Does it make sense to buy insulated bags or catering bags when delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats, Postmates and others? Don't they usually give you free bags?
Do you have to use the bag or can you deliver without them?
Let's talk about this. Not just about bags themselves, but do bags help you with your business? Do they hinder it? What's the best practice?
Do you have to use an insulated bag delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates, Uber Eats?
I could argue both ways on that question. I wrote more on this when Grubhub was telling drivers their contract requires use of the bags.
The argument I have with myself would start with how Grubhub and Doordash have stated that bags ARE required. There's even been language that they could terminate you.
The other side of me would counter that by law a gig company cannot control the method in which you do the work. Requiring the use of a bag crosses that line.
The important thing in gig work is the end result, not the method. If you are getting the food to the customer in the best condition possible, how you do it is irrelevant.
Yeah, well, (I respond to myself) if you have the food in the car for more than a few minutes, I have a hard time seeing how you get the food to the customer in the best possible condition without using a bag. Are you carrying a food warmer around in your car?
“Pfffffft” I come back. Yep, the nuclear option. Ever see what happens to french fries in a hot bag? Mush.
If I can't even agree with myself on this topic, I'm sure not convincing anyone else anything. I'm not sure there IS a best answer, but having said that, I strongly recommend using bags.
Why I Use Delivery Bags
The bottom line is, using bags, and more recently, drink carriers, allow me to do my business better and make more money. We're running a business, so something like this should make business sense.
It gets the attention of restaurant staff
I've pissed off a number of other drivers before – or more they've gotten pissed because they're standing there waiting to get noticed when I walk in, get my food and walk out.
Doesn't seem fair, does it?
But for all the restaurant staff knows, that other driver is just another customer. But I'm waving my bag around like it's a freaking billboard. Because guess what? It's a freaking billboard.
That bag says I'm here to pick up a delivery. I don't have to say anything in most places, the bag says it all. And the bag gets attention.
It gets the respect of the restaurant staff
I admit it, you can call me a brown noser with the restaurants. But it gets results.
You know there are restaurants that demand the bag. There's a reason. They get worried about these deliveries. It is THEIR reputation on the line.
These restaurants aren't making money on delivery, at best they break even.For them it's a way to get exposure. But if the food is in crappy condition when it arrives, that's no good to them.
I walk in with my bag, and my goofy red shirt and fedora and sometimes even my bow tie and all of that is communicating that I give a crap about what I'm doing. It's telling them that I'm going to take care of the food and the customer as well. That puts them at ease.
And when a half dozen drivers are waiting for food, more often than not I'm getting attention first. That gets me in and out the door.
The right equipment speeds up the process
I buy some bags myself simply because there are times the right bag gets me out of the restaurant faster.
Sometimes the sack is too large to fit in that floppy Doordash bag. You fumble with the bag and zipper and it kills time.
One bag I bought, I got for one reason: A Velcro lid. Next time you fumble with the zipper on a bag ask how nice it would be to have Velcro.
I have larger bags for larger orders. Drop the food in, easier to carry it all, get in, get out.
If you have the right assortment of bags and use the right bags for the different orders, you get the food to the customer faster.
I started using drink carriers for that reason. I'm too scared of drinks tipping in those cheap cardboard ones (especially the ones at Taco Bell if you know the ones I mean).
Putting drinks in and taking them out of the cup holders, or balancing them in the car… that's a time suck.
It speeds off the handoff to the customer.
Enough times, the customer is waiting outside. Carrying the food in the plastic bags, you look like someone who just came from the grocery store. But when you have that delivery bag, there's your freaking billboard again. T
he customer sees that and right away, oh, that must be my delivery. Sometimes it saves several minutes. It's easier to get the food to the customer door, less fumbling.
It speeds things up.
The bag puts the customers and restaurants at ease.
Why do you think so many places are sealing up the bags or taping them shut? There are enough reports of drivers stealing food. Restaurants know about it, customers know about it.
When you are using the bag, that is often seen as another form of protection. Yes, it's possible to open the bag, eat the food, close it up again. But the bag just creates a symbol that the food is being protected from the driver.
I take that further, keeping the food in the back of the car.
The bags and drink carriers make me money
The restaurants respond to me faster. The customers respond faster. It's more efficient for me, and all of that means I get in and out.
I would say that in most deliveries I'm saving several seconds, if not minutes. Seconds don't seem like much, but some days I'm doing 30 or more deliveries.
Part of why I get as many as 30 deliveries done in a day is that I saved enough seconds on 29 of those deliveries that they added up to the point I can GET that 30th delivery.
More deliveries in the same time frame = more money.
I think it makes a difference on tips, especially on Uber Eats and Postmates deliveries. There are enough times where there's a cash tip on top of the tip in the app.
