Butter chicken: homemade vs takeout – which is cheaper?
Creamy sauce, pillowy rice, chunks of charcoal chicken, finished off with some green beans and warm naan – there aren't many better ways to kick off your weekend than with a delicious bowl of butter chicken on a Friday night.
The question is, should you head to your local Indian restaurant for takeaways? Or is it better value to make butter chicken yourself at home?
This Friday night in homes around Aotearoa, friends, flatmates and families will be looking for something simple to eat. With a few easy ingredients, butter chicken can be incredibly quick to prepare.
But as the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation continue to bite, how much will the ingredients set you back? Are you better off buying takeaways – or even the ready-made supermarket variety?
Consumer NZ decided to try and find out. For six weeks, we're choosing a people-pleasing meal then surveying our four big supermarkets to see how much it will set you back to cook that meal for four people.
Then we're comparing those prices to takeaway options.
Today we're turning our Friday night fake-away survey on ... butter chicken.
To make your butter chicken
The internet is full of recipes for butter chicken, all of which require a medley of spices, including garam masala, turmeric, cumin, chili, fresh ginger and coriander, as well as garlic, tomatoes and cream.
With a pre-prepared sauce from the supermarket, you can save yourself lots of time. You'll need that, plus four chicken breasts, rice, naan, red capsicums, green beans, plain yoghurt and fresh coriander.
Then it’s simple. Just get your rice cooking, fry up cubes of chicken breast, add diced capsicum and the pre-made sauce, and away you go. To serve, pile the rice in bowls, spoon over the butter chicken, top with the yoghurt and chopped coriander, and add the green beans and warm naan bread on the side.
Making butter chicken at home is really that easy! And when it comes to dishes, you'll only have one pot, one frying pan, four bowls and a few utensils to clean up.
So, what will it cost? That depends where you shop.
Which supermarket was the cheapest?
Chicken is the biggest price variable when it comes to making butter chicken.
You'll need four chicken breasts and we opted for Bostocks’ free-range variety. That made Supie the cheapest at $27, while Pak’nSave was the most expensive at $30.98.
You could save money here by choosing cheaper brands or chicken that wasn’t free range. We opted for Bostocks because all four supermarkets we surveyed had it in stock.
Other price influencers were red capsicums – which cost $5 for two at Countdown, but only $2.98 at Pak’nSave; fresh green beans – $3.49 through Supie, but $5.29 at New World; and De Winkels unsweetened yoghurt – $4.29 at Pak’nSave, yet $5.49 at New World.
This, our sixth and final survey in this series, was the closest, with just $1.29 separating the total price at three of the supermarkets. Pak’nSave was the most expensive option, coming in at $61.80, with Countdown close behind on $60.90. New World was third on $60.51.
The cheapest supermarket was Supie at $57.61. However, the online grocer is only available in some regions, and there will be membership and delivery fees associated with the purchase.
How does that compare to takeaways?
In Auckland, there are many great Indian restaurants to choose from. At Tiffin in Kingsland, you'll need two tubs of butter chicken, two tubs of rice and a three-pack of naan to feed four people. That will cost you $72.30.
At Henderson's Kohinoor, the exact same meal will set you back $60.50, while, at Ponsonby's Spice Star, rice is included with each meal, so the cost is less, at $52.
But Auckland is blessed with Paradise – the biggest and most popular Indian restaurant in town. There, on Sandringham Road, we discovered the cheapest butter chicken takeaways we could find, with a full meal for four costing just $50.60. If you live locally, Paradise is probably your best – and yummiest – bet.
That leaves you with the choice – cooking butter chicken yourself or heading out for takeaways?
There’s very little in it, with the average price for takeaways pretty similar to what the ingredients will cost you at the supermarket, and not a lot of price variation between the big four supermarkets either.
Ultimately, your decision will depend on prices at your local Indian restaurant, as to whether or not it's worth it. That, and whether you feel inspired to cook.
Prices accurate as of week beginning 16 October 2023.