Takeout has saved the businesses in our industry during the pandemic and as we move forward, the service is still a crucial revenue stream for restaurants to be successful. Consider function when it comes to choosing your takeout products because some types of containers are more travel friendly for certain foods. Of course for some menu items, such as pizza, a cardboard box is the way to go, but what about the rest of your menu? Investing in packaging that maintains the integrity of your food is worth it because you want your customers to have a quality experience they can expect again if they came back to dine with you.
There is a large variety to choose from, including aluminum pans, foam shells, plastic hinge containers and paper cups or boxes. Keep in mind that some foods may not be suitable for takeout, no matter what container it is transported in. Consider adjusting your dishes if you choose to put them in a takeout container. For example, add extra sauce to your pasta to prevent it from being too dry. Try to use ingredients that hold better during delivery. If you can, separate sauces and dressings to prevent sogginess. Also, cold and hot components should try to be separated.
Aluminum helps to make food stay at a warm temperature as it is transported. Placing the foil directly on the food, such as wrapping it in foil, isn't good because aluminum is not a good insulator, so place it in a container that allows it to breathe. Aluminum packaging resists a very wide range of temperatures, from very cold to very hot. These containers help to keep moisture from seeping in, making the food able to be refrigerated longer. They are ideal for foods you would like to keep crispy or not get soggy too fast. Be aware that most of these containers do not hold as much weight as the alternatives.
These are great for keeping food at the desired serving temperature. Foam containers will keep hot food hot and cold food cold. With this being said, however, foam containers are slowly being replaced with plastic because of its environmental footprint and recent health concerns regarding its effect from heating the materials it is composed of. ¹ It is also not recommended to reheat food in foam containers for this reason. If you can, try to only keep your room temperature and cold foods in these containers. See some of our foam options below.
Plastic clamshell containers are one the easiest to use. These are perfect if you want to seal in freshness and keep the temperature of recently prepared food. With this being said, these containers tend to trap in moisture, so do not put foods that need to be kept crispy, such as fries or fried chicken. Hot meals are often packaged in plastic clamshells because they require plastics that are not heat sensitive. These containers are able to hold up some of your denser, heavier meals. They are good for entrees with sauces and different parts that are eaten together, such as pasta and meatballs. Clear plastic is a great option to make a great impression visually on your food. Lastly, they are usually made out of a single type of plastic which makes them easy to recycle. See some of what we offer below.
As you probably know, paper bags alone aren’t good to transport food because of their “poor barrier properties, low heat sealability and strength’. ² However, they are often used as a protective case around the container in case of leaking. Paper products can be used for lighter foods, such as salads, soups, appetizers, and of course, beverages. Paper packaging is always the most sustainable and environmentally friendly option. See a few we offer below.
Besides the functional aspect of the various types of containers, are environmental and sustainability factors important to your customers? If so, you may want to go with paper products. Are they anxious about food safety? Consider tamper-evident stickers to give customers the assurance that no one has touched your food besides who prepared it for you. Just a generic sticker is fine, or you could brand it with your logo. This is a great step to take to show your customers you care about their wellbeing. You know your customers better than anyone, so consider what they would prefer as well.
Ferraro Foods is here to help you make the right decision for your take-out packaging needs. Ask your sales representative to help.
See our To-Go Brochure here: To-Go & More