Various delivered restaurant food items on a table.

Food delivery is about much more than pizza these days. If you’re staying in, you can get delivery food from your favorite local restaurants with a few taps or clicks. The delivery driver can leave the food on your doorstep.

Is Delivery Safe During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, told The Atlantic that “cooked foods are unlikely to be a concern unless they get contaminated after cooking.” You might want to avoid uncooked foods like salad, but “there should be very little risk” with cooked foods that are properly handled.

Morse continued: “There can be transmission through contaminated inanimate objects, but we think the most important route of transmission is respiratory droplets.” That’s how the CDC says COVID-19 spreads, too. Based on this, your main risk is likely through infected individuals coughing, sneezing, or perhaps even just breathing near you. The interaction with your delivery driver might be the riskiest part.

That’s one reason why more delivery services are adding “contactless” deliveries. You can ask them to leave the food at your door, so you don’t even have to interact with the delivery driver—and, of course, you can tip online. Even if a delivery app doesn’t offer a special “no-contact” delivery option, you can send a message to the delivery person through the delivery app and ask them to leave the food at the door when they arrive.

If you do get food or anything else delivered, it’s a good idea to wash your hands right after you touch the container and before you eat. Transfer the food from the takeout container to another dish.

Many states are allowing restaurants and bars to stay open for delivery and takeout, even if those restaurants aren’t allowed to seat and serve customers. Many delivery services are now waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants to better support small businesses during this challenging time, too. With what we know right now, getting delivery food from a restaurant is a good way to support local businesses and give yourself a break from cooking.

How to Order Food Online

Signs for GrubHub, Postmates, and Uber Eats in a restaurant.
David Tonelson/

Most restaurant delivery services work just like Uber or Lyft—they pay a driver to head to the restaurant, pick up your food for you, and then deliver it to you. The driver is affiliated with the delivery service and isn’t a restaurant employee.

Certain restaurants in your area might only be available on specific apps. It’s worth checking several apps out, especially if you can’t find your favorite restaurant on the first one you check.

You’ll probably pay more than if you picked up takeout in person. For some restaurants, prices may be higher than they are in the restaurant, and there are generally delivery fees and tips to consider. However, these services sometimes offer a discount on your first order.

Here’s a list of the services you should check out, ranked in order of popularity:

  • DoorDash is now the most popular food delivery service in the US. It promises access to over 300,000 restaurants across the US and Canada.
  • Grubhub is a popular food delivery service that also says is features over 300,000 restaurants. The same company owns Seamless.
  • Uber Eats is owned by Uber. It uses Uber’s network of drivers to pick up food from a variety of nearby restaurants and deliver it to you.
  • Postmates is a delivery service that offers delivery from local restaurants. Beyond food from restaurants, drivers will pick up and deliver a variety of other things from local businesses, from groceries and alcohol to clothes and pharmaceuticals.
  • Waitr is available in some US states and now offers contactless delivery, too. There may be other smaller services, like Waitr, that are popular where you live.

Once you’ve chosen a delivery service app and found a restaurant, you just have to create an account and place your order. You can order via the website or install the service’s app on your iPhone or Android phone. You can even tip online and give instructions (like leaving the food at your door) to the driver. It’s a simple process, and you can use the same app to order food again in the future.

Of course, some restaurants—like pizza places—have their own delivery drivers. If you have a favorite restaurant, you might want to give it a call and ask about the best way you can order food for delivery.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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