How to Keep Costs Down When Ordering Food Delivery

By Christine Ascher on September 5, 2018

One of the biggest challenges of living in an apartment for the first time is that you’ll no longer have a meal plan to ensure that you’re well-fed. Instead, you’ll have to prepare your own meals every day. If, like most college students, you’re not a big fan of cooking (or you just don’t have the time to cook), ordering food delivery is a tempting alternative. Unfortunately, if you order food delivery too often, the cost can add up pretty quickly. To keep the cost of your food delivery habit to a minimum, check out some of the following ways to save money.

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Stick to Ordering When You Have a Code

The best way to save money when ordering food delivery is to try to stick to ordering when you have a promo code. Apps like Postmates and Doordash offer frequent deals provided that you have the right code, so try to keep track of the discount codes that you receive and try to order accordingly. While sometimes these discounts can be applied to any type of food that you order, such as when you can get free delivery, other times you may have to order from a certain place or choose a certain type of food in order to save money. While it’s not a good idea to order food delivery just because you have the code—as you might actually end up ordering more often and spending more money that way—keep the discounted options in mind if you’re going to be ordering food anyway.

Order During Off Times

One of the major costs of food delivery, especially if you’re ordering from a place that’s not right in your area, is, of course, the delivery cost. However, you can save some money and keep the delivery cost under control by ordering during off times when there’s less demand. If you’re planning to order food delivery, try ordering a couple hours before a mealtime. You’ll be able to pay a lower delivery fee, and you can just warm your food back up when you’re ready to eat. In addition, as a general rule, make sure that you check the delivery fee before you order food, so you know exactly how much you’re paying and don’t get caught off-guard by a higher fee.

Stick to Places Close to Home

Another way to keep the cost of food delivery down is to limit yourself to ordering from restaurants nearby. The closer the place that you’re ordering from, the lower your delivery fee will be, so you can save a lot of money this way. If your options for food nearby are limited, it’s a good idea to set a limit for yourself in terms of how far away you can order from. If you have a rule already set out for yourself, then the next time you’re looking for a place to order dinner from you’ll be able to automatically rule some places out that may be too expensive.

Be Realistic about How Much You Can Eat 

One common mistake when it comes to ordering food delivery that can make the cost quickly add up is to get overexcited and order too much food. When you’re ordering from a restaurant instead of eating one of the same boring meals that you always make for yourself, you might be tempted to order more than you can actually eat just because you’re treating yourself to food delivery anyway. However, if you fall into this habit you’ll run the risk not only of wasting food when you can’t finish it all, but also of wasting money. One good strategy for avoiding this problem is to set a limit for yourself on how much you can spend when ordering food delivery,  rather than just ordering as much food as you think you want.

Consider Subscribing to Delivery Apps

If you order food delivery often, you may actually want to consider paying for a subscription like Postmates Unlimited. Because delivery fees can be quite expensive, you may be able to save money by paying a flat rate monthly fee in order to get food delivery as often as you like—especially if you tend to use the same delivery service regularly. Keep track of how much you spend on delivery fees each month to determine if it would be worthwhile for you to get a delivery subscription.

Food delivery can feel like a lifesaver for a college student who doesn’t like to cook, or who doesn’t have time. Unfortunately, if you’re also on a student budget, the cost of food delivery can become a huge burden on your wallet. Rather than having to cut out the luxury of food delivery altogether, however, try out some of the above techniques to keep your monthly delivery budget under control.

By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a senior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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