Presently, we’re living in a crazy time, but crazy times don’t mean crazy actions. As a NYC resident, I’m already quite used to takeout and ordering in meals since there have always been endless possibilities through various apps, such as Seamless, Postmates and UberEats. But I understand, for many of you, takeout and delivery options have significantly expanded as dine-in-only restaurants and even bars are shifting to delivery and curbside pickup in an effort to stay open.
While some of you may be keeping up the stay-put homemade meals, others, like me, want to try and support a lot of my usual restaurants during this time, so will order from them. Or, you might just be getting tired of cooking so many meals. OK, that’s me too.
Food Safety and Health
But there’s been plenty of concern about how to order safely. To date, there’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. However, there are still precautions that should be taken. If food is being delivered, it should be left outside your door, with no physical contact between you and the delivery person. If you’re picking up the food, then follow the safety protocols set by the restaurant. Many, for example, are asking that you call when you arrive and wait in your car
Once the food is in your home, you should remove it from the containers and throw those away. Replate onto your own dishes or store in your own containers. Also, if plastic silverware is provided and it’s not individually wrapped, I would discard and use your own instead. And toss the condiment packages – ketchup, mustard, etc. – which may have been touched in the restaurant. Wash your hands thoroughly after this process.
Meanwhile, the question also is what should you even order. Think of a takeout meal the same as you would hopefully be thinking of one cooked at home. No need to make every meal a decadent one. In other words, how often do you really make yourself a bacon cheeseburger with fries? Think about a meal that provides a vegetable, a lean protein and some high-fiber carbohydrate if possible.
Next, consider the portion size. You can almost count that what you get is going to be way more than a single serving. So take advantage of this and immediately split your order into two, either eating the leftovers the following day or putting them in the freezer to have a week from now. Think of the money you could save. (Trying to make lemonade out of lemons here!)
Here’s a closer look at some of the popular cuisines for takeout:
First off, there’s pizza. The good thing about a pie is that you can get several meals out of it. Stick to two slices per person and the rest wrap in aluminum foil and freeze. Pizza is one of the easiest meals to reheat in the oven. Opt for slices topped with lots of veggies, whole grain crust (if possible), and try and avoid the pepperoni, sausage and meatballs.
Next up pasta. Because I already suggested not eating anything straight from the takeout container, but rather re-plating it, this is a perfect opportunity to only eat half of your huge order of pasta. Order a side order of broccoli sauteed in garlic and oil to help fill you up instead. Try staying away from creamy dishes such as penne ala vodka or linguini alfredo. Instead choose pasta primavera. For some protein, see if your place will add some sliced chicken, shrimp or beans. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
This is one we’re probably all too familiar with for takeout. I definitely suggest staying away from anything fried – looking at you egg roll and scallion pancakes. If sharing with someone – because you live with them, not someone coming over – try ordering one dish with meat (i.e. chicken or shrimp) and one vegetable dish.
If you don’t already use chopsticks, it’s a good time to learn. It slows down your eating. If brown rice is available, go for it – we can all use more whole grains in our life. And lastly, no matter what you order, remember the container it comes in is not necessarily a single serving. Dish just part of it out onto a plate or bowl and put the rest away to be eaten tomorrow.
If you crave a burger, go for it, bun and all. But perhaps now is a good time to limit your add-ons, i.e cheese, bacon, double bacon, etc. Tomato and lettuce make for a healthier topping. French fries? Sure. But go for a small size. Or better yet, if a baked potato is available, choose that. And if you’re used to ordering a soda with that burger, consider replacing it with good old water from home.
This is always one of my hubby’s favorite things to order since this is something I never make myself. Unfortunately, though, I must always remind him to pass on the fried options he loves so much, such as rolls with tempura shrimp, soft-shell crabs and fried dumplings. In other words, pass on the fried.
My rule of thumb is stick to two rolls (maki) if you like them or one specialty roll, a miso soup or salad (ginger dressing on the side) and an order of edamame to share. If you prefer sashimi or sushi over maki, still be mindful of how many pieces you’re having – give or take 8-12 pieces, going less on the sushi since it includes rice. Or you could consider another dish, like chicken teriyaki, if raw fish isn’t your thing.
The cheesier it is, the more likely you should pass. One of the best things you can order are fajitas because they’re grilled and also come with veggies. Stick to only one of the tortillas it comes with, and if possible, substitute refried beans for black beans since they are lower in calories. If sour cream is your jam, just try and use less.
And even though chips with guacamole and salsa are always a treat, I would probably wait till you’re back in a restaurant to enjoy – talk about a food you can mindlessly munch on. And if you want a Corona beer, I say go for it. Can’t help feeling sorry that this darn virus shares its name.