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Do you doggie bag?

There was a recent online WSJ article about taking leftover food home from restaurants and it contrasted the different attitudes between American and Euros.

I'm curious, amongst chowhounds ... do you doggie bag?

I almost always do, unless (1) I am travelling and staying at a hotel or (2) I have plans afterwards, e.g. theatre, movie, etc.

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  1. ALWAYS... unless it's something silly and a waste of packaging like three bites of a dish or a salad... but I am the queen of take out and left overs. :)


    1. Generally, I have the server bag it and then I end up leaving it on the table. I wonder how often that happens or I'm the only forgetful one.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        We have done it too or worse, leave it in the car when we get home.

        1. re: Candy

          LOL, the hardest thing is trying to remember where I might have left it! I have left chinese food overnight in the car in the summer--not pleasant.

          1. re: Candy

            I once stopped into a store on the walk home and left a big container of Indian food in one of the dressing rooms. The store must have hated me. But in response to the OP, I love leftovers!

          2. re: chowser

            I accidentally leave my bag 90% of the time. Last time I did that was in Macaroni Grill after watching an 80 year-old walk off and forget his own doggie bag but saw him walk back just seconds after. I did worse than him and I'm under 30.

          3. Definitely...servings at most American restaurants seem to serve two (or more!). It's not at all like that in Europe which is why they don't typically doggie bag at all over there.

            Of course there are a few things that don't doggie bag well. Nachos (if it's mostly chips)comes to mind. If it has heavy meat/beans it works out ok, but of course it won't be as good as freshly served.

            A tip my friend taught me - if you are going to order a creamy dish - like an alfredo pasta - and plan to take 1/2 home to reheat, try requesting that the sauce be made w/o butter. Less chance of it separating when reheated.

            Some day maybe more restaurants will offer 1/2 portions so the need for all those take home containers will lessen. These days you have to ask - and very few places will agree to do it. Until then, I will enjoy my little take home presents to enjoy later. :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: debrolex

              Agree on the 1/2 portions.

              Maybe you could order a dish and just tell the server ahead time "why, don't you just serve me half of it now and bag up the rest for me to take home ..."

              Wonder what kind of looks one would get ...

              1. re: ipsedixit

                >>Maybe you could order a dish and just tell the server ahead time "why, don't you just serve me half of it now and bag up the rest for me to take home ..."<<

                This is actually a standard tip given at Weight Watchers -- when your food is served, split it in two portions, and ask for a take-away container before you even start eating.

                1. re: DanaB

                  Yes, an old WW person here. I always do it at an Italian place, cut in half and take the rest home. Although I have never asked for it to be boxed until I'm done.

            2. Is this a rhetorical question? LOL! ABSOLUTELY! Except, as you say, if I'm headed to an event. And I do so without shame. In fact, I've even been known to ask for other diners' leftovers. Twice a year I'm invited to join friends when they take out clients to top drawer NYC steakhouses. The clients are headed back to hotels and don't want to take their leftover steak or rib roast, and more importantly, the attached bones, with them. I say, pack it up. It's MINE!

              3 Replies
              1. re: JoanN

                Old thread, I know, but I just had to comment.

                That REALLY grosses me out!!!

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    *exceedingly tacky* for a business dinner, too...

                1. No. Almost never. I hate taking food home.

                  1. Always, and especially in hotels, as they'll send it up to the room! And a lot of times, I'll have them split the order and take half a cheesecake to go, cuz it's not like I'm gonna eat the whole thing right then!

                    Other foods, like pizza, are just made for taking out. Who doesn't like cold pizza?

                    But in Europe, the portions are much smaller and they just don't have the boxes and stuff to take things away. It's either use it, or lose it! Taking home your left-overs is just not done!


                    20 Replies
                    1. re: TexasToast

                      "Who doesn't like cold pizza?"

                      Me. I absolutely hate the look of the congealed cheese and flabby, soggy crust and will never, ever eat cold pizza. :-)

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        I'm with you Linda. (so you don't feel alone)

                        1. re: krissywats

                          Thanks for the support, krissywats. I know I'm among the tiniest minority when it comes to the non-enjoyment of cold pizza. :-)

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Add me to your group... I have always been a person who likes their hot food (and drink) "hot" and their cold food (and drink) "cold"... My husband laughs at what he calls my analness, he also considers my hot to be scaulding (including showers) LOL

                            1. re: Michele4466

                              Linda, I can't stand cold pizza -- and what's more, I have yet to find a way to reheat it that is acceptable. Microwave makes it soggy, toaster oven makes it burnt, oven makes it tough (whether on a pizza stone or not).

