Dining » Dining Lead

Eat & Run

How not to blow an entire day ordering food.

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Don't wait till you're hungry -- Would-be lunchers who wait till noon to call in their order will probably be out of luck. At Tomaydo Tomahhdo, deliveries are scheduled by time slots; once a slot fills, orders may no longer be accepted. To avoid being shut out, customers are encouraged to call up to 24 hours in advance. Likewise, DeliverMeFood.com accepts orders up to seven days in advance.

Do you take checks? -- Always confirm your payment arrangement in advance, since policies vary widely for checks and credit cards. At Tastebuds, for instance, credit-card orders must be faxed in, on company letterhead.

Volume discounts -- Most restaurants and delivery services have minimum-order requirements that can be met only if two or three workers (or one absurdly hungry one) pool their selections. Group ordering also helps defray delivery charges, which range from $2 at Teahouse Noodles to $5.95 at DeliveryMeFood -- including a $2 surcharge for an order that didn't meet the required minimum.

Something for the effort -- All delivery people rely on tips. DeliverMeFood.com's Quentin Piotrowksi suggests tipping just as you would a server, from 15 to 20 percent of the bill.

Stockpile sporks -- While most places provide the basics, extra paper plates and napkins will come in handy. And if your workplace allows it, a sharp knife is a big help for slicing sandwiches and pizza.

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