13 Mistakes You Need To Avoid When Ordering Takeout

You've had a long day at work, you're tired, and the last thing you want to do is spend an hour over a hot stove making dinner for yourself. Sometimes, after a long day, all you want to do is order some takeout and enjoy it while you sit on the couch and veg out. However, before you can do that, you'll want to make sure you're being smart about ordering takeout. If you're not, you could end up spending way more than you want to or even get a meal you won't even enjoy.

That's why we've decided to tackle some of the most common mistakes people make when they're ordering takeout. Most people have made these mistakes before, and if you're one of them, you'll want to go through the list to ensure you don't commit these takeout sins again. Once you've got your takeout routine down, you can feel good about ordering out (even on those days when you know you probably should've just forced yourself to cook something). These are the mistakes you need to avoid when ordering takeout.

Not saving your takeout containers

One of the top mistakes people make when they order takeout actually doesn't have anything to do with the food at all — it's about the takeout container itself. If your favorite takeout spots use relatively good-quality takeout containers, why not keep them stashed in your cabinet so you can use them the next time you have to store something? It's the easiest, cheapest way to get more plastic containers for your leftovers at home, so you should definitely keep some stacked away whenever you need them.

You can use these plastic containers for a wide variety of uses. Of course, they're great for storing leftovers, whether you're trying to save more takeout food or something you've cooked yourself. They're particularly useful for storing cookies and other baked goods. But you can also use these plastic takeout containers for other uses. Perhaps you're looking for another box to store extra writing utensils, makeup, or even jewelry. It's a great way to save money on containers you might have had to purchase anyway.

Ordering brothy noodles

So, you're craving noodles, but you don't know what to order. Since there are so many different types of noodles to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what to get. However, there are some noodles that you definitely don't want to get: brothy noodles. Many restaurants will send you home with a plastic container filled to the brim with your soup, noodles and all. This wouldn't be a problem if you were eating the dish right away, but since you have to spend time getting your food home (or having it delivered to you), there's a good chance those noodles are going to get soggy before you can even find a bowl to put them in.

But that doesn't mean you have to skip the noodle dishes altogether. Instead, consider ordering a drier noodle dish. That doesn't mean that the noodles have to be totally dry of course, but it's preferable if they're in a sauce rather than a broth. When you opt for this kind of dish, you're much less likely to suffer from the curse of soggy noodles.

If you're really craving some kind of noodle soup, though, you may want to call the restaurant and ask how they package the dish. In some cases, particularly when it comes to Vietnamese pho, the noodles are put in a separate container, and you only combine the ingredients when you're ready to eat.

Leaving your takeout on the counter for too long

We've all had it happen before: You get home with your takeout only to be distracted by the kids, the laundry, or the dog. Once you remember that you have food and that you're actually hungry, you realize that it's been out on the counter for a long time, maybe too long. Should you eat it, or should you just toss it and pop a frozen meal into the microwave?

Well, it really depends on how long it's been out on the counter. Most of the time, you won't want to eat food that's been sitting on the counter (or otherwise unrefrigerated) for more than two hours. Wait longer than that to eat your food, and you're running the risk of foodborne illness, which probably wasn't what you were craving when you placed an order for pad Thai. At higher temperatures, food can spoil even quicker, which is why when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll want to refrigerate your takeout after an hour of sitting on the counter.

Your best bet is to just decide to refrigerate your food if you don't think you're going to get to it within about a half hour. Beyond that, you're going to have to reheat it anyway, so you might as well play it safe. If you do go over that 30-minute mark, though, just be sure to keep a close eye on the clock to ensure you're not eating something that could make you sick.

Forgetting to tip

When it comes to takeout, the rules around tipping can be murky. Do you tip the restaurant? The delivery driver, if you have it delivered? Both? Neither? There's definitely some gray area here if you're picking the food up yourself, as you're not technically tipping the waitstaff. However, we generally think it's a nice thing to do. Many people working at restaurants are technically making very little money hourly, so they almost entirely depend on tips. It's a nice gesture, especially if it's a place you get takeout from often.

However, when it comes to delivery, tipping is expected. This person is going out of their way to hand-deliver your food to you, so the least you can do is make sure you tip them. In fact, if you're using a delivery app and you don't tip ahead of time, there's a chance that you'll get your food slower since fewer drivers are going to want to take an untipped order over a tipped one.

Not thinking about how your wine will pair with your takeout

You may usually get takeout when you're in a rush or you just can't be bothered to cook, but sometimes, takeout can mark a special occasion or just a nice date night in. When that's the case, you might want to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with your takeout meal. Any wine will do if it's one you like to drink, but if you're trying to elevate your takeout experience, you may want to think about what wine will pair best with your takeout.

One of the most classic wine and takeout combos is pizza and Lambrusco, a fizzy red wine from Italy. It's chilled, bubbly, and it's exactly what you need to wash down your Domino's. Getting Thai food? Think about popping some demi-sec Champagne, which has a slight sweetness that works especially well with spicy dishes. If you're craving tacos, think about opening a bottle of your favorite refreshing rose.

There are countless different fun wine and takeout combinations to explore, so don't be afraid to buy a bottle you've never tried before.

Getting your takeout tacos pre-assembled

Tacos are one of our all-time favorite takeout meals, but they can be a big mess if you don't know how to order correctly. Generally, you'll want to eat your tacos when they're as fresh as possible, but if you have to drive them all the way home or wait for your delivery driver to arrive, they may not be as fresh as they could be by the time you sit down to enjoy them. That's why you need to know how to order your tacos for the best takeout results.

