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Do you also cook too much?

Ok, I must be paranoid. Whenever I invite people over I always make too much food. Heck, we eat leftovers for 3 days sometimes or I end up freezing some stuff !
I will give you today's example- I am making dinner tonight for 3 of us plus 3 guests. I will serve 3lbs of pasta with a ton of cream/sausage sauce, a big dish of eggplant parmesan, a bowl of a salad ( a wonderful Martha Stewart inspired salad with pumpkin seed vinegrette and sauteed red onions), roasted and then marinated red peppers, garlic crostinis and a variety of olives.
Now that I look at the amount of food, I start thinking I am crazy. But I also know, I will make too much next time I have somebody over. Does anybody out there have a same problem?

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  1. It was hard for me to adjust. I grew up in a big family. The pasta thing is really hard to get over. I grew up in a home where everyone ate large bowls of it, so the usual box recommendations were never enough. Now that I cook for my family, it's hard to remember that a half pound of uncooked pasta, plus meats and other courses, are more than enough for three. We don't like leftovers, so I have forced myself to judge better. For four people, one pound is quite enough if there are meats and eggplant, trust me. For six, I would splurge and do two pounds, but you can probably get by with less. Three pounds is way over the top -- my grandma would make three pounds for Sunday dinner when there were fifteen of us -- again, because there were plenty of meats and other course. And there were still leftovers.

    I ate at one of Mario Batali's restaurants and enjoyed everything -- but it was a revelation. First courses were salumi and cod, there were roast beets with pistachios, and tiny portions of fish and meat -- smaller than a deck of cards. I was stuffed. Every course was really tiny, but there were something like six of them. That is the trick. If there are lots of courses, you can cut back. If someone doesn't eat the eggplant, there are still plenty of other things to eat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGC1982

      I always make way too much food, my whole family does it, and alot of people where i'm from do that too. Even when i have one friend over i make a big bowl of salad to go with the main dish....and I bake, so if i have one or two friends over, i've got a lot of cake at the end of the evening. !! I'm REALLY bad with pasta...i make enough to sink a ship when i do it for friends. Like you, i add some kind of appetizer or two, bread, salad and dessert. No one leaves my house hungry, lol.

      Co-workers are often happy....as i usually bring "special meal" aka really rich leftovers into work and let them have at it .

      But, i don't cook for myself this way, and when i make something that's a big recipe, like a pot of soup or what not, i freeze what i can.

      1. re: RGC1982

        1/2 lb of pasta for 4 people? They must not have any Italian blood in them.

      2. Yes, yes, and yes. I have adjusted my pasta portions -- i.e. for a lb. of pasta, there'd have to be 4 people, especially since you're not having the pasta by itself.

        No, with me there's almost always a huge bowl of salad, of which my man eats about a fifth, and the rest I *have* to finish.

        Somehow, both of us always end up cooking WAY more than necessary for two, and we're not friends of leftovers either...

        Tonight for the first time I made calamari. I figured I'd get a pound for the both of us, and when I had cut the tubes up and stuff, it didn't look like a lot, so my man made fries (along with a very large bowl of salad, of course). Well, the calamari seem to have expanded quite a bit, because we have at least a quarter lb. left, and we are stuffed. Not only do I feel uncomfortably full at the moment, but calamari are also not great reheated...

        1. I'm the same way. I cook way too much, but everyone gets plenty of whatever they like.

          1. In my family there was always, always, too much food. Better too much than too little. But that's not always necessary for two people. Last night I decided to try to make tempura, my first time. I only made a couple dozen shrimps, but I had a whole sweet potato, a whole onion plus almost half of another one, a couple stalks of broccoli, and three carrots. We ate hearty, but only ate a little more than half the veggies (polished off all the shrimps, though).

            1. I agree with revsharkie, too much is better than too little. The few times we have had not enough food, it has been traumatizing.