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                Me, too! It's hard to get uniform heating in a microwave, too, some hard cheese, some too melted and the edge gets tough.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  Heat it in a frying pan. I usually use a cast iron skillet, but will use non-stick on occasion. Use medium to medium high heat depending on your stove, and heat it until the ceese gets melty. It crisps the crust and doesn't dry it out.

                                  1. re: hsr

                                    I do the same, actually, I heat for one minute in the microwave then transfer to a skillet that has a bit of olive oil in it - this makes for a crispy crust (which I love).

                                    1. re: krissywats

                                      this is my excact method. sometimes making the pizza taste better than it did originally because im into crunch.
                                      with delivery pizza i almost always crisp it up in the toaster oven for a minute to bring back the crunch

                                      side note: i usually stick all the forks and knives underneath the slices so they dont get soggy.

                                  2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Well, I *have* reheated Bertucci's Silano pizza in a toaster oven at work and it's been OK, but even though I always wrap it lightly in foil, the crust still gets too crispy (for me). Microwaving pizza is just plain icky to me. :-)

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      DU, go to the Home Cooking Board, lots of suggestions

                                2. re: krissywats

                                  I'm surprised I'm the only one to be sort of in the middle -- cold pizza's all fine and good, but I usually heat it up anyway. Just has more flavor.

                                  1. re: krissywats

                                    Once upon a time Mr. DeeDee was a teenager, visiting friends, and they asked him if he'd like to stay for lunch, they were sending out for pizza. He said you betcha, the dad went out to pick up the hot, savory smelling wonderful steaming box of heaven - and then the mom put it in the fridge to get cold so it would be ready to eat.

                                    I do not think he has yet to recover from the trauma.

                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                    OMG, so many slices, so little time. Cold pizza is one of the few "college" foods that is still part of my normal culinary delights. I am so sad that others do not like but c'est la vie, more for me.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      And perhaps there's the issue - I didn't go to college - went to a day secretarial school (back in the dark ages of the late 70s), and so did not have the stay-up-all-night-and-cram-for-exams-with-cold-pizza-cravings. :-)

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        I did go to college in the early 90s and had my fair share of pizza deliveries and it's still gross to me....so no, I wouldn't say that's the issue, Linda.

                                        I felt absolutely righteous in my hatred of cold pizza (especially the left-out-for-hours variety) when my college biology prof showed us just how much bacteria grows over the course of 20 minutes on pizza. It has to do with the cheese. Perhaps we're just more atune to this grossness from birth? heehee

                                        Of course, none of this stops my husband from eating it.

                                        1. re: krissywats

                                          What won't kill him will only make him stronger. Cold pizza, that is. :-)

                                  3. re: TexasToast

                                    Your last sentance is right on for England, TT. A few years ago we were having dinner at a divine Indian restaurant in Gypsy Hill in South London, and had a bunch of leftovers which we requested to be bagged. My cousin's pseudo snobby wife was horrified and said, its just not done. Well we done it and the next day took our package of food on a train trip and had the most wonderful lunch.

                                    1. re: TexasToast

                                      In Europe, after those long tasting menu affairs, I always take the petit fours, chocolates, etc. home. I've got some of the most beautiful wrapping and boxes...sometimes they're better than the food.

                                      1. re: PBSF

                                        Well, you guys were lucky that the establishments HAD boxes for you to use. Most place don't.


                                    2. yes, but I rarely actually eat the leftovers after I bring them home. :P depending on what it is, I always end up tossing it or giving it to my dog

                                      1. I can't remember which restaurant in SF but I *think* it is La Folie that replenishes all the sides/accoutrements to full serving when you ask for something to be wrapped up. very nice!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: chaddict

                                          Seeing as how they're gonna throw them out anyway!


                                        2. there is one neighborhood restaurant i frequent that i know going in will be a doggie bag dinner, because i always order the same meal and know i cannot finish it and know that it tastes even better the next day.

                                          1. Almost never an issue for me, I rarely have anything to take home unless maybe a small bite is reserved for the dog. The only exceptions are the rare times we go out for pizza or chinese AND there happens to be anything left at the end of the meal - and I can't recall that happening in the last 5 years. I just order based on how hungry I am - more often then not I could eat more, not less, than what I get.

                                            1. I've made it a habit to doggie bag my left overs, then give to a homeless person off the freeway exit, or in the parking lot of my grocery store.
                                              I figure it's better than the brown bag inching to the back of my fridge and being forgotten.

                                              1. Absolutely, don't have to cook the next night
                                                I love when they shape the "doggie bag" like a swan :)

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Ooooh, I hate that. Not to rain on your parade or anything... but being a Home Cooking-type Chowhound, there's rarely room in EITHER of my refrigerators for something tall and wonky like a swan!

