Home Restaurant Food quality & to-go food containers: what all restaurants need to know

Food quality & to-go food containers: what all restaurants need to know


Restaurant industry sales are poised to hit a massive $1.2 trillion by 2030, and experts expect off-premise traffic to be an enormous factor in that meteoric growth. As a result, owners and operators increasingly recognize the need to offer multiple access points for hungry diners eager to get their hands on everything from avocado tacos to zeppole.

But how do you maintain food quality during delivery?

Successful food delivery depends on two things: partnering with the right third-party delivery partner and being strategic with your to-go food containers. 
Sustainable packaging, secure lids, cold packs, and more follow this expert advice and see how your new approach to packaging sends your restaurant sales and customer satisfaction rates soaring.

What Are the Best To-Go Food Containers for Restaurant Delivery?

When it comes to food delivery packaging, there are three things to look for to help ensure the dishes your kitchen creates arrive at their destination in the best possible shape:

Durability

Look for packaging that has a strong seal, and that can support the food it contains.

Piling a sauce-laden lamb shank into a flimsy Styrofoam clamshell has the potential for disaster, but a sturdy plastic dish with a tight-fitting lid reduces the likelihood of breakage and spills.

Condensation can be a concern too, so consider vented containers to help keep fried food from getting soggy.

Sizing

Oversized containers allow food to shift around and make portion sizes look tiny. Undersized containers lead to spillage. Invest in containers in a variety of sizes and use the right one for each dish.

Loose Lids

Choose packaging that comes with sturdy, reliable lids and double-check those lids are securely attached before you send orders out the door.

Branding

Branded containers double as restaurant marketing. Invest in branded containers or buy a personalized stamp and customized bulk bags as you go. 

Don’t forget branding is about your messaging and vision as well. For instance, if you emphasize sustainability in terms of ingredients, your packaging should be eco-friendly, too.

Millennials and Generation-Z care about sustainable delivery containers

Going green isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also smart business. Generation Z and millennial diners are more sustainability-conscious than any other generation. They’re also more likely to pay close attention to corporate responsibility.

Gen Z alone wields some $29 billion in purchasing power and over $333 billion in influence. Connecting with these powerful demographics means paying attention to not only where you get your food but what you put it in.

When choosing sustainable food delivery containers, keep these tips in mind:

  • Plastic may be durable, but it’s a poor choice for the environment.
  • Paper/cardboard containers are biodegradable but don’t hold up well to wet foods.
  • Recycled paperboard containers take advantage of existing materials and are both compostable and fluorine-free (look for the green seal as an indicator of authenticity)
  • Bioplastic (biodegradable plastic) offers the functionality of traditional plastic without the risk to the planet.
  • Aluminum foil containers are eco-friendly and non-absorbent but lack sturdiness and durability.
  • Recyclable containers can be reused for a longer lifespan or recycled after their initial use.

Most restaurants will use a mix of materials, using cardboard for “dry” dishes like pizza and flatbread and turning to bioplastic bowls to handle pasta and salads. 

Keep in mind that the same characteristics and concerns extend to disposable cutlery — people need utensils, but no one wants to eat a steak with a thin knife.

restaurant owner reducing food waste through sustainable restaurant practices

Are you interested in learning more about sustainable restaurant practices? Check out our article How to Reduce Food Waste and Become a More Sustainable Restaurant.

How do you package food for delivery to ensure quality?

How you package your dishes is essential in protecting your food quality during travel. Here are some things to consider when you are packaging food for delivery:

Temperature

Separating hot and cold items into different containers and bags helps ensure everything arrives at the proper temperature. Some restaurants even go as far as removing cold items like sliced onion, tomato, and lettuce from a burger and packaging it separately so diners can reassemble their order at home.

Prepare cold foods right before pick up, so they don’t sit longer than necessary. Of course, you can’t always control what happens once an item leaves your restaurant, but you can do your best to send off your milkshakes and poke in tip-top shape.

Liquids

Place all liquids in their own containers to keep them safe and secure during transit. This also allows customers to regulate how much sauce or dressing they add to their own food. Double-check the fit of your lids and ensure your delivery drivers use insulated bags during the delivery process. 

At Grubhub, every delivery driver is provided an insulated delivery bag and training to ensure they protect the quality of your food during transit. Learn more delivery tips in our latest article: Ready to tap into Grubhub Delivery? Here are four tips to ensure success.

Food Safety

Think of all the warnings your front-of-house staff would give diners when handing over a mirror — and then add some. All packaging should include the appropriate heat warnings to prevent accidental scalds or burns, plus tamper-evident seals and packaging that gives consumers plenty of confidence in your product.

Hot and Fried Foods

Using vented containers for fried food is essential in protecting their flavor and preventing condensation. 

For “wet” dishes like chicken curry and Denver omelets, that condensation can drip back onto the food and create a layer of flavorless moisture that makes for a pretty unappetizing meal.

 For fried dishes, condensation can be the kiss of death. 

Using vented containers that allow moisture to escape will help mitigate sogginess.

Take extra steps when packaging your takeout orders 

In hospitality, it’s often the details that separate you from your competitors. In food delivery, that means paying attention to your food quality, packaging, and how the two come together.

Arrange food so that it’s not only visually appealing but also likely to arrive in the best condition possible. That can mean tamping down on your artistic side and letting realism take the lead. If you’re struggling to find realistic ways to package your delivery food and adhering to your budget, it may be time to adjust your menu to include food designed to taste delicious and also travel well.

Maintaining Food Quality With Grubhub Delivery

Maintaining food quality is vital to your restaurant’s future, which is why it’s essential to Grubhub, too. We understand the importance of protecting the integrity of your product.

For many owners and operators, joining Grubhub has been an opportunity to step up their game without sacrificing customer service or taking on the responsibility of building a delivery infrastructure and spearheading complicated marketing campaigns. “Grubhub Delivery is protecting our food quality,” explains Jeff LaPadula, General Manager of NYC’s P.S. Kitchen. “Grubhub’s professional drivers and insulated bags absolutely protect our food quality, even as delivery demand increases.”

Ready to get started with Grubhub Delivery? Sign up for Grubhub for Restaurants today!



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