The best meal is home-cooked, with fruits, grains and vegetables grown from your hand-tilled garden and served at your family dinner table adorned with fresh flowers.
So, yeah, that takes care of most nights.
But what about the other nights, when one kid has soccer practice, the other has play rehearsal, and you haven’t had time to cut those fresh flowers? That’s what takeout, delivery and fast-casual dining are for.
One easy way to see what’s cooking tonight is to check your apps. Most chain restaurants have apps now that let users order, pay quicker or get a deal.
8 best restaurant apps to try
Noodles and Company: One stand-out of this app is that it offers ingredient details, nutrition information and an allergen guide. Other features include ordering online, mobile pay, free menu-item perks for signing up and referring a friend, and a free birthday treat.
Red Robin: Rewards include a free birthday burger and every 10th item is free. Deals include 35 percent off an entree to-go order.
McDonald’s: This chain offers freebies and discounts every day, from free fries with any sandwich purchase to buy-one-get-one free meal deals to $2 off a purchase of more than $10.
Domino’s: Order on your smart phone and track its preparation to delivery or pick up. Customers can access their saved and recent orders, pay for the order and earn points toward a free pizza.
Outback Steakhouse: Check the wait time, use it to pay at your table, and receive 50 percent off on your fourth visit by joining the Dine Rewards program.
Five Guys: It has a location finder, naturally, but you can also place your order before leaving and have it ready when you arrive. The app also allows you to save your order for faster order-to-pickup times.
Panera Bread: The app guarantees pickup 10 minutes after you place an order. Redeem rewards, save favorites and access previous orders. Nutrition information is available for every item.
Don’t forget this…
Starbucks: Maybe there aren’t many parents getting their kids dinner at Starbucks, though I’m intimately familiar with at least one. This popular app, however, may help parents survive until dinner with free drinks, refills and the ability to order ahead and pick up without waiting in line.