Fast food (also known as Quick Service Restaurant or QSR within the industry itself) is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a packaged form for take-out/take-away. The term "fast food" was recognized in a dictionary by Merriam–Webster in 1951.
Outlets may be stands or kiosks, which may provide no shelter or seating, or fast food restaurants (also known as quick service restaurants). Franchise operations which are part of restaurant chains have standardized foodstuffs shipped to each restaurant from central locations.
The capital requirements involved in opening up a non-franchised fast food restaurant are relatively low. Restaurants with much higher sit-in ratios, where customers tend to sit and have their orders brought to them in a seemingly more upscale atmosphere, may be known in some areas as fast casual restaurants.