No matter how many times you do it, figuring out what to cook for dinner somehow never gets easier. In lockdown, it's a question that calls for reinforcements. Here are some winning ready-to-heat takeaway dishes from the pros that will feed a crowd - or keep solo cooks away from the stove for at least a couple of meals.
Move over lasagne; this lockdown, give some love to moussaka. Elyros can give you your fix, whether it's the beef and eggplant option or a vegan number that puts mushrooms and lentils to work. Pop the tin-foil container in the oven while you wrangle kids or do that home workout.
$22. Order from CoLab Pantry.
Fancy Hank taco pack
Smoky brisket meets warm tortilla in a serious step up from your usual taco night, thanks to this convenient pack from Fancy Hank's. There are also pickled red onions, a bottle of the crew's signature cayenne and watermelon hot sauce (hello, tomorrow's huevos rancheros) and the brisket is already chopped into taco-friendly pieces. Legends.
$39 for 8 tacos and 400g brisket. Order from Fancy Hank's.
Bar Lourinha's spinach and chickpeas, and saffron-almond chicken
Comfort in a bowl is one way to describe the braised spinach and chickpeas that are a Lourinha staple. Transplant some of that warmth to your dinner table, and round it out with a golden-hued chicken in a buttery saffron-almond sauce.
$16 for spinach and chickpeas, $26 for chicken. Order from CoLab Pantry
Trattoria Emilia's porcini and scamorza lasagne
Does knowing there's a tray of lasagne in the fridge give you peace of mind? CBD restaurant Emilia has three flavours to bring you calm, but our pick of the bunch is the mushroom. A porcini and mixed 'shroom ragu is layered with smoked mozzarella (scamorza), bechamel and housemade pasta for a dreamy winter dinner.
From $21 RRP for 700g. Stockists all over Melbourne; see the list online.
Miznon's intimate wagyu stew
Whether it's dinner for one or date night, the name of this dish is begging for candles and a bottle of red. Cooked low and slow for up to eight hours, the hard work's done for you; just reheat and add your favourite side. Or don't. It's all about ease.
$19 for 500g, $38 for 1kg. Order from Miznon.
Epocha's beef short rib
Skip the slow part of slow-cooking and head straight to the pay-off with Epocha's braised short-rib that's ready after a quick plunge in a pot of hot water. It comes with celeriac mash and radicchio plus a host of other goodies, like duck-fat potatoes, squacquerone with orange, pomegranate and mint and a salad of wild greens and cabbage.
$45 for 1 serve, $85 for 2. Order from Epocha.
Botanical Hotel beef Wellington
There are some things that you're happy to cook in lockdown. And there are some things better left to the pros. Beef Wellington, made with Gippsland's O'Connor beef and encased in latticed pastry is definitely one to order in. Thankfully South Yarra's Botanical Hotel is ready and waiting.
$122 for 2. Order from Providoor
Eating your feelings? Go for gold with Philippe's hearty cassoulet. Made with Toulouse sausage, slow-cooked pork, confit duck and haricot beans, it's a beast of a dish and the team don't discriminate against solo households. Each portion equals one generous serve or two smaller ones.
$35. Order from Providoor
The Fishmonger's Son fish pie
Proof that it takes a village, this North Carlton business teamed up with neighbours Maria's Pasta and The Pie Shop (owned by Matt Wilkinson) to create a master take on the classic fish pie. Salmon, smoked cod and scallops mingle with potato and celery in a white wine and sherry sauce, with the whole lot under a crunchy lid of puff pastry. Comes frozen for emergency dinner situations but it's only available on Wednesday 21 July from 11am and it's first in, best dressed.
$34. Pick-up from The Fishmonger's Son, 703 Nicholson St, Carlton North. No pre-orders.
Chin Chin beef cheek and coconut curry
This Chin Chin signature is part of the hefty Make Me Feed Me box that the crew are delivering for one day on Saturday 24 July. Designed for two (or for solo diners to avoid cooking for at least two nights), the menu starts with prawn siu mai, makes a stop in veg-town with roast eggplant and tomato-chilli jam relish and detours to twice-cooked lamb shoulder before reaching the beef cheek curry. There are seven dishes in total and delivery is available to Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and the Mornington Peninsula.
$150, feeds two. Order from Chin Chin
Small Axe Deli eggplant parmigiana
Meat-free? Tick. High on comfort? You bet. Modestly sized for one or two, the parmigiana at Small Axe is one of many ultra-convenient options, alongside jarred pasta sauces, free-range roast chicken, ready-to-go risotto and salads. Because sometimes you need an easy win.
$14.50 for parmigiana. Order from Small Axe Deli