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                    saving the leftovers while crushing the swans neck...can be a small sacrifice, Das. My frig would find room for yummy eats! heheh

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      My friend said that when I made her a swan to take home after dinner at my place, and in two seconds her swan had been converted to a duck--squish.

                                                  2. I sometimes take things home. I don't generally end up eating them though. Once in a while I'll bring things home from work (ie., the restaurant) to be eaten immediately if I didn't get a chance during my shift. That *usually* gets eaten. Otherwise, I'm probably just going to find it in a week or two and go 'umm... I wonder what this is.' For that reason, when boxing things up for customers at work I usually write the date and contents on the container. The container then gets foil wrapped so it's not like they can see it at the time... but I figure it might be helpful for people like me.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: asiege2

                                                      A lot of places now automatically do that. They'll write down WHAT it is, AND the DATE you got it!


                                                      1. re: asiege2

                                                        You are a restaurant person indeed. For others, this stems from the restaurant's requirement (from the health dept.) of naming and dating everything you make and wrap. Poor labeling can cost points. After working in kitchens, I name and date everything in my own fridge, and when I send leftovers home with guests. And, of course, I have sharpies everywhere.

                                                      2. I do, yes. In fact I had leftovers from last night's dinner out for lunch today. At some point I know my husband and I will become the couple that splits meals and we'll drive our servers crazy. But he drinks and I get dessert so our bill will still be good.

                                                        I know I've told this story before but a friend of mine told me a great story about visiting Italy:

                                                        They were out to dinner with Italian friends and they were thinking about another bottle of wine. The Americans calculated who was going to have more and who wasn't and figured out that they wouldn't finish a whole bottle so nevermind, they just wouldn't order one. The Italians found this very amusing. One of them finally remarking, "Have what you want, there is no rule that says you have to finish it all, it's fine to leave some behind". The Americans were blown away by this idea - was sort of epiphinal for them.

                                                        I really think that here in the US we have passed on from generation to generation a sense of 'finish your food, clean your plate'. I think it started when this country was founded (very little food to go around) and was reinforced during the depression. I see depression era behaviors all the time from my mother's generation (we're not so removed from that). In the US we are very 'get all you can, consume all you can, hold on to all you can'.

                                                        Personally, I try to be aware of this societal behavior and remind myself that I do not, in fact, have to clean my plate or finish my food and that leftovers are perfectly acceptable.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: krissywats

                                                          Not sure where it came from but my husband (mid 30's) is one of them... he always says order another, eat or drink what you want... no worries. His mother's family were farmers in the mid west (I think from Eastern Europe and Russia) so I know he did not get it there... his father's family is Western European (though generations before) so perhaps...

                                                          I am also from the doggie bag crew... I like to eat an appetizer and some bread and butter, part of the enjoyment for me and I do get full fairly fast... we love the leftovers (my meal only LOL) the next day. I usually have a good amount of my main left so it would be silly not to take it.

                                                          1. re: Michele4466

                                                            In my family, it's actually the opposite. I don't know how my mom grew up, but with me it was always "You know, you don't have to finish it." Like I didn't remember when she told me the day before and the day before. It's now the running joke in the family.

                                                            You know... you don't have to finish it. Maybe I got used to eating more than i needed just to spite her for always saying that. But now I've changed my habits to the point where I do almost always have leftovers, and I really enjoy taking them home for the next day....

                                                        2. kriss..you gave me a good laugh
                                                          i'm def. a member of the clean plate club
                                                          i wouldn't dream of leaving 1/2 my meal anywhere
                                                          even if someone else finishes it!

                                                          1. I'll do it to avoid wasting food, but the leftovers never taste the same when reheated at home. I prefer it when restaurants serve reasonable portions that don't result in leftovers. Often, I'll order two appetizers rather than an appetizer and main course in order to arrive at a manageable quantity of food.

                                                            I remember hosting a series of meetings with visiting business associates from South Africa last year. It was their first trip to the U.S., and they were unaware of the doggie bag custom. For the first few days, they tried to clear their plates so as not to be rude. Only after being briefed on doggie bags were they able to relax and stop stuffing themselves.

                                                            There is one type of "doggybagging" that I think should be strongly encouraged: recorking of unfinished wine bottles. This practice is now legal in the majority of American states, and it seems a good idea since the practice may reduce the likelihood that someone will overindulge just to avoid wasting wine that may have been purchased at considerable markup. Knowing that one can take the leftover wine home to enjoy later seems an encouragement to drink in moderation.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: silverbear

                                                              While I've done this on home turf just fine, when traveling, I never get around to finishing the bottle, and one can't go from hotel to hotel with half-full bottles!


