Shake up your dinner doldrums with OrderAhead

Have you ever experienced the 4PM freak-out? You know, 4PM. That point in the day when you’re about to pat yourself on the back for getting the grocery shopping done, some laundry folded, maybe cleaned one of the bathrooms, checked a few emails, and shuttled your kiddos to and from school and their myriad afterschool activities, until you realize, shoot! what are we going to eat for dinner tonight???

I have chronic 4PM freak-outs. My girlfriends do, too.   Around 4PM my phone starts blowing up with texts as we grill each other on who’s cooking what and how quickly can we pull together a balanced and delicious meal with the uproar of offspring in the background. And oftentimes we will pull it off – a decent, home cooked meal that would make Rachel Ray proud.

But there will be days when a home cooked meal is not in the cards – when you the caregiver are sick or you’re tending to a sick child (or two), when you’re doing last minute holiday shopping or attending your kid’s winter parade – and you’ll need to order food from outside. You want it to be healthy, tasty and convenient for either pick up or delivery. And you want options. Because what your kids love today could be what they loathe next week.

OrderAhead may be just right for you. OrderAhead is an app for your iPhone, Android or computer that allows you to select a local restaurant based on your zip code, order and pay for your order – all in one transaction. OrderAhead stores your payment information, allowing you to use different merchants without having to constantly re-enter your data. Serving San Francisco, the Peninsula and the South Bay (not to mention Los Angeles and Washington, DC), OrderAhead works with hundreds of local merchants.

OrderAhead challenged me – a busy working mother of twin three-year olds – to use their services and see how easy dinner could be served. In the interests of full disclosure, they partially paid for my experience, but this review is solely my opinion.

Step 1 was to create an account – email address and password. No problem.

Step 2 was to enter zip code for restaurant search area – several places came up but I was pretty milktoast about the pickings. I live in South San Jose and had hoped to see more “family-friendly” places on the list. You know, places where you could get a kids meal that didn’t resemble a frozen dinner or that didn’t consist of a single food item. But the list of restaurants for my area was pretty limited. Also, most of the restaurants in my area only offered pick up service, not delivery. I’m told that this is not the case in San Francisco and the Peninsula – so people living up there may have a better experience in this regard. But eventually I found a couple places that I sometimes use and decided to go with a family favorite – Chaat Café.

Step 3 was to select menu items – very easy. In fact, easier than ordering by phone because I didn’t have to contend with a noisy restaurant background or trying to spell out my name over the phone.

Step 4 was to enter credit card info – pretty basic.

Step 5 was to select pick up time – easy again.

That was it. All that was left was for me to harass my husband to leave work on time to pick up the food. There was no waiting in line once he got there – OrderAhead customers get to skip the line and just pick up their order. No payment. No grief. The food was tasty, hot and nothing was missing. We were a happy family that night.

So this is what I think about Order Ahead. If you find restaurants you like in their listing (and they’re always looking for recommendations on new merchants to partner with) then this app is pretty helpful, because your data is already in the system and you only have to select your restaurant. But if you’re in the South Bay then be prepared to do the pick up…or have your Bay Area Sitter pickup for you if you’ve hired one for the night : ) If you live in the Peninsula or San Francisco then I am told your choices are infinite, as well as your options for pickup or delivery. But be careful with smaller merchants – many close after lunch until dinner (as in, no delivery between 2-5PM), and the last thing you want is to try to arrange for a dinnertime delivery only to be told it will be an hour longer than you’d expected because the restaurant just reopened.

OrderAhead is offering Bay Area Sitters clients a one-time $10 credit to try out their services. If you’re interested, just register for an account and enter ‘BAS’ in the promo code section.

We tell our kids to try everything at least once, and I would say the same for OrderAhead. You might find your fave local restaurants on their list. Or you may not but instead experiment with a new place. At the very least, for one night, you can save yourself from the 4PM freak out : )

Let us know your experience with ordering takeout through this or any other platform. We’d love to know your suppertime secrets!

For more information on OrderAhead please visit

About Rabia Chaudhry

Rabia Chaudhry is a wife, mother, political junkie and lover of the written word. She lives in the South Bay while dreaming of one day moving back to her home state of New York.