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Doggie Bags


Kerry Beal
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Over on a thread about food delivery in London - one of the posters said "I don't know if you are a cheapskate like me, but I do take doggie bags home".

I've never really considered the taking or leaving of left over food in a restaurant to be the sign of a cheapskate vs a spendthrift, though I suppose there are people who approach it that way.

Yesterday I was out for lunch by myself. I was not ravenously hungry so only ate a small part of the food on my plate - but when approached by the server as to whether I wanted a doggie bag I turned it down. There was certainly enough food left to make a rather large second meal. I think the decision was based on a couple of things - I knew I already had a fridge full of leftovers at home and finding space would be an issue - and secondly the main item was deep fried and I don't find those to heat up well for a second go.

So I'm curious to know people's doggie bag habits - do you, don't you, always, sometimes? What are the determining factors for determining if you'll take the leftovers home or not?

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It's a rare occasion when I have enough left on the plate to be worth taking. :raz: When I do, it's still a rare occasion when I take it with me. I've never considered whether it has anything to do with being cheap or not. I think the main factors are if I'm going straight home from the restaurant and whether or not the reason there is still that much on the plate is because the food sucked. :biggrin:

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I generally take food home, unless it's something that won't heat up well, or I'm not going right home. As I tend to be habitual about which restaurants I go to, if I know I'm headed somewhere that there will be good leftovers, I tend to do any other errands first so I can go straight home. I have been known to bring a cooler on Sundays when we go to Dim Sum since we invariably end up going to the store (or stores) afterwards as I plan for any culinary projects I have brewing for the week. And I'm NOT leaving any hargaow (sp?) uneaten!

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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In the Uk at least, food portions are significantly smaller than in the USA mostly eradicating the need to do this in my experience at least. In most of the casual restaurants I have eaten in across the states I tend to leave more than I manage to eat and so have asked for doggie bags then.

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I about never do. If its good I eat all of the entree and am left with excess side dishes. And so many restaurant foods reheat badly...or have lost their sauce...or weren't worth eating in the first place.

Occasionally I'll take a doggie bag just to avoid explaining that the food sucked.

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I've almost never done this, unless there seemed to be a possibility of hurting someone's feelings if I said 'No thanks' to the doggy bag offer (this happened recently with a dessert). I seldom order more than I can eat, and usually don't go home immediately after I dine out, so the I'd end up awkwardly carrying about something that would probably not be good to eat by the time I got home with it.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Provided I have enjoyed the food and provided it can stand re-heating or be enjoed cold I have no qualms about asking for a doggie bag if one is not offered. But I do know people who consider it beneath them to be seen with a doggie bag. I also have heard of one chap who considers that eating ANY leftover is a sign that you are poor. He came from an impoverished home, is now very well to do and leftovers seem threatening to him.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Doggie bags are probably the most inefficient recycling system ever. You cart the stuff away (usually in non biodegradable plastic bags and Styrofoam boxes), then plonk it in the fridge for a week or several.

Eventually, out of sheer shame, you clean up the fridge and find stuff from restaurants that have gone out of business months before and you bin the lot. Cut out the middle man. If you didn't want to eat it in the restaurant, you probably aren't going to eat it ever.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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We were in Benihana this past week. With the meal, you get salad, soup, three shrimp plus your meal. The lady next to me with hubby and sister also had a sushi appetizer. Ate, soup, ate salad, ate shrimp, ate sushi, ate some veggies with the hibachi meal.

By the time here entree of chicken came, she was full. The hibachi chef put it in a nice little bowl and placed it at her place. She didn't eat it. The server offered a box to take it home. I was already taking most of my entree home, so there were a stack of boxes on the table.

The lady refused, so the server took it away and presumable tossed it. Now this was a lovely bowl of nice chicken chunks, delicious looking. the lady hadn't even touched one chunk. It would have made delicious chicken salad or stir fry the next day.

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Doggie bags are probably the most inefficient recycling system ever. You cart the stuff away (usually in non biodegradable plastic bags and Styrofoam boxes), then plonk it in the fridge for a week or several.

Eventually, out of sheer shame, you clean up the fridge and find stuff from restaurants that have gone out of business months before and you bin the lot. Cut out the middle man. If you didn't want to eat it in the restaurant, you probably aren't going to eat it ever.

I simply must disagree. Perhaps if you are fortunate (or not!|) to eat out frequently this might be an issue but for those of us who eat out at most once a week it is rarely an issue. Most of my restaurant meals are lunches and any leftovers are incorporated into my evening meal that same night or become my lunch for the following day.

edited to fix spelling.

Edited by Anna N (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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We don't eat out much, but our doggies are usually our doggy bags.

