How to Build a Takeout-Friendly Menu

Written by Vivian Chung

Thanks to apps like SkipTheDishes and DoorDash, we have the luxury of having our favourite meals delivered right to our doorstep. But while on-site diners may dig in a few short minutes after it’s prepared, those of us picking up takeout or ordering delivery may not get the chance to enjoy it until over half an hour later. Ensuring takeout dishes keep their quality and appearance after transport can help your restaurant win repeat business. Here are some simple ways to build a takeout-friendly menu to keep your customers coming back. 

Limit Your Food Options

Limiting your menu items for takeout might sound counterintuitive, but not all foods are delivery friendly. Foods like pizza, lasagna, sushi and sandwiches have been popular picks for delivery because they travel well and retain their temperature. Plus, they make for great leftovers. But fried foods like fries and mozzarella sticks tend to get soggy due to condensation buildup in the takeout box, so a diner’s likely going to be left with mushy food. Consider limiting dishes like steak as well, as it keeps cooking even when it’s off the pan. This means it could arrive medium cooked instead of medium rare.


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Limit Wait Time 

On top of the time needed to prepare the dish, takeout meals have to be packaged neatly in boxes, placed in paper bags, then delivered by the app or picked up by the customer, which adds significant wait time before they can be enjoyed. Minimize the consumer’s wait time by selecting dishes that require less prep time, like soups, salads and stir-frys. Sometimes the extra 15 or 20 minutes of wait time can be the difference between a frustrated or satisfied customer.


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Separate Items When Packaging

If you’re serving foods on your takeout menu that involve multiple components, separating wet from dry items and hot from cold ones can make these dishes more delivery friendly. For example, separate the sauce from the pasta so it’s not soggy when it reaches the consumer, or the ramen from the broth so the noodles don’t overcook. Make sure the sauces and different components of the meal are easily identifiable to make the assembly process a near-zero effort for the diner. Separating these items also prevents a mess from happening during transport.


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Consider Presentation

Presentation still matters when it comes to takeout orders, but when dishes have to be placed in boxes, plating techniques have to be adjusted to make the dish look appetizing. To prevent it from shifting around during transit and showing up like a sloppy mess, consider using takeout containers with built-in compartments. Those with a transparent lid invite consumers to visually feast with their eyes before digging in, and presenting meals in cardboard or biodegradable plastic can communicate to the consumer that your restaurant prioritizes sustainability. Another fun way to make the presentation of your food more memorable is by adding your branding, like a custom logo sticker, to the box or paper bag.


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