I can't prove that it's because of the bag, and it probably isn't JUST the bag. But the thing is, when the customer feels like the food has been taken care of (and protected) it does make a difference.
Sometimes, not always, not most the time, but sometimes, it means a little more money.
More deliveries. More money. Seems to me a good reason to use the bag, you know?
What are the best delivery bags?
I think that depends. Are you looking for cheap or free? Or something to help you improve your efficiency and service?
I will post a lot of links below. Links to Amazon and to KaTom Restaurant Supply are affiliate links. That means I may receive a small referral fee if you purchase from those links, and those fees help keep this website operational. You can read more about affiliate links here. O
ther links are not affiliate links and there is no commission received for them. Either way, I'll give my honest opinion, good or bad.
Grubhub Delivery Bags
As far as bags provided by the company, you can't do any better than Grubhub's. There's one simple design thing with them that's just genius.
They made the carrying straps adjustable on both their smaller bag AND their pizza bag that… you can adjust the straps so it acts like a normal upright bag OR a pizza bag that lays flat.
They are well built, firm, substantial bags with heavy duty zippers and it's easy to get the food in and out. They're good bags.
Grubhub recently opened an online driver shop and the thing is, you don't have to drive for them to order. You can get the set of bags for $25.
I'll just say, I think that's the best you can do for that money. Two high quality bags for that price, it may be worth getting them even for other delivery platforms, they're just that good. I know, the GH logo is a bit of an issue.
I actually ordered a replacement set myself – I could have driven to the office to see if I could get new bags, but the time would have cost me more than what I paid for the bags.
Besides, I can do a package opening video now.
Doordash, Postmates, Uber store bags
You know the bags I'm talking about. Floppy cloth bags that have a thin foil lining. They're not really insulated, I'm not sure they really protect the food.
But, with Doordash and Postmates, they're free, so that's a thing.
Uber Eats wasn't giving them away but they did let you buy one. I bought one simply because it didn't have a delivery platform's logo. That allowed me to use it no matter who I'm delivering for.
My favorite type of bag: with a hook and latch lid.
I bought a bag made by Servit more than a year ago that has been great. I have the red version and highly recommend it.
I've since picked up a similar bag by American MetalCraft. There are a few features that really set this type of bag apart.
- Hook and Latch closure (think Velcro). This is huge. Next time you fumble with zippers, ask yourself if Velcro wouldn't be so much better. The lid is sealed up and it happens quick. You open it quick. The speed makes it so worth it.
- Side pockets that work well for holding drinks. On each side you can either use it as one big pocket or there's a Velcro piece that lets it act like two. It's not perfect for drinks but has worked well.
- Firmer sides. This is one thing I like about the American MetalCraft version better the Servit bag. While the floppy little totes are more affordable, sometimes getting the food into the bags can be a headache.
There is a black version of the Servit bag available on Amazon and is currently selling for $49.99 with free shipping. My Servit bag has been quite durable.
Another recent acquisition
I picked this up off of Amazon because of the novelty of the cup holders. Maybe I'll turn around and sell it or give it away – it's okay but not as good as the others.
The cup holders themselves are a nice touch but the bag itself, I bought mine for around $40 and honestly had hoped I'd get a bit more for it. It's basically a larger version of the entre level bags, with cup holders added in.
The cup holders are an innovative touch. I don't like that there's not a solid platform or sheet of plastic in the bottom of the bag itself., so the food sags. In my mind, the dimensions are just about ideal. I have seen this go in and out of stock on Amazon.
Think about getting a larger bag to help you deliver for Doordash, Postmates, Uber Eats and even Grubhub.
If you have the free Doordash or Postmates bags, maybe think about a larger bag as your next step.
Some orders, you know the kind of orders I'm talking about – the Red Robins, the restaurants that use Grocery Sack sized bags (I just realized some younger drivers may not know what I'm talking about) or the Asian restaurants that like to put food in boxes, don't fit in smaller bags.
I recommend something 22×13 because you can fit two or three sacks in sideways, and they're wide enough for a 12″ pizza box.
I mentioned “even Grubhub” in the heading. Now, I will give Grubhub some credit for providing a larger pizza bag to drivers (though I've heard they may start charging drivers for them). Those larger bags are very versatile as they can be carried flat or upright, meaning they can work quite well for larger packages.
However, when upright they're only ten inches wide and I prefer something a little wider.
I did once find a larger version of the Servit bag (22x13x16) on sale one time for $9.99 plus shipping. Lately I'm not finding it for less than $30.
Like the smaller version, I like the hook and latch closure, which makes it very efficient. However, at the larger size I'm finding the softer sides can be an issue.