                                                            2. I absolutely doggie bag. I'm a big eater and like it or not, if I wouldn't be able to take it home, I'd finish it. I love having leftovers for lunch and it's an icentive for me NOT to finish the whole entree.

                                                              1. I'm an English teacher for a study abroad program in the Bay Area, and the term "doggie bag" never fails to generate giggles from my European and Asian students. However, they quickly learn to ask servers "to wrap things up" once they start gaining weight from attempting to consume the monster portions found in American restaurants.

                                                                1. I grew up eating leftovers and never got over it - in fact, a lot of my favorite foods are all the better for resting overnight and then getting reheated - so bagging is second nature to me, especially if there are piles of good bones and things to take along too. Of course there are some things that don't fare so well the second time around, mostly fried foods and dumpling-type things, and green salads are really a waste of clamshell space unless you're going to eat them almost immediately. Mrs. O has a smallish appetite at lunchtime (but excellent taste!), and so when she goes out to lunch with co-workers she often brings me back at least half of whatever it was.

                                                                  1. I often eat with biz friends (for conveniece sake) at Peter Lugers Steak House in Brooklyn. They have good and sometimes very good steaks and really fine bread. Since some of my friends would find taking home a Doggie bag tacky, I always tell the waiter-"Please wrap this in a doggie bag and put in lots of bread as my dog only eats sandwiches" - gets a laugh! I dont have a dog but I do get a great lunch the next day.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: drobbia

                                                                      Sometimes, the bread loaves, from places like Macaroni Grill for example, are great to take home. You can slice them up and make stuff the next day!


                                                                    2. I ALWAYS take my leftovers home! I paid for the meal, and I want to eat it.
                                                                      Although, it is not good etiquette to take home leftovers from nicer/higher class restaurants.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Tonsmel

                                                                        Says who? Are you saying the previous posters are all eating at lower-class restaurants? ;)

                                                                        1. re: writergirl

                                                                          While I do not agree, seeing as how I was taught proper food etiquette from the top...I am pretty sure that my statement is accurate.
                                                                          As for taking home leftovers after a business luncheon...Duhn, duhn, duhn! That should never be done! Unless of someone else superior to your position suggests it.

                                                                        2. re: Tonsmel

                                                                          I would like to say that I have taken leftovers home from Per Se, the offer having been suggested by one of the captains. I did not feel it was at all gauche--the offer or my accepting it. And I don't think you can get much higher class than that in the US. Pooh pooh on those "high class" restaurants that would treat me with less class.

                                                                          1. re: Tonsmel

                                                                            I have never heard of this and have no idea why this would be true. If I'm paying $50 for my entree and I eat half of it, you had better believe I'm gonna take the rest home. That's $25 worth of food, there!

                                                                          2. It is seldom when Jfood is not a member of the Clean Plate Club and I have leftovers. It may be because Mrs Jffod and I are very lucky that local restos are so great and the portions are single-serving manageable. We have no chains for miles around so we just don't do the chains where larger portions are the norm.

                                                                            There are times when I travel on biz that I will order a dessert to-go, but i do not think that qualifies as a doggie.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              It only qualifies if you take HALF of it to go, either up front, or after you've massacred it.


                                                                            2. Just wanted to comment on the two subtopics I found most interesting: reheating pizza and the American tendency to need to "finish it all":

                                                                              I've found that preheating the oven to 450, putting the slices of pizza on a plate on top of the stove (for me, this is a gas stove/oven combo, where the heat is always leaking out the top) during the preheating process to bring it to room temp, and then putting the slices right on the oven rack for about four minutes works like a charm...

                                                                              I'll never forget one time I went out to dinner with some co-workers -- I was right out of college in the employ of a large consulting company. We went to a rather expensive restaurant, and unlike other outings, this was not on the company/client's dime. I don't remember with any accuracy the quality of the food (I was young, and still impressed by anything that wasn't hot-pot ramen), but the average entree certainly pushed the $30 barrier. My manager, with no more than 40% of his order consumed, placed his utensils -- fork tines down -- on his plate. He looked at me and said -- and I will never forget this, because it seemed like an invitation to break free of 22 years of contradictory theory from my parents -- "The truest freedom is to be able to eat just half."

                                                                              That being said, I'm totally down with the DB.

                                                                              1. I started a little "pay it forward" tradition a few years ago. If I have a portion I just can't finish, I ask the waiter to package it to go, with a dinner roll & some take out utensils. I also purchase a coffee to go (or cup of soup) and then offer it to the first homeless guy or gal I pass on my way home.

                                                                                I've had a great meal and now someone else will have a great meal. (perhaps their only one for the day).