              You do what you learn. Korean food is best made in large batches because it is so labour intensive. And Korean dinners consist or multiple side dishes. You can't just make a meat dish and a veggie side. So any Korean meal involves large amounts of food, and many different dishes. You are guaranteed to have leftovers. Fortunately, unlike pasta, Korean dishes tend to make very good leftovers. In fact, the banchan (side dishes) are made in quantities to ensure multiple meals worth of food because you would not want to remake each banchan at every meal.

              I wish I could say I only made too much Korean, but no, I make too much food period, regardless of cuisine. I think we are all crazy! But it is a pretty common problem!

              1. I grew up in a Greek family and learned to cook for an army. Always.

                It took a long time to unlearn this but I finally have. I made myself as I dont' like leftovers much and a lot of food was being wasted as it'd get tossed after it sat in the fridge or freezer. I bought some cookware and casseroles dishes sized just right for two people as well as a lot of individual pieces and that's helped...now if we're having enchiladas I use two individual dishes instead of making a big 9x13 or larger tray of them.

                Pasta was a tough one for us as we love it....I made myself weigh out the portions according to the box for a while to get a handle on a smaller amount....and we stopped eating just pasta by itself and now always have a salad or veggie alongside.

                I've gotten better when we have people over too....we used to have so much leftover even from a simple dinner party...I've started cutting way back on what I serve - less dishes. Also smaller portions...I have yet to run out and not have enough. By the time you give people a few pre dinner snacks with cocktails, a salad, an entree a couple sides and a dessert...I find people really don't eat that much of each thing you offer but never go away hungry.

                1. my mum always says, if there is nothing leftover then she didn't make enough!!

                  1. I have the disease too! Was a huge problem when I was single - just couldn't eat enough to keep up with my desire to cook. I did start to shift to dishes which were more portioned, like a chop or a fish fillet, rather than a stew. I love & plan uses for my leftovers & the freezer is my friend, but often my cooking still overwhelms. So I feed lots of people! I grew up in a family of 6 & there were always leftovers. Cooking for one or two has actually been my toughest challenge in the culinary area!

                    1. I almost compulsively overcook. I really do get traumatized if I run out of food, I feel as though I've failed on a fundamental level. My youngest daughter lives near by and doesn't like to cook, so I give her our leftovers and from time to time she brings back my food storage containers. Her husband thanks me for it and he likes to eat a LOT. So it works out.

                      1. I often deliberately make more of something, but I rarely have leftovers that I haven't planned for. As I'm usually just cooking for the two of us, I'll often make 4 portions of something, with a view to freezing half of it, or taking it for my lunch in the following days. If we're having pasta & sauce (or any carb, for that matter), I'll make the sauce to provide 2 portions + leftovers, but I'll weigh out the carb component, and make that fresh next time. It's partly because I don't want to eat too much, and partly because I want to stick to my budget, and wasting food really sticks in my gut! I agree that it's better to have too much than too little, but I think the abundance and variety of cheap food has conspired with losing the understanding of what a "proper" portion size is to result in increasing levels of food waste and obesity/health issues, and that really worries me.

                        1. In my family there are always lots of leftovers at the end of family get-togethers and I find I carry on the habit when I cook for myself or when I have guests. Whenever I have guests for dinner, I make at least 2 entrees and the appropriate side dishes plus apps and sweets. I plan it that way though, I love left-overs!
                          I am single and I cook a nice meal on Sat and Sun and then feast on the leftovers during the week and don't have to worry about cooking when I get home from work.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: NE_Elaine

                            same goes for me.....but i love to cook so if i get the urge during the week to cook, lots goes in the freezer. Certain leftovers i can not leave in the house, because i can't resist them and will eat for lunch and dinner til it's gone !! I find i want to cook a lot during the cool fall and winter months...not so much in the summer. I seem to have an instinctual urge to cook large batches of soups etc this time of year and fill my freezer !