It's supposed to be 16 inches tall but feels like around 10. It's a great bag, but I wish American Metalcraft had a similar size option. A couple of good options for a more economical larger bag are the following by Winco and HomeVative
There are a lot of similar options when you search for Catering Bags on Amazon, Some are cheaper like one by by NZ Home that has similar dimensions for $22. They might be good – the NZ one looks about as sturdy as the Freshie (but at least it's half the price).
Also, think about a pizza bag
The first day I did Uber Eats I picked up a pizza bag on sale at a restaurant supply store. It was a great bag, but the strap was sewn to the seam at the top of the bag and broke loose fairly quickly. That makes me hesitant to recommend that style.
I recently purchased a replacement where the strap is more secure. I recommend getting at least a 20 inch bag (and possibly larger if you have any restaurants that sell those monster 24 inch pizzas).
The larger Winco delivery bag listed above can be a great option especially for multiple pizzas. It's 22 x 22 and tall enough to fit several pizzas in.
For a more traditional pizza bag you might try this one by American MetalCraft
This one by Winco is a bit lower in price. I like that it's larger (24 inches) and would handle just about anything a pizza place can throw at you. However, it has the straps sewn into the top seam, similar to the one I mentioned that broke earlier.
Of course, you can always search on Amazon. I did recently purchase a 24 inch bag by NewStar from them. It was similar to the bag shown below (the 24 inch version has since sold out). I like the more supportive straps, but it has a foil lining.
I'm not sure how durable that will be, only time will tell.
Does it make sense to get Drink Carriers or Caddies when delivering for Grubhub Doordash Postmates or Uber Eats?
The one thing I like about the Freshie bag is the drink holders. Great idea. The pockets on the servit bags work nicely for that reason. Drinks are a pain. They just are.
I don't like the cardboard drink carriers some restaurants have because it's too easy for drinks to tip or spill. I dislike using my car's cup holders, it's just extra time putting the drinks in and taking them out. It's all about getting in and out quick, so to me it made sense to get a drink carrier.
We rank five of the best drink carriers you can use for Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash, and/or Postmates deliveries (or for any other delivery company at that).
I tried out the drink carrier from the Grubhub store.
When I ordered the replacement Grubhub bags, I also decided to try out the Grubhub cupholder. It's okay. I like that it's collapsible, it will hold six cups. A large McDonalds cup will fit perfectly into it.
Anything larger won't slide all the way down and these things are kind of shallow – I'm a little worried about high center of gravity and stability of these things. I found an unbranded version on Amazon that's actually a little cheaper.
The 4-Cup Drink Caddy
Since I was on a curiosity kick, I ordered this one called Drink Caddy. It's polyester, and that's good and bad. It makes it collapsible, and it's a little more flexible with larger drinks.
But it's not good for a single drink – when you carry it it lists to the side and I worry about the drink falling or spilling.
It does have these loops that can adjust to secure the smaller drinks and that's a good thing. But when you have four cups in there, they all end up so close to each other you can have them knocking the lids off one another.
I'm surprised how steady they are in the car when there's more than one drink. It does look awesome from a presentation standpoint, getting great comments from restaurants and customers.
The Michaels Cup Holder (Art Caddy)
There's a less fancy but MUCH stabler option. It's not even branded or marketed as a drink carrier, but so far it's worked great for me.
It's the Art Caddy by Creatology, sold by Michaels. They don't offer it for online sales so you have to go to a store to buy it. That's a pain, but it's only $4. Update: You can now have these shipped through that same link).
It's almost perfect in its size and functionality. Big enough for larger drinks, deep enough that you don't worry about center of gravity. There's good space between the cups so there's not a lids colliding issue. The width and solidity make it very stable in the car.
If I had any complaints, it's not as pretty and it takes up space when not being used. But… did I mention it's $4? If you have a Michael's in your area, go pick one up.
That's kind of my roundup on using bags and drink carriers.
Here's the deal on these things: Remember you are running a business. Also remember you are not an employee.
Do not, do not, do not, do NOT buy a bag simply because you want to make these companies happy.
Now personally, I'm not a fan of wearing the gear from these companies because they haven't earned the right for me to do so. The big thing here though is, don't do this from an employee mindset.
But DO think in terms of operating like a business. I think too many people go too far with “I'm independent, I don't need no stinking bag.”
The bottom line with anything you get, you have to ask, do they help you do your business in a better manner?
My take is, it does. It gets me in and out of the restaurant faster. This stuff develops a good relationship with the restaurants, which helps me with the above.
It makes me look professional with the restaurant and the customer. In the end, it makes me money by letting me do more deliveries in the day AND sometimes helps with the tips.
It's an investment that has paid for itself.
Do you have any particular bags, carriers or other items that are game changers for you?
Let us know in the comments if you have anything that has made a huge difference for you.