The 5 best and 5 worst foods to get delivered, according to chefs

Some meals, like fairly dry noodle dishes, are a great choice to have delivered. iStock
  • Insider spoke with chefs to find out which foods are the best and worst to get delivered.
  • Soup, stew, chow mein, and lasagna travel well and are great for leftovers, according to the pros.
  • Chefs said that fried foods and salads should be avoided when ordering in.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There’s nothing like having a warm meal delivered straight to your home. Sadly, not all dishes survive the journey from restaurant to doorstep in great condition.

Insider consulted with chefs to figure out which foods make for perfect delivery meals and which are likely to disappoint.

Here are some of the best and worst foods to get delivered.

Tacos are a safe bet for delivery.

You might want to order tacos that are filled with a protein that you don’t cook often.

Chef Sean Huggard, owner of Blue Island Oyster Bar and Seafood in Denver, Colorado, told Insider that fish tacos are an ideal dish to have delivered.

“Tacos, in general, are great, but they also travel so well. If you don’t cook a lot of fish at home, this is a great to-go delivery food,” said Huggard.

Tacos served in a soft flour or corn tortilla may stand up to the delivery journey better than those served in a fried or crisp tortilla shell, as any liquid in the taco filling might make the bottom of a crisp shell slightly soggy.

Lasagna is an ideal meal to have delivered if you want some leftovers.

Lasagna can be frozen, too, if you want more leftovers.

Luis Gutierrez, executive chef at Cucina Colore in Denver, Colorado, told Insider that he believes lasagna is the perfect delivery food.

“Lasagna is great hot or cold, and it freezes and thaws well. It also has a long shelf life,” said Gutierrez.

You can infuse new life into dried-out, leftover lasagna by adding a tablespoon or two of additional sauce before reheating to make up for any moisture loss in the fridge or freezer.

Hearty soups and stews often stay warm during the delivery process.

There’s a good chance it will still be hot by the time it’s delivered to you.

If you’re looking to make your delivery order stretch for as many meals as possible, a hearty soup or stew is a safe choice.

“Soups and stews hold their heat very well, so [they] will usually still be hot by the time you eat,” said Viramontes. “The product doesn’t break down on the way, so it will arrive at home just as good as it left the restaurant.”

If you don’t finish what you ordered, saving the leftovers is often as easy as popping on the provided lid and sliding the extra soup into the refrigerator or freezer.

Casserole-style dishes travel well and are easy to heat up.

Macaroni and cheese is an excellent delivery choice.

Chef Ariane Resnick told Insider that any meal prepared as a casserole, meaning it’s oven-cooked in a large, deep pan, is perfect for ordering in.

“Casserole-type dishes, such as mac and cheese and enchiladas, are great for delivery. They reheat well and don’t change much in texture when stored for days in the fridge,” said Resnick.

Other casserole dishes that are also popular restaurant offerings include potatoes gratin, moussaka, baked ziti, tamale pie, and shepherd’s pie.

Somewhat dry noodle dishes can be reheated easily, so they’re a great option if you worry about your food getting cold.

It’s OK if your chow mein gets a bit cold since the dish heats up well.

Unlike noodles or pasta served in a heavy sauce, dry noodle dishes that have cooled in transit quickly perk right up in the microwave.

“Though noodles that haven’t been heavily sauced will dry out slightly in transit, they will soften again once heated,” said Resnick.

Dry noodle dishes are often popular items at restaurants featuring Asian cuisine, and soba noodles, udon noodles, and chow mein noodles usually keep their shape and texture after being warmed up.

On the other hand, noodles or pasta that are coated in a heavy sauce may quickly become mushy.

No one wants a plate of mushy, cold pasta.

Unfortunately, noodles that have been prepared in large amounts of sauce have a tendency to lose their texture over time.

“Heavily sauced noodles or noodle soups are a bad idea for delivery. Flour noodles will continue to absorb the liquid in the dish. Once refrigerated, [they] may break down into mush,” said Resnick.

The chefs agreed that fried food shouldn’t be ordered for delivery.

By the time mozzarella sticks are delivered, they may not be too crispy.

These pros agreed that the worst type of food to have delivered is anything that’s fried in oil. That includes items like mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, fried fish, and even french fries.

“Fried items will be soggy on arrival … and can only re-crisp so much in the oven. Also, once refrigerated, they will crisp up less when reheated,” said Resnick.

Ordering a huge batch of fried snacks can also lead to food waste if you don’t eat everything in one sitting.

“Fried food is rendered pretty much inedible after a few hours so if you don’t finish it, you’ll likely end up putting it in the trash,” said Viramontes.

Delivery salad can be lacklustre.

You might want to make a salad instead.

Though chopping up vegetables can be a chore, Huggard said that preparing your own salad at home is usually better than ordering on for takeout or delivery.

“Salad is my least favourite delivery food. It usually has dressing on the side so the salad doesn’t get soggy. But for some reason, when you mix it at home, it’s just never as good as at a restaurant,” said Huggard.

You might want to skip breaded foods when ordering delivery.

Foods that are both breaded and fried made become soggy rather quickly.

Dishes with a breaded coating or breadcrumb topping may be cold and somewhat soggy by the time you’re ready to eat them.

“Breaded foods do not hold their heat well, so [they] will likely be cold by the time you get them home,” said Viramontes. “If the food is packaged in the wrong container, it will get really soggy and no longer be crispy.”

Other breaded foods to consider skipping for your next delivery order include chicken tenders, corn dogs, and crunchy cauliflower bites.

Calamari can quickly become chewy and unpalatable.

Squid isn’t the most delivery-friendly food.

If you’re looking to avoid a mouthful of rubbery squid pieces, consider passing on having calamari delivered.

“I think the worst food to have delivered is calamari. It gets chewy and soggy after minimal time in the box,” said Gutierrez.

Instead, housebound diners in the mood for seafood may consider ordering something that’s more delivery-friendly, like fish or shrimp tacos, instead.

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