Firstly, you'll want to avoid crunchy shelled tacos and instead opt for softer tortillas. When the juice from the meat or beans and toppings soaks into a crispy taco shell, it can quickly become soggy. Your best bet is to order either soft corn or tortilla taco shells. Additionally, it's a good idea to try to get all of the taco ingredients separated so you have to assemble them once you get home. That way, you don't have to worry about the tacos falling apart right away, and you can throw the shells on a hot pan to crisp them slightly before serving them.

Using a food delivery app

In the last several years, takeout has gotten easier than ever as delivery apps have boomed, especially in large cities. These days, it's possible to get just about any cuisine you want delivered straight to your door in some parts of the country. But should you take advantage of these services? Although they can be convenient, they come with some marked dark sides. Some argue that delivery drivers tend not to be well-compensated for their work, especially when consumers refuse to tip.

But ordering delivery from an app isn't just bad for drivers. It also tends to be significantly more expensive for consumers. Not only do you have to pay the price of the tip, but you'll usually have to pay a separate delivery fee. On top of that, the food you order from an app can be priced higher than if you were to just go to the restaurant itself.

So, yes, go ahead and order delivery from an app when you absolutely have to, but you may not want to make it a habit if you don't want to pay a premium every time you order takeout.

Refusing to use your leftovers in creative ways

Do you ever have a small portion of leftovers just sitting there in the fridge, waiting for you to eat them? It's not large enough of a portion to eat for a meal, but it seems too substantial for a snack. Maybe it's been in the fridge for a few days, so it's starting to look less appetizing than it did when it was fresh. Should you throw it away, or should you try to eat those leftovers anyway?

If you ask us, the best way to handle these types of leftovers is by finding a creative way to use them in another dish. For example, you can add scrambled eggs to your leftovers to transform them into a meal. You may also be able to do this with rice, pasta, or bread, depending on what your leftovers consist of.

Moral of the story? Don't assume that you have to eat your leftovers exactly how they came. You can treat them as ingredients that can play a role in other meals.

Opting for delivery rather than pickup

Sometimes, delivery is your best option. Maybe you're home and you don't want to leave the house or you're sick and not feeling well. Perhaps you've already had a drink or two after you got home or you have a work assignment that needs to be done within the hour. Whatever the case may be, delivery can be a good option from time to time.

However, when you're just ordering takeout because you're craving Chinese or pizza, you should probably go pick it up instead of getting it delivered. Most of the time, you'll get your food faster this way, as you won't have to wait for a delivery driver to make other stops before yours. This means you're more likely to get your food while it's still hot as well. On top of that, you're going to be saving money on delivery costs. Unless there's a good reason for you to order delivery, think about just picking your food up instead.

Not separating the cold and hot items on the way home

All too often, people picking up food on the way home won't think about the respective temperature of each of the items they're grabbing. If you're only ordering hot or only ordering cold items, that's not too much of a problem. However, if you have both hot and cold items in your order (like if you order a burger and a frozen treat on the side), you're going to want to make sure you separate those items as you're on the way home. By keeping the hot and cold items separated, you'll ensure that they don't warm or cool each other down, leaving you with tepid dishes all around.

Of course, this is only possible if you're picking up your food yourself. If you're ordering delivery, you may want to consider skipping out on colder items, like ice cream, and just go for the hot stuff, especially if you're ordering from a restaurant that's not within a few miles of you.

Forgetting to think about leftovers for tomorrow

You usually think about grabbing takeout when you're hungry and ready to just sit down and eat as quickly as possible. But just because you're in a rush doesn't mean you shouldn't try to think ahead. By anticipating what your needs may be the next day, you can plan a better takeout order. If you don't like leftovers, that's fine. But if you're too tired to make dinner tonight, are you really going to want to make your lunch for the next day? If not, make sure you order a bit of extra food at your favorite takeout spot.

If you're picking the food up yourself, planning for leftovers tomorrow is a great way to ensure there's even less for you to do during the next day. But if you're ordering delivery, you're also ensuring that you don't have to pay that delivery fee twice.

Ordering calamari or other seafood dishes

Are you a calamari lover? You may consider ordering some from your favorite restaurant to enjoy at home, but that may not be the best course of action if you want the best possible calamari experience. Although calamari is usually crispy and fresh-tasting right after it's come out of the fryer, it can start to take on a rubbery texture when it sits around for too long. Because of that, your best bet is to just order calamari when you go out to a restaurant and choose a different dish for takeout. Of course, if you have to have calamari, you're better off picking it up yourself to ensure it isn't sitting around for too long.

This logic can be applied to other types of seafood as well. Many types of seafood can develop an unpleasant taste or texture if they're sitting around for too long, so you may want to save those dishes for when you go out to eat.

Getting impatient

Whether you order takeout for pickup or you plan on getting it delivered to your door, mistakes and delays can always happen. The restaurant might be running behind schedule, or your delivery driver may find themselves in unavoidable traffic. These situations may not be ideal, but, alas, sometimes life is hard, and we need to have patience, especially when service workers are involved.

Delivery apps in particular can experience delivery delays, but older, more established forms of food delivery don't necessarily fare much better. In many cases, even pizza delivery is taking longer than before the COVID-19 pandemic, as there's a shortage of delivery drivers. And although you want your food on time, it's important not to misplace our frustration on the workers who are caught in the middle. So, yes, even if your food is late, you should still tip. Bring it up with the restaurant chain or the delivery app instead.