                            1. re: im_nomad

                              I love cooking year round - I just change the menu. In the summer it is grilled/rotisserie meats and side dishes from the veggie garden and in the winter it is braises and stews - and of course, soup.
                              I just bought the ingredients for caldo verde to make this weekend. I also bought a can of lentil soup as I have seen quite a few posts with recipes and of course there are health benefits to lentils. I liked it, so now I am on the quest for lentil soup recipes.

                          2. what about dessert? lol !!! Growing up my parents entertained at least twice a week, b/w work and politics. Anyhow, before every event my mom would inevitably say, "I hope I have enough food." That is a joke in our family lo these many years and we always have WAY too much. We are actually having a party for 60 tonight (we have plenty on the menu) but in the back of my mind I am wondering. . ."I hope we have enough food!" It is a constant fight.

                            1. I don't think there is any such thing as too much food (if it's good!)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bnemes3343

                                Exactly - like having leftovers in the fridge or freezer is a bad thing? I love leftovers and hate meals that don't provide them, particularly if I'm putting in a fair amount of effort (as I would for company).

                              2. I always tell our kids and guests to bring their refrigerator containers so that they can take leftovers home. Love to cook and love to share the results.
                                In our neighborhood in Mexico, the neighbors call DH "Meals on Wheels" because when I cook too much, he takes the excess to the neighbors.

                                1. I had a barbeque over the summer. I made hot dogs, hambugers and chicken (plus salad, sides, corn and dessert) but not only could I not stand the thought of running out of food, I couldn't stand the thought of not having enough of a particular protien (like what if someone wanted a hambuger and there plenty of other things left but no burgers?). So to start with I had three times as much as I should and then of course my estimates of what there "Should" be were over. I begged people to take more leftovers but I was eating tihs for a long time,...

                                  1. I come from a culture where you should offer plenty of food to your guests; if the table is NOT groaning with food, there is something hugely wrong ;o) Mr. S always has to remind me not to cook/offer too much food.

                                    We don't mind leftovers as where we work there is little opportunity for buying lunches where we work, and sometimes our workdays stretch into long hours so it's nice to come home to something you only have to heat up -- and enjoy all over again :o)

                                    1. We wouldn't survive without leftovers. Neither of us gets a real lunch break, so we have to bring our own almost every day. And it's usually more than just lunch, since we often work 10 hour days and need to have snacks too. So when we cook pasta, it's usually the whole box. Most of it goes in the fridge with some olive oil and we add veggies/sauce when we pack for the day.

                                      1. This makes me smile and think of the time that my grandmother made dinner one night and we only had 2 meatballs and some of the ziti leftover after a dinner with guests. "next time we should make more"....

                                        1. Try making a tiny cassoulet, or choucroute garni for two! I guess you could, but the leftovers are better than the original, and they keep improving as long as they last (besides, anything less than three kinds of meats in either of these is boring, and I can't bring myself to ask for "One Polish, one bratwurst, and a quarter-pound of slab bacon, please." Seems so cheap...). Bean dishes in general are hard to make small portions of, and every time I've made a pot of gumbo it gets completely out of hand as well. I have gotten pretty good at downsizing more "normal" meals, the ones with one meat, one starch and one or two veges, though roasting or braising less than two pounds of anything is a waste of time and fuel. Besides, I'm a sort of househusband, and I love having leftovers in the fridge for lunch.

                                          1. I'll admit to making too much. Heck, right now I have a whole roasted turkey in the fridge that I made for 2 people. Ok I know I can use it to make stock and the leftovers are going to be great but still: why did I have a whole turkey to begin with? I have almost no ability to judge actual consumption of food by others.

                                            Oh and worst of all I can't claim being from a large family, and neither can my DH who is an only child. So we eat leftovers, and then throw out what we can't eat anymore.

                                            I have been known to send things home with guests, I have also been sent home with things from other peoples dinner parties.

                                            I guess as long as not too much food is wasted, cooking too much isn't such a bad thing.

                                            Oh and one suggestion: "Cooking for Two" by Weinstein & Scarbrough for those of you cooking for yourself and perhaps one more. It has lots of great foods adjusted to make about 3 servings.My favorite is the Seared Duck Breast with Fig and Honey.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: bubblet4me

                                              *raises hand* Guilty on making a turkey for two!