                                                                                Most of the time they really appreciate it. (sometimes they just yell at me as they would prefer money for booze... *shrug*)

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                  I see your point but... I do the same thing and many times, it does not matter what it is... I am a rather "clean" eater anyway and it usually is some sort of meat and side (I have done pasta too) but I believe the homeless would rather eat a meal than not. Unless of course it is that "I would prefer money or booze" type... I have seen my share of that as well. In reality, it is mostly great appreciation for the gesture.

                                                                                  1. re: Michele4466

                                                                                    I never used to do this, then I got used to the practice in Brazil. It was kind of crazy though... sometimes you'd be sitting in the restaurant (many of which have the outside wall completely open) and someone would come in and just ask if you were planning on finishing your meal. If not, they'd just grab the food off the plate. I liked being able to help out a bit, but that always felt a little odd.

                                                                                    The practice made me a lot more aware of the fact that I don't see a lot of homeless people in Chicago when I'm out. I think there's been a shift of where the homeless are hanging out... I'm also a lot more careful about stretching my money as well as not eating as much.

                                                                                    1. re: annimal

                                                                                      My friend told me that at her restaurant they would ask customers not to give people food outside the restaurant because it encouraged the homeless to loiter and then bother other patrons because they would start to expect it. This was at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

                                                                                2. If something was worth carrying home and I happen not to finish it, I may, if it's not too much trouble. In general, I try to avoid ordering more than I'm hungry for anyway, so it really doesn't come up much. I never intentionally over-order planning to take leftovers home.

                                                                                  1. i am an enormous doggy bagger. i come from a long illustrious line of doggy baggers...

                                                                                    i always get doggy bags, particularly with non european family style foods because ill go out with a few friends and we'll order tons of food cuz we drove a half an hour and want to try everything and they never want leftovers, unless im with other asians, then we split it. (i love eating with white people cuz i end up with more food to take home har har har!)

                                                                                    long story short: my fridge is full of international goodies.

                                                                                    i go out to eat a lot, and i usually have difficulty keeping up with my multiple leftovers. but one of my favorite things is to have an international meal that consists of multiple leftovers from multiple continents. a small portion of mashed potatoes and blood sausage from angelini osteria, some bun cha hanoi from nga trang, perhaps some spicy pigs ears from best szechuan and then i reheat a daikon turnip cake in the pan and make it extra crispy. this is the best!

                                                                                    and then the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment when i finally finish all the leftovers is one of those simple joys that perhaps only i, being a weirdo, experiences....

                                                                                    1. I already stated above that I am wholeheartedly in the Doggie Bag camp - but I thought I'd share a funny story since it is relevant.

                                                                                      When I was in college, my BF took me out to a very nice restaurant to celebrate our anniversary. We placed our orders and were enjoying the amazing bread and thought about why it was we never had desserts out...obviously because we were always too full. On a whim, he asked the waiter to have our main dishes bagged to go and to bring fancy desserts instead.

                                                                                      The chef actually came out from the kitchen clearly flustered and concerned that we were not happy. We quickly reassured him that his food was amazing and that we planned to savour all of it in a very romantic setting later...but could we please be a little spontaneous tonight? It was a special day for us. He not only wrapped up our entire entree impeccably, but added a rose.

                                                                                      I did learn to not rock the boat again...lest I upset or insult the chef...but I still remember that dinner all these years later because of it. I think in the end, the chef appreciated being a part of our romantic evening.

                                                                                      1. I always thought the origin of a "doggie bag" was to have meat bones from a restaurant meal or a butcher wrapped unfancily in butcher paper and put into a bag for ease of carrying home. The idea of contents of a doggie bag being suitable for human consumption was absurd to me as a child, and I just figured people were asking for food for their dogs when asking for a doggie bag.

                                                                                        If I wanted leftovers wrapped to be taken home, I was taught to ask for a box, or to have my food packaged to go.

                                                                                        1. I absolutely hate leftovers whether from a restaurant or home cooked meals. I usually give leftovers to someone I'm dining with. Hey... we all carry baggage from our childhoods. My mom was the queen of leftovers...blech.

                                                                                          1. To me, eating a meal in a restaurant is about the "here and now". It is meant to be enjoyed when prepared, not the next day. I will not ask for a "doggy bag" or accept the offer of one and I consider it gross conduct for adults to do so. On the other hand I will eat what is put before me, if it tastes good, and won't stop until it's finished. So if you serve me a huge pile of food I'm in trouble, therefor I don't order huge piles of food and try not to pig out on the bread and salad.

                                                                                            As far as I'm concerned, "What happens in the restaurant stays in the restaurant!"

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Brian W

                                                                                              "I consider it gross conduct for adults to do so"

                                                                                              A bit harsh and judgmental, doncha think?