One exception is a Mexican restaurant in Columbia, MO. The portions are so huge, and we don't order the same dishes, so we can usually eat for three more meals on the leftovers. They do have the best chips I have ever eaten.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Fairly often, but I never call it a doggie bag, I just ask if I can take the rest home. If a portion is very large, I may consciously try to eat only half and have lunch the next day, instead of stuffing myself. If I didn't eat it all because I didn't like it, I won't take it home.

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I almost always take leftovers home. Like many of you, my exception is if it's something that is fried or otherwise won't reheat well. Most of our lunches are recycled from dinners.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Funny you bring this topic up but the other day one of the newspapers down here ran a story about a bunch of high profile restaurants refusing to provide customers with doggie bags--they were scared that someone would take food home, store it improperly, get ill and then attempt to sue the restaurant. The article didn't mention if the fear was based on anything real (i.e. Would the restaurant actually be liable? Has this ever happened before in Australia?) or exactly how widespread it is. The only time I've asked for doggie bags is if the restaurant serves chocolates or something like that after dessert. I find the dessert courses in the typical degustation enough (or even too much) sweet stuff for one day. Did this at a lot of places in Sydney and no one cared. Presumably restaurants are less worried about giving away that sort of thing.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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I eat out a lot. When I eat everything I am served in restaurants I gain weight. So I try to make a doggie bag plan before I start digging in, by asking, what would be good for breakfast or lunch tomorrow? I eat the non-chosen items and leave with my doggie bag, knowing I have one less meal to prepare the next day.

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I rarely eat out - maybe 6-8 times a year - but when I do it's almost always at a place that has very good food. And it's almost always more than I can eat, so I always take the leftovers home and eat them the next day. :smile:

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Fairly often, but I never call it a doggie bag, I just ask if I can take the rest home. If a portion is very large, I may consciously try to eat only half and have lunch the next day, instead of stuffing myself. If I didn't eat it all because I didn't like it, I won't take it home.

Exactly. And I have never heard a waiter call it a doggie bag either. Usually they ask if we would like that wrapped up?

We don't eat out often, especially if there's only the two of us, and when we do there is rarely enough food to take home, since I have a husband with a hollow leg and a horror of waste. But since my daughter went off to college I've noticed that she and her friends, and my 20-something nephew who I now see regularly, are religious about bagging up whatever is not eaten. They get downright excited by the prospect of taking home real food. It's sweet. The funny part is that they often are just as happy to have everything put together in the same container.

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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I think there's a cultural thing here. I know that taking home leftovers is common in the US, but in Ireland it would be considered seriously crass to ask for a doggie bag. That might be gradually changing (mainly as people/portions become influenced by US travel) but my experience is that diners of my parents age for example are still vaguely horrified when they see it done.

Certainly, I've never asked for it myself, but then again I only ever order as much as I want, and portion sizes here aren't designed for multiple meals!

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I think there's a cultural thing here. I know that taking home leftovers is common in the US, but in Ireland it would be considered seriously crass to ask for a doggie bag. That might be gradually changing (mainly as people/portions become influenced by US travel) but my experience is that diners of my parents age for example are still vaguely horrified when they see it done.

Certainly, I've never asked for it myself, but then again I only ever order as much as I want, and portion sizes here aren't designed for multiple meals!

I've never asked to have my leftovers packed up to take away, but I've been in situations where I was asked whether I'd like to take home what I hadn't eaten; is this never done in the UK?

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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They don't really do doggie bags here in Italy. I've seen it done, but so rarely, I'd consider it an anomoly. I admit, I often want one, especially since my son only ever eats HALF of whatever is in front of him. It'd be great to be serve it to him again for a second meal!

I'm with the Waste Not camp, I'd rather take home whatever I didn't finish than throw it in the bin.

In my restaurant days, I remember staff eating off the unfinished plates of patrons! That always grossed me out.

I think what I miss most about the US is the absence of good takeout (other than pizza) more than doggie bags though!

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I cannot resist. I have a doggy bag story.

Once, many years ago, when we were really strapped for cash always, my DH was on a traveling expense account. We lived in the province Quebec, where people take food seriously and the restaurants are good. Ed had eaten a huge steak out for dinner with his boss and brought home a doggy bag with the rest of the steak he couldn't eat to give to our dog. I ate it. :raz: Delicious.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Rarely -- Mainly because we generally can't get food home and under 40F within an hour of leaving the restaurant. I figure it's been below 140 for an hour by the time I leave, and will be out of the fridge for another hour when I reheat and eat, so that makes three. Our dogs go with the same rules we do, even if they can't tell time.

At least in San Francisco the take-away containers need to be biodegradable. They are somewhat better than the foam containers for heat transfer, but when I do take away and refrigerate, it is not in the packaging supplied by the restaurant.

Maybe one day the high-end restaurants will offer a flash-chill option before stuffing things into little packages...

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