what to know before ordering takeout
©istockphoto.com / GabrielPevide

After more than a month of quarantine life, one thing we can agree on is that getting takeout from a favorite local restaurant is a real treat. Besides getting to enjoy a meal that we didn’t have to cook, it’s also a great feeling to be able to support local restaurants that are relying on takeout orders to keep their businesses afloat. We like ordering takeout once a week to support the restaurants in our downtown. And, let’s be honest, it’s also exciting to have something to look forward to during quarantine. 

The good news: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say there’s no evidence that food is a known route of transmission for COVID-19. The biggest takeout risk comes from being in close contact with those preparing or delivering the food. Here’s what you should do to protect yourself before ordering takeout:

Ask the Restaurant You’re Ordering From About Their Safety Practices

Before ordering your takeout, call the restaurant and ask how they’re operating in this new normal. Are they limiting the number of people working in the restaurant? Are workers wearing masks and practicing the appropriate social distancing? How is the restaurant protecting delivery people? Are they able to offer contactless delivery?

Call Ahead to Try and Pay Over the Phone or Online

Paying ahead of time will prevent you from having to use cash or having someone touch your credit card. If you’re picking up dinner, ask if the restaurant can put your dinner in your trunk for curbside pickup. If the meal is being delivered, ask the driver to leave it outside your door. If you have to go inside the restaurant to pick up your meal, be sure to maintain at least six feet of social distance between you and the staffers. As for the tip, ask the restaurant if you can add it to your credit card so the delivery person  doesn’t have to interact with you. 

Immediately Remove the Food from Takeout Packaging

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after you handle the packaging. Then, put the food onto plates or into bowls and immediately throw away all packaging and wash your hands again before handling the food.

Follow Food Safety Procedures

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold and be vigilant about following FDA food safety guidelines. In this era of avoiding exposure to germs, don’t share food, drinks, plates or eating utensils with family members or quarantine buddies. 

Besides the restaurants you know and love offering takeout in your town, these chains are offering great pickup or delivery deals:

Applebee’s
The popular chain is expanding pick-up and delivery options with new Family Bundle Meals starting at $29.99. The Family Bundle Meals serve between three and eight people include:

Classic Cheeseburger Bundle – Crunchy Onion Rings, Classic Cheeseburgers and classic fries (serves 4)
Chicken Tenders BundleSpinach & Artichoke Dip, Chicken Tenders with honey Dijon mustard, Caesar Salad, and Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese with Applewood-smoked bacon (serves 6)
Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese Pasta Bundle – Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders and Applewood-smoked bacon, Oriental Chicken Salad and breadsticks (serves 6)

California Pizza Kitchen
Besides offering meals for takeout, California Pizza Kitchen is selling meal kits and individual pantry, fruit, vegetable, and meat items. Meal kits come with recipe cards for families to make together at home and include:
Chef’s Board – featuring a Baguette, Two Cured Meats, Two Premium Cheeses, Dried Fruit, and Mixed Nuts; $25.
Taco Kit: featuring Cilantro, Limes, Roma Tomatoes, Serrano Peppers, Yellow Onion, Vegetarian Black Beans, Shredded Cheese, Tortillas, and a choice of Flap Steak, Mahi, or Chicken; $15 – $24 depending on meat selection for 4 servings.
Kids Build-Your-Own Cheese Pizza: featuring Par-Baked Dough, Pizza Sauce, and Shredded Mozzarella Cheese; $5 each.
Pantry items available for purchase include produce, uncooked meat and seafood, bread, chips and crackers, dry pasta and more.

Panera
Family Feast packages start at $29 and include two half sandwiches, 2 kids’ sandwiches, a whole salad, an order of mac and cheese and a whole baguette. Panera is also selling grocery staples like bread, bagels, dairy items and produce.

Moe’s Southwest Grill 
Get ready for Taco Tuesday any day. They’ve got build your own kits (serving 4-6 people) for $34.99, that include 12 soft tortillas, 2 proteins, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, rice, beans, sour cream and a bowl of their famous queso. Plus, chips and salsa. Free delivery for orders over $10.

TGI Fridays 
Kids Eat Free with orders of more than $20 with the code FREEKIDS. And they’ve got Family Meals to Go with all of your favorites, from a box of sliders to a grilled chicken and ribs box, or even a big box of apps to share. Or you can opt for some veggies with their salad boxes and sides for sharing including their lemon butter broccoli or spinach and artichoke dip. Prices vary by item. 

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