                                                                                              If you do not want to take home leftovers, fine, but there are plenty of people who do and it is perfectly acceptable behavior.

                                                                                              1. re: Brian W

                                                                                                You force yourself to eat it all even if you are stuffed? Oh THAT is SO less gross than taking the food home. I suppose if you found yourself in "trouble" from over ordering or say... a victim of a set menu the only proper conduct would be to head for the toilet and... make room.

                                                                                                I cannot stop laughing.

                                                                                              2. no,

                                                                                                if the food was good, I finish every bite, If the food was poor, why would I want it a second time, and as a left over.

                                                                                                1. I exited the Clean Plate Club the day a friend said "You know, that is going to waste whether you eat it or not."

                                                                                                  Nevertheless, my deeply ingrained aversion to wasting food remains. Of course I doggy bag.

                                                                                                  1. I would in theory, but not at a fine dining establishment.

                                                                                                    I say "in theory" because I have a superhuman ability to finish virtually everything put in front of me, including the bread basket. And I ALWAYS order dessert.

                                                                                                    I plan to change my ways in the next few years, as I suspect my metabolism is going to hit a brick wall.

                                                                                                    1. If the chow is good and served in the usual supersized portions one finds in the U.S.A., I always doggie bag it, fine restaurant or not- with the one exception being that if that I am on a business dinner, I won't doggie bag it lest I offend someone.

                                                                                                      One of the things I love about Japan is that generally you get good fresh food in non-supersized portions. That may be a start at explaining the difference in obesity rates between the two countries.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: omotosando

                                                                                                        "I won't doggie bag it lest I offend someone"

                                                                                                        Hm, I find this interesting... I'd be more offended by someone wasting a goodly portion of food and money! However, I'm not a "business dinner" kinda chick, so I'm probably not the one to go by!


                                                                                                      2. We almost always have the uneatens boxed up, especially given the Holy Cow! sized portions in American restaurants. My teeth grind, however, when having been asked if I want something boxed, the waiter returns with a foam shell, plops it on the table and walks off. Really, is it so hard to remove the plates to the kitchen and box up the leftovers there? Memo to restaurateurs and waitstaff: most people would appreciate that extra bit of service. Scraping leftovers is not the perfect way to finish a nice meal out. By the way, this isn't just in the local hole-in-the-wall, but in "nice places" where the bill has been over $100.00. If an establishment offers this (take home leftovers) service, I think it is less than professional to have the customer step up to dish-scraping duty.

                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                          Here in New Mexico, there's a law that you have to package it yourself at your table. I guess for sanitary reasons? Not sure. Anyway, I wonder if you're running into that, perhaps.

                                                                                                          1. re: juster

                                                                                                            Hmmmm...maybe they could have tableside DB service - you know, like tableside tossed Caesar, but on the tail end? Watch the server box your meal, knowing you're not ending up with a lap full of moo shu or prime rib, and knowing you might not be polluting the kitchen with your leftovers.

                                                                                                          2. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                            EWWWWWWWWW!!! I totally have to disagree!! I really hate it when a server takes my plate and returns with a box that supposedly has my leftovers in it!! I'm sure all is on the up and up, but I have this "thing" about other people touching my food - I'd much rather pack it up to go myself!!

                                                                                                            1. re: BabyBee

                                                                                                              What about the people who plate your food, and who bring it to you in the first place? Or is it only after you've started eating that you dont' want them near it?

                                                                                                              1. re: Covert Ops

                                                                                                                LOL ;-) Ya know - for some reason I tend to think the food comes out of the kitchen fresh, hot and delicious! I would be reluctant to send something back to the kitchen - I've heard too many stories about what happens when the chef feels he/she has been criticized!

                                                                                                                I don't know what my problem is!! My husband laughs at me, and I never make a fuss ... it's just one of those things!

                                                                                                                But ... I DO doggie bag - and rarely do my leftovers make it through the night ;-) Just something that briefly crosses my mind as "gross" .... but doesn't slow me down!

                                                                                                                1. re: BabyBee

                                                                                                                  Coming from the chef's point-of-view - Chefs general want to know that their food is being enjoyed, and if it isn't, they would generally love to fix it for you.
                                                                                                                  Not all chefs are like the degenerates in the moving, "Waiting."

                                                                                                          3. Always. Portions are usually of such ridiculous sizes and as a former WW member I learned to assess what constitutes a portion. Most times I just can't bring myself to totally clear my plate, nor can my husband.

