21 Foods You Should Never Order for Delivery or Takeout
While you're most likely spending more time at home making your own meals, ordering in isn't completely out of the question. Many restaurants have turned to offering up takeout only to their customers, so you can still order your favorite dishes from your local eateries and get them delivered to you. (Just be sure you're taking precautions and practicing social distancing!) And while you might be tempted to order whatever it is your heart desires, you're still going to want to make the best choices you can.
There are plenty of great dishes to order, and plenty to avoid ordering at all costs, too. You want to make sure you're feasting on a good meal, right? Here, we break down the foods you should never order for delivery, no matter what.
There are just some mornings when you want a fresh pot of coffee and a delicious dish of sunny side up or poached eggs—but delivered to your door. But this might not be the best choice to make.
"We forget how badly eggs smell when they're not fresh," says Ari Banayan, co-founder of Habit Nest. "Plus, cold eggs taste don't taste nearly as good as you'd hope."
Meatball subs might be what you're craving—but they're never going to arrive looking or tasting the way you hope.
"The tomato sauce they use sits in warmed buckets for long periods of time and the oil rises to the top," explains Christine Hart, R.D., M.S., a weight-loss expert. "They pour an inordinate amount of sauce over the meatballs and then melt cheese over it and close the sub roll. What you receive is a soggy, red, wet liquid bottom roll with about 2,300 calories!" Yeah, we'll pass.
If you're craving a juicy, savory, right-off-the-grill steak, then light up your BBQ and get to grilling yourself—because having it delivered is guaranteed to disappoint.
"Have you ever had a cold or luke-warm steak?" asks Banayan. "It tastes similar to flavorless chicken and has the tendency to more easily get stuck in your teeth." Yuck! Not that confident in your grill game? Learn these 24 Tips to Grill the Best Steak of Your Life!
Sweet and Sour Chicken
We won't take away a staple of ordering in; we know the need for a classic comfort meal brought right to your living room every once in a while. But if you can refrain from ordering a quart of Sweet and Sour Chicken, your belly will thank you.
"It's a complete fat- and sugar-loaded bomb. The chicken pieces are battered in flour and then deep-fried in fat. Additionally, the sweet and sour sauce is made from sugar," says Gisela Bouvier, registered dietitian. "Although restaurant recipes may slightly vary, one portion of sweet and sour chicken will provide around 14 grams of fat and 13 grams of sugar."
Here's a sobering fact: 74 percent of sushi restaurants mislabel their fish. So, that spicy tuna roll may actually be something else.
"When ordering from a no-name sushi takeout place, it's likely you're not getting the fish you thought you were. In some cases, like in New York, you could be getting fish that is on the Do Not Eat list, but you have no idea," says Rachna Govani, founder and CEO of Foodstand. "It's best to only order sushi from a restaurant that you know sources fish locally or opt for vegetarian sushi."
Thai Curry Dishes
Thai curry dishes are usually lamb, chicken or pork—but it's usually low-grade quality meat since they get buried in the sauce. Also, you'll usually find orange fat globules floating on top of the sauce—which is never a good sign. Hart explains that the orange globules show up because they make a big batch of the sauce for the week, refrigerate it nightly, and then the fat in the sauce keeps congealing each time they haul it out to put the week-old prepared meats or poultry into them.
Egg and Tuna Salad Sandwiches
There are two problems with egg and tuna salad sandwiches from restaurants: They're usually high in fat because they're always overloaded with mayonnaise, and they also can spoil easily when they're not stored in cool temperatures or eaten right away. "Not to mention, that they can become soggy quickly and can start to smell very foul shortly after being made," says Bouvier.
Mexican-Style Fast Food
While ingredients that come in most popular Mexican dishes like avocado, cheese, rice, and beans are fine (or even very healthy) in small amounts—the calories add up fast when combined together. "This is especially true when stuffed into a giant tortilla and smothered with sour cream," says board-certified holistic health practitioner Jillian Levy. "Your best option is getting a taco-type salad with the toppings on the side."
Sigh. Basically, this one's a risk because the chances are very high that your burger is going to be made with cheap, farm-raised meat and highly-processed cheese. "It's all very high in calories, sodium, saturated fat, refined carbs and provides little to no actual vitamins or minerals," says Levy. If you're craving a cheeseburger and want it delivered to your door, pony up the extra bucks for a grass-fed burger.
Nevermind the fact that your smoothie can and will melt in transit; commercial smoothies are not the healthy option they want you to believe. "They tend to be very high in sugar and often contain added sweeteners like honey or agave," says Levy. "You're better off making your own and limiting the fruit and even adding some veggies if possible." If you own a blender, we're not sure why you'd ever order in a smoothie, though; you can literally make any of these best-ever smoothies at the press of a button!
