I suck at time management. Hoping to get better about it this year, but it’s still early… One thing that causes a problem with managing your time is “empty” time. Time you spend waiting for whatever: laundry, dinner, or your order at a restaurant. Thankfully, though, many restaurants out there are becoming aware of this and have offered up a solution: in-app ordering. I love in-app ordering! I can take the time to look over the menu and customize my order without holding up other people who are also ordering. Also, you can’t beat anything that helps you avoid standing in line!
Here are just a few of my favorite apps for ordering ahead of time and avoiding the lines.
- Taco Bell: available on the App Store and Google Play
Features: Taco Bell’s app is actually pretty simple! It’s only use is to order in advance. They have the menu split into combos, tacos, burritos, drinks, dollar menu items, etc. There’s even a vegetarian tab if you’re avoiding meat!
Ordering Process: You click whatever item you’re wanting, and it pops up with a complete list of all the ingredients that come in it. You can add extra or remove items in this tab, or you can click on the “add-on” tab to add various other ingredients! They even save your order, so, if you have a “usual”, you can get to it quickly. Super convenient, especially if you customize your food.
Payment Options: You can load a Taco Bell gift card, of course, or you can type in your card number (and save it for next time!). They also offer Visa Checkout!
Wait Time: Once you’ve placed the order, you head to Taco Bell. They tell you to click the button in the app to let them know when you’ve arrived (dining room or drive thru). Unfortunately, they don’t start making the food til you click this button, so it doesn’t save you much time. I live close enough that I usually go ahead and click the button right after I’ve ordered.
Bonus: They have the Explore tab that has puzzles that, as you complete them, help you earn free food and other things.
- Panera Bread: available on the App Store and Google Play
Features: Panera’s app let’s you order food, check your MyPanera rewards, find local bakery-cafes, and keep your profile updated. The menus is broken down into into seasonal items, You Pick Two® combos, salads, soups, sandwiches, etc.
Ordering Process: It’s pretty straightforward. You choose whichever part of the menu you want to order from, and choose your item. If you want it as is, you click “+ Order”. If you want to change it, click “Customize”. They even tell you if the cafe you have chosen is out of certain items or ingredients. If an item you’ve ordered is out of stock but hasn’t been cancelled on the app, they’ll even give you a call to let you know in advance so they can adjust your order and it will still be ready when you arrive!
Payment Options: You can save a your card within the app, or you can type it in each time. Be sure you login so your MyPanera Rewards card is connected, and you can use any rewards you’ve accumulated. They even give out rewards occasionally that are specifically for ordering in the app!
Wait Time: You have two pick-up time options with this app. You can set a specific time in the future, or you can say “Now”. When you say now, your order will be ready 10 minutes after you complete your transaction. You simply drive to Panera, walk in, and pick it up!
Bonus: Just like they do in their cafes, Panera shows you the calories in each item you order. And, on the iPhone, there’s even the option to to push the data to your Health app so you can track your nutrient intake.
- Starbucks: available on the App Store and Google Play
Features: The app helps you keep up with all your registered Starbucks cards, your stars, your rewards level, and your rewards. They have a full range of menu items from drinks to bakery goods to sandwiches available on the app.
Ordering Process: Select your item, and it gets added to your cart. If you want to customize it, click it. You’re then given the opportunity to change the size, add-ins, shot options, flavors, toppings, and milk. Unfortunately, if the Starbucks you have selected doesn’t carry the item you want to order, it doesn’t tell you until after you’ve clicked the item. The app does save your previous order, and it’s right at the top of the menu screen.Payment Options: Use your Starbucks cards. If there’s no money on them, you can load one up, starting at $10, using Visa Checkout.
Wait Time: The app tells you to give your barista 4-7 minutes to prepare your drink. It’s great if you’re already on the way, but don’t do it too far in advance. They make your drink, then set it on the pick-up counter and it sits there waiting for you- cooling down or melting, as the case may be.
Bonus: You get weekly messages that contain a link for a free app, just like you can find on the little cards in the stores themselves. Sometimes it’s even a song!
Always remember to pay attention to what location you’ve selected as your pick-up location for your order! Most apps have location sensing set up, and they are often set to send the order to the restaurant nearest your location. Usually that’s not a problem, but if you’re placing an order to pick up on the way home, you might be going by a different place. So, always be sure to double-check!
So, whether you’ve got the late night munchies, want to eat a little more healthy, or just need that coffee pick-me-up, don’t waste time waiting in line for your order! Order ahead of time, and save yourself the trouble.