                                                                                                            We've done this on vacation as well. When we stay in Las Vegas we always ask for a refrigerator in the room. Every time we visit Delmonico for dinner, we bring 1/2 our filet mignons back to the room, grab a couple of rolls from the basket, along with the left over truffled garlic parmesean chips. Let me tell you, makes some mighty fine cold sandwiches the next day - and the chips aren't half bad chilly too :-)

                                                                                                            1. I believe that it is socially acceptable for typical folks to "doggy bag" it. However, I believe that it is unacceptable for celebs to doggy bag it. I finished dinner at Lola's in Oaks Bluff about 5 years ago and saw Spike Lee in the parking lot holding a white hinged styrofoam takeaway. It just didn't look right particularly when he got into what must have been an $85,000.00 Mercedes wagon.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                Why do you think it's wrong for rich people to doggy bag? Are you saying that "regular" folk do it because we're cheap?

                                                                                                                Sometimes I'm not hungry/filled up on bread/in a hurry, whatever. But if I enjoyed the food, I'll take it home and bring it to lunch at work tomorrow. It's much nicer to finish my steak while my coworkers drool from behind their frozen entrees or unidentifiables foraged from the vending machine. . .I don't do it from a "waste" perspective -- I do it because I wanted to eat the food (that's why I ordered it!), just on my own time.

                                                                                                                1. re: Covert Ops

                                                                                                                  What can I tell ya' Covert Ops, it just didn't look right to me. And it's not that regular folk are cheap. Maybe you're right and he (Spike Lee) just wanted to finish something that he thought was absolutely delicious and just couldn't leave behind. (but it just didn't look right)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                    That makes absolutely no sense. Are celebs not human with normal wants and preferences?

                                                                                                                2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                  Jamie Lee Curtis ate at my restaurant while filming "True Lies". She took food back to her children in ugly styrofoam boxes. Others in her party boxed up desserts. She did not look the least embarrassed or bothered to be taking food out of the restaurant. Hate to break it to you, but they like to take away too. How funny to think people in nice cars are required to leave their food at the restaurant. Thanks for the chuckle.

                                                                                                                3. I didn't read the article, although we do get the WSJ. So, please do tell - what IS the difference between Americans and Europeans re: this article?

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: niki rothman

                                                                                                                    Euros do not doggie-bag.

                                                                                                                    Gringos do.

                                                                                                                    Has to do with portion size on this side of the Atlantic.

                                                                                                                  2. I always take doggie bags--even when I've got plans after. Here's why: I'm from a major city, and there are always homeless people outside restaurants. I usually give them the left overs (nothing gross like a burger that has a huge bite out of it!!) along with some plastic utensils I ask the waiter for.

                                                                                                                    Unless it's one of my favorites...then I usually keep it for lunch the next day. :)

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Toolchick101

                                                                                                                      I do the same thing... I tend to forget about the leftovers that find their way to my fridge. But there are plenty of homeless people who probably appreciate good food that's been boxed up. If you feel uncomfortable about handing your leftovers directly to someone (or can't find anyone), you can always leave the box somewhere it'll easily be found, on a window ledge, on a bench or at a bus stop.

                                                                                                                    2. of course i do. there's no reason not to.

                                                                                                                      the folks who say they finish everything if it's good are either enormous or never order an extra appetizer or dessert just to try it. leftover volume is directly proportional to the desire for variety. and a lot of us like variety.

                                                                                                                      those who say it's never as good the next day are just wrong. sometimes it's even better, particularly with things that can be made crisper (daikon cake, pizza). certain meats, when re grilled, are also excellent. other things can be beneficially embellished at home to suit your tastes.

                                                                                                                      whatever rationalization they come up with is frankly immaterial. their psychological rigidity is the only problem.

                                                                                                                      1. I love this thread!

                                                                                                                        Regarding specifically the plopping of the box, I more often than not will ask the server to box it for me, explaining that I have an alarming knack for dumping the plate into my lap. It's embarrassing, but too true.


                                                                                                                        1. I really love salad and so usually by the time my meal comes, I'm only able to eat 1/2 of it because I've filled up on the salad, bread and wine! So if there's enough to make another meal out of it, I always take it home. The only bummer is that the sauce that usually accompanies the entree (I generally order fish or pasta w/a cream sauce) gets thinned out and/or oily and so the entree doesn't taste as good as the first time around.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: lilyalli

                                                                                                                            Lilyalli, I had the same issue - cream sauces that broke when reheated in the micro. My friend taught me to ask for 'no butter' or 'very little butter' when ordering a cream sauce - it has less chance of separating upon the reheat. He was right!