                                              With the leftovers, we make turkey wraps -- using a large flour tortilla, wrap up leftover sliced turkey, a bit of dressing, bit of mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce, then roll it up like a burrito (make sure the ends are closed in). Wrap securely with foil and freeze. When you feel like a hot turkey sandwich, bake a wrap until hot, and yuuuum!! Great for a quick meal or heating up in the microwave at work.

                                              Also I freeze the meat for later on to make turkey pot pie; I think turkey is one of my fave meats, I love it.

                                              1. re: sweeterpea

                                                So I have made turkey wraps but I was wondering what temp you warm them on. I also have since roasting the turkey made quesadillas, a bacon turkey quiche and cat food. That last one was more of a reaction to how much meat turned up in my turkey stock. I just couldn't waste all those little bits and they won't work in the recipies I will be using the stock for. And the cat loves it.

                                                1. re: bubblet4me

                                                  I put them in the oven at 350, maybe for about 20 min to a half hour? Depends on how frozen they are.

                                            2. I always make FAR too much food when I have guests over. As a good hostess, I would DIE if we ran out of anything. In addition to too much of a particular dish (guilty), I also tend to make way too many dishes - like 5 appetizers and 6 side dishes. But I love having leftovers, so it's usually not a problem. Then I get to eat "refrigerator tapas." (That's when you stand in front of your fridge with a fork or spoon and just take a "taste" from each of the leftover containters :-)

                                              1. So good to hear, that I am not the only one! I guess my biggest nightmare is to run out of food and wine while having guests over...never happened, of course....I guess I am just paranoid. And I used to have these friends who would grill 5 pieces of chicken for 6 guests and said "go ahead, enjoy", while everybody at the table would look at each other and didn't know what to do...Some people just don't care about food much, from what I can see and these are people who cook just enough to go around. And then there are people like us who overdo it :))))))

                                                1. Still cooking for a family of five, like I did while growing up. It's worse when I have guests because I'll just increase the amount of food when five is more than plenty to begin with! It haunted my poverty-stricken university years, which wasn't so bad, but I live alone with a small fridge and cowboy tastebuds... Everyone goes home with food, though, and my neighbors love me.

                                                  1. Single guy. On Saturday I bought a crock pot on impulse, and on Sunday I used it to make an enormous pot of chili. Way, way too much chili. I ate chili for dinner Sunday. And lunch Monday. Monday night I went to a casual party at a friend's house (where they served tacos-- ack!). Tuesday lunch, chili. Tuesday dinner, ditto. At that point I gave up and froze the rest of it.

                                                    I really need to learn to adjust quantities.

                                                    1. I always do this. When expecting company, I plan the menu. Then I realize there are several dishes I also want to make, so I make those too. But I don't take anything away from the original menu.

                                                      We had a Christmas dessert party and the amount of food I prepared was truly ridiculous. That said, it all got eaten that night, taken to work, etc later, or frozen, so I guess it's all good.

                                                      1. I always make too much food, whether I'm having company or not. I'm not quite sure how it happens. I once made gumbo from a recipe for 16 servings - that seemed like too much even for freezing the leftovers so I halved it, and somehow ended up with a good 14 or 15 servings anyway. I swear, it's like the loaves and fishes. And when I have a party I'm guaranteed to be eating the leftovers for a week afterwards.

                                                        1. I tend to cook too much, but its always better to have too much than not enough.

                                                          1. I am sure that we all do this!!! I try to gauge quantities by who is coming over. I have a few eaters who just nibble and then a few who just inhale and never get full. I like leftovers though because I usually don't get a chance to sit down and enjoy myself until everyone is gone!

                                                            1. do it every time i entertain, i get a little carried away with elaborate menus. my guests - especially the single guys - always love me for it because no one goes home empty-handed.

                                                              thanksgiving is the most excessive - i tend to go ridiculously overboard.