve grown quite fond of making it at home, and have even come up with a few valuable shortcuts. I love my Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust for last minute pizzas because it takes less than 30 minutes and requires no rising. Top it with whatever you’ve got in the fridge, or hit the grocery store salad bar on the way home to pick up some goodies. I also love Pizzadillas or French Bread Pizzas for quick last minute pizza take out alternatives. Don’t forget, making your own Thick and Rich Pizza Sauce is also really fast and easy!

Noodle Dishes

Eating a large plate of Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein
Pictured: Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein

Noodles are the ultimate comfort food, and when they’re drenched in a rich salty sauce and delivered straight to your door, they’re almost impossible to resist. BUT you can make them just as easily at home, and then you can bulk them up with as many veggies as you want. :) My Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein is an easy classic (no chopping required), or there is this super simple Stir Fry Beef Noodles if you want a little meat. Dragon Noodles have been my favorite take out alternative for YEARS, so much so that I’ve even made two other versions: Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles and Lime Shrimp Dragon Noodles! Chicken Yakisoba takes a little more chopping, but it’s so worth the work.


These Green Chile Turkey Burgers can't be beat for a fast, flavorful weeknight dinner. Ready in about 30 minutes and full of southwest flavor. BudgetBytes.com
Pictured: Green Chile Turkey Burgers

Burgers are incredibly easy and you don’t need a grill to make them great! By adding a few “extras” into your patty, homemade burgers can be pretty incredible. Instead of a plain beef burger, try something fun like my Green Chile Turkey Burgers, or Pineapple Pork Hawaiian Burgers.

Stir Fry

This incredibly Easy Sesame Chicken is faster and tastier than take out. You control the ingredients, you control the flavor. Budgetbytes.com
Pictured: Easy Sesame Chicken

Stir fry recipes are no doubt the easiest and fastest dinner recipes out there, and there are an endless number of vegetable-protein-sauce combinations to choose from. Some of my favorites are: Easy Sesame Chicken, Easy Orange Chicken, and Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry. But there are plenty of options for vegetarians as well. Check out Spicy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry, Vegetable Stir Fry with Noodles, or Vegetable Not Fried Rice.


A hand picking up one of the baked beef and black bean tacos out of the casserole dish
Pictured: Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos

Why are tacos such a popular street food? Because they’re FAST and EASY. Same goes for when you make them at home. Fish Tacos with Cumin Lime Slaw are super easy and light, Blackened Shrimp Tacos are great for people who like things a bit spicier, or if you’re vegetarian check out my Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Lime Crema (OMG that crema…). Into hard-shell tacos? Try my Baked Beef and Black Bean Tacos. Seriously, baking your hard shell tacos makes allll the difference.

Bowl Meals

Easiest Burrito Bowl Meal Prep Containers
Pictured: Easiest Burrito Bowl Meal Prep

The commercial food industry is finally catching on to how awesome bowl meals are and I feel like you can find them at just about any quick service restaurant these days. Luckily, they’re super easy to make at home, too. AND you can make them ahead so you won’t even have to think about it last minute. Some of my favorite bowl meals are: Easiest Burrito Bowl Meal Prep, Sushi Bowls with Sriracha Mayo, Loaded Mashed Potato Bowls, Bibimbap, and Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls.

So those are my picks when I’m craving take out, but am trying really, really hard to control my budget. What are your favorite take out fake out recipes? Share yours in the comments below!

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  1. Your Southwest Steak Bowls are one of my favorite dishes! I really enjoy bowls from Baja Fresh (it’s a little like Chipotle but better, IMO), but these make an excellent and affordable substitute! In fact, I actually think they taste better than the ones from Baja Fresh. :D

  2. Love your posts, Beth! I’m not sure how I came upon your recipes but you might be interested to know that some of them are favourites all the way in South Africa. :)

  3. Great roundup! One of our absolute favorite copy-cat takeout recipes of yours is the sheet-pan sweet and sour chicken. Super easy and delicious!

  4. Beth,

    I love your round-up posts like this one because inevitably I find some great recipes that I missed in the past. It’s like suddenly getting an incredibly good new cookbook!

  5. A wonderful roundup of delicious recipes. About burgers–given the cost differential between eating at home and out, you can afford to splurge on the meat. A local grocery store here in NC often sells store ground chuck for $2.99 every Tuesday and often all week long–both a bargain and absolutely the best meat for burgers–which require a bit of fat to be juicy and taste good so 80% lean is a good choice. My dad, the Iowa meat inspector, taught me to only purchase ground meat from stores that grind it on site. When I was a young wife and mom, that was pretty easy and butcher shops abounded, but it’s become difficult–only one store in my community still does it, and when that stops altogether, I guess I’ll have to grind at home.