                                                                                                                            Also, in reference to the waiter/waitress boxing up left-overs, I was very impressed at of all places, a chain restaurant (LeeRoy Selmon's - steak restaurant in Tampa). Yes, the waiter brought the infamous styrofoam box...but had already placed inside a small sealed tub of the same BBQ sauce we had requested for our ribs AND a sealed cup of the beans. As my SO was placing the ribs in the box, he also produced two fresh sodas in to-go cups and handed us straws, napkins & plastic-ware with the 'to-go' bag. THAT is an example of customer service. We remarked to him that that was definitely the BEST service we had ever encountered with boxing up leftovers and he replied that he used to work their take-out side, so it was second nature to him. He got a very nice tip that meal. My lunch for the next day was already packed! We have returned several times because of this service - even though it is farther away than several other good restaurants. We may never get him as our waiter again - but his service has made a lasting impression of LeeRoy Selmon's as a restaurant...and now you all know about it too! :) Dont'cha love it when GOOD NEWS travels? Bag on my friends! Bag on!

                                                                                                                          2. I always doggie bag when there's food left over, which is most of the time. I've also been known to take off with the remains of the bread basket (they'll throw it out otherwise).

                                                                                                                            Part of it is because food portions are huge and I don't like waste; part of it is because I'm poor and I want to make the most of my money.

                                                                                                                            I won't take home a few bites of food, something that's no longer appetizing (congealing poutine, for example) or something that won't keep (ie, ice cream).

                                                                                                                            Also, as a student, I feel it's my prerogative to take home all the doggie bags from communal family meals. :-)

                                                                                                                            1. Re: portion size... I recently picked up some vintage (1940s) dishes and I was surprised about the size of the dinner plates. I really thought a 9-inch plate was pretty normal, but turns out it feels miniscule in comparison to the big white restaurant plates we got used to. Now I like it, because I think it'll help me manage portion sizes. And it just looks so dainty and elegant, I like it!

                                                                                                                              1. In my experience, top-tier restaurants do not serve up super-size portions, and I never feel the need to doggie-bag. Mid-level and below, however, the portions are ridiculous. If I have half an order of something that will reheat well, for sure I'm taking it home.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                  You're absolutely right, in fact oversized portions have become a clear cut signal that a restaurant experience is going to be gross. For quite some time, ethnic restaurants were the notable exception to this trend; I think they had to offer an especially good value to lure in American customers. But I'm begining to notice that some of our favorite ethnic joints are begining to serve more reasonable portions.

                                                                                                                                2. I love to "doggie bag." Usually, there is enough to make another meal or so out of. I do it when travelling to because they make great midnight snacks or a really cheap breakfast the next day. Sometimes, leftovers taste better the next day.

                                                                                                                                  1. We generally end up taking something home--usually part of my meal--and then my husband finishes it later, in the middle of the night, or the next day. (I'm not a big fan of leftovers.) We do this unless we are staying in a hotel or won't be going home for awhile after we eat.

                                                                                                                                    This we learned the hard way: one time we ate at this really nice Mexican place next to the movie theater. It was a warmish spring day, and we put the leftovers of our enchilada plates in the trunk of the car while we went to the movie. At home we took them out, then later Mike had them for a bedtime snack--and about halfway through the night woke up sick. (I told him saving the leftovers on that particular day was a bad idea, but he scoffed at me.)

                                                                                                                                    1. Hardly ever! The food never tastes good again when it's been reheated, and doggie bag contents are more likely to turn green and moldy in my fridge than to be eaten.

                                                                                                                                      Having said that, when we've come from a restaurant in Center City, I do sometimes have leftovers wrapped, but I generally hand them to the first homeless street person I see.

                                                                                                                                      1. I usually wrap it up even if I don't like it. Someone at my house will eat it for sure. My family never didn't take their food home. Only if we're not going home for a long time afterward will we not get it wrapped up.

                                                                                                                                        1. I do. And sometimes my dogs even get the food! i've only been refused once, I was at the restaurant in Neiman-Marcus in Miami. My mom and I loved their popovers but she couldn't finish hers. When we asked we were told no in no uncertain terms. I was mad and I left the restaurant to pace around and cool down before I said something I'd regret. A manager saw my unhappy look and asked what was the matter. When I asked her if they packed up left overs in the restaurant she looked horrified and exclaimed "Never!" Guess that place was too ritzy for us but boy were those popevers good!

                                                                                                                                          1. My only beef is with the term. I think we stopped referring to it as doggie bag about 20 years ago. In the vast majority of the cases it's not for the dog, and hey I can't remember the last time it was a bag either, unless it was put in a bag after it was first put into a container of some kind. So please, let this ridiculous term die in favor of a better description. If I actually heard someone use that term these days I would cringe. I think "A *what*?" would be a reasonable retort from the server, although most would probably be more professional than that. ;-)

                                                                                                                                            To answer the question, though, very rarely do I end up with leftovers. I think I just don't eat at the places with crazy portions anymore. I may not finish the main dish, but the remaining amount would be typically too small to bother with taking home.