According to Liana Werner-Gray, natural food chef and author of The Earth Diet, ignore all fried foods on your take-out menus.
"They're most likely fried in low-quality, genetically modified oil that clogs our pores, creates all kinds of skin issues, and can make us feel sluggish for days!" she says. And if that doesn't turn you off, also keep in mind that fried foods are most likely to arrive soggy and gross. "They're the ultimate fat trap—unless they're actually cooked in high-quality oils like extra virgin coconut oil, tiger nut oil, non-GMO canola oil or olive oil," she explains. With most delivery joints, though, we wouldn't bet on it.
If you're in the mood for something with an Asian flair, rice noodles always appear to be a healthier option. "And yes, while they're considered better for you than wheat noodles, they tend to get rock hard once cooled," says certified nutritionist and author Ariane Resnick. "And if they're made of white rice, they can be very constipating."
It's so tempting on a cold winter night to want nothing more than a comforting bowl of soup. But if you can heat up your own at home, you're much better off. "Soups should ideally not be ordered in since the high temperature and consistency of the soup make it a prime leeching of chemicals from the food containers," says NYC-based registered dietitian Jackie Arnett Elnahar RD, Esq. "Most restaurants do not use BPA-free or green products, so considering the food and food container is important." We suggest you simmer up a delicious pot of soup at home, instead.
If you're craving dessert, skip the cheesecake—it's that simple. "They don't travel well, the crust can become sluggish and they just fall apart in their travels," says Werner-Gray.
For some of us, a giant round container of pasta from a beloved Italian joint nearby could mean several dinners. But that portion size right there is the problem.
"Most Italian restaurants will give you a container that contains about four servings of pasta," says Govani. "Most people don't realize that a serving of pasta is much smaller than what you're served in a takeout container, leading people to overeat. You're better off ordering vegetable primavera if you're craving Italian."
Yes, we know, bacon just sounds like the perfect topping on anything from pizza to sandwiches—but you're taking a big chance when you order it in. "The bacon either arrives half raw and with white fat showing or you get black, chopped up bacon that leaves you with a burnt aftertaste," says Hart. Blech on both accounts.
Stuffed Crust Pizza
Sometimes, you really just need a good slice of pizza. And we'll admit that those stuffed crust pizzas often featured in commercials look pretty delicious. But resist the urge to upgrade your crust!
"Stuffed crusts are high in fat, carbohydrates, and sodium. One slice of stuffed crust pizza without any additional toppings has about 13 grams of fat and over 700 milligrams of sodium," says Bouvier. "Choosing a thin crust pizza with vegetable toppings and less cheese is a healthier choice that still allows you to enjoy pizza."
Anything served in a wrap is a fat bomb; there's no getting around that, sadly.
"Yes, the guts of your Chipotle burrito might be full of protein and veggies, but once you add all the fixings, that's about 700 calories—or approximately two meals," explains Jan Hauser, certified nutritionist and trainer at Personal Trainer Food. "Wrapping everything up in a big, floury tortilla adds another 300 calories that will further insult your waistline. There is no way your body can burn 1,000 calories at once, so that's a guarantee that most of them will end up on your trouble areas."
If you simply can't resist ordering a wrap for delivery, we suggest that you wrap up (no pun intended) one-half and save it for another day so that you can control your portion. Get salad on the side (instead of fries) and always ask for dressing on the side, whether it's supposed to be part of the wrap recipe or atop your salad.
"When you order onion rings and are salivating over the crispy crunch you ordered, you will be disappointed," says Hart. "By the time they're delivered, most of the deep-fried bread has fallen off, and you're left with mostly wet, white onions." Not exactly what you're craving!
If you love a nice cup of herbal tea—such as a green one—just prepare it at home. Do not order it in with your meal if you can help it because, simply put, it's a waste of money. "Herbal teas cost $2-4 when you order it as takeout, which is ridiculously overpriced, especially considering that we can buy an entire box of tea for a few dollars," says Werner-Gray. "I've never understood the extremely high-profit margin these places demand on selling tea when all we're buying is a 10 cent tea bag plus some hot water—and it better be nice clean filtered water at that price!"
Fettuccine is one of the worst to-go meals from an Italian restaurant—or any establishment, for that matter. As registered dietitian and nutritionist Lisa De Fazio, MS, RD explains, "This creamy, cheesy, buttery dish is so high in calories and fat, it may as well be called Heart Attack on a Plate!"