Winner, Winner, Family Dinner: A Parents View of Meals To-Go

To-go. Takeout. Off-premise if you’re into industry-speak. (I’m into it). In my family, the need state that “to-go” satisfies is not unlike breaking the glass to reach a fire extinguisher: It is the Plan B to dining out, and chosen when we are physically and/or emotionally exhausted and family dinner out is not an option. An overtired and hangry kiddo elevates this need state to such a degree that at times I wish I could drive to pick up dinner with a siren on my Prius. Quite simply, I order dinner to-go when I need a win. But with a host of tasty options within a short radius, how does a restaurant win the share of stomach?

Stellar food quality is the cost of entry and my first expectation. So, restaurants, for your next trick, please surprise us and delight us with entertainment and packaging.

Because the food is ready when we arrive home, we don’t need a wait-buster activity or game for my child alone—we will devour our meals and have extra time to just play and laugh together. My family is looking for entertainment after the meal. To-go meals have the power to fuse the in-restaurant experience (the elevated quality and craveable food we love) with the in-home experience, and a deliver a memorable family experience. Restaurants, you have considerable latitude to put your spin on our family movie night, game night, or (if you’re capturing lunch traffic) picnics in the great outdoors. We can’t always invite our full-sized board games to the dinner table, so a nice quality travel version would be the perfect solution. Bonus points if you make us laugh.

Now come in close for this one as I give you a tip for impressing the Moms even more: sturdy, dishwasher safe, microwaveable to-go containers offer the same cachet among circles of moms as a cute shirt that we just bought on sale. Ooooh! This is NICE! Where did you get it? It’s an unexpected word-of-mouth referral that does wonders. We collect/trade/hoard/love those containers and we mention your restaurant every single time. Truth.

Meg Ross is a Business Development Director, writer, and mom.

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