Antique Junk Drawer

No Go On To-Go

Last Friday I had lunch with some friends at a Mexican restaurant. I ordered the spinach quesadillas and they were delicious, but I could only eat about half of them, so I had the waiter box up the rest to take home.

Today, around lunch time, it occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten those spinach quesadillas.  So I worked the inside of our overburdened fridge like one of those slide puzzles looking for those quesadillas.  But they were not to be found.

“That’s weird,” I thought. “I distinctly remember leaving the restaurant with them and putting them in the….”

Crud!  Crud!  Crud on a cracker crud!

They were still in the car.  So I went out to the garage and there they were.  Under the driver’s seat.  Oddly enough my car did not smell any worse than usual.  It could be that the smell of rotting spinach quesadillas is actually a step up from how my car normally smells.

But it begs the question, why do I even bother with the restaurant leftovers?  Is it hope or delusion that I ask for the to-go box?  Because I always fully believe that I will actually consume said left overs.  Even though I never do.

Because Sr. Edwina never let me forget that poor children in China were starving when I was in the 2nd grade, I am psychologically obligated 40 years later to make the waiter box up food I won’t eat so that I can throw it away a week later, that is if I can find it, because by cracky, I paid for that food and I am going to be the one to throw it away to alleviate world hunger.   That actually made sense in my head. It’s complicated in there and the circuitry is circuitous.

Now of course there is no real way to prove this without putting GPS on to-go boxes, but because this is a blog, I shall state it with some authority anyway,  as though it were fact:  99.9% of the leftovers taken from a restaurant never make it off restaurant property.  80% of to-go boxes are left on the table, 10% end up on the vanity in the ladies room and 5% end up in the parking lot after being placed on the roof of the car.

What happens to the remaining 5% is anyone’s guess, but you might check under the driver’s seat of your car.

43 thoughts on “No Go On To-Go

  1. Our to-go boxes actually make it out of the restaurants, out of the parking lots and even out of the car. They take up temporary residency on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator beside the 2 prom corsages that my sophmore-in-college daughter thinks we still need to save. Weeks later, when there is no room for such frivolous purchases as milk and eggs, it becomes time, once again, to clean out the fridge. And there’s the box, patiently waiting to go to it’s permanent home in the landfill.

  2. i usually don’t have them box my left overs on the premise that I may blow the diet once while out but would never (oops my nose is growing) do so at home. 🙂

    And because my car has actually smelled like spinach quesadillas before. Not as nasty as when someone ahem…farts in the car, but still bad.

  3. Ain’t it the truth! I don’t usually bother with leftover boxes because I know I won’t end up eating them (for some reason, the restaurant food that tastes so much better than my own the first time doesn’t hold up for round 2 at all).

    I do like when DH takes his leftovers though because it means one less lunch to worry about for him. HE’s the champ though at boxing it and leaving it on the table or the top of the car (I don’t think he’s ever left it in the ladies room).

  4. We’re actually pretty good at saving ours, but our 4-year-old never eats HER leftovers. I’ll offer for a few days, then toss them. Three weeks later, she’ll ask for them. She doesn’t get it that they’d be awfully nasty by then!

  5. We still fight this battle with my mother (who now resides in a nursing center). She can’t stand the thought of a server throwing HER food in the trash. She wants to take the leftovers back to her room to save for lunch. (Even though we never let them get out of the car.)

  6. My beloved Gramma was a doggie-bag (or napkin or baggie that she carried in her purse) requester. It seriously grossed me out, but she would save and eat anything she ever ordered. I sort of feel like I’m doing the *right* thing by asking for it and making an attempt. Now that we have to take our own trash to the dump, I’m a lot more likely to let the restaurant do the tossing LOL Happy weekend!

  7. LOL. I, too, was going to say that my
    82 yr old mother is the champ of eating
    leftovers from restaurants! NOTHING ever
    gets tossed! Perhaps, when we hit 80 yrs
    old, we will dethrone the reigning champ!

  8. I do the exact same thing. I feel it’s my duty to drag the partially eaten remains of my meal back to my house in the hopes that I will eat them later. Even though the food will most likely end up in the trash, I just can’t leave them at the restaurant.

    I once had a friend leave her boxed up leftovers under the seat of my car. She had eaten salmon. It was summer and I was going out of town for a few days. By the time I returned, my car smelled like something had died. My stomach feels sick just thinking about it.

  9. Last week I think was the first time ever that we ate the all of the leftovers from dinner the very next day. Not one thing was left. Your Sr. Edwina would be so proud of us.

  10. 10/4. That sounded about right. Didn’t you wish they would just simply send that stuff to those poor starving children and let you alone with something good.

    I love doggie bags. Alas, seldom do they contain STEAK.

  11. I just threw away a to-go box this week! It had a perfectly delicious reuben sandwich in it, but I’m funny about leftovers. It’s the guilt thing.

    Maybe when I’m 85 I’ll actually eat the stuff I bring home. Assuming, of course, I can still go out to eat.

  12. And there would be 18% less trash in the world if we didn’t use up a container for that leftover that we never eat.

    We can save the environment if we just let those children starve in China…LOL!

  13. Are you kidding? I LOVE restaurant leftovers! I eat them for lunch next day. I am mourning the loss of your spinich quesadillas, which sound yummy.

  14. I am a recovering waitress who spent nearly 2 years waiting tables after college (remember that early-90’s recession?). I can promise you that more than 80% of leftovers are taken off premise. What happens after that? Clearly most end up in the trash.

    So then, what should we feel more guilty about? Starving kids in developing nations or more containers and plastic bags in landfills?

    On the upside, we are in temp housing right now without sufficient dishes. Leftover containers have become our fine china :~)

  15. When I was on a diet I would eat half the meal at the restaurant and then take the rest home. That was the plan, but honestly when you are on a diet who is the last person you trust. Answer: yourself. Usually once I got to the car and revived the engine I was revving up my engine with the left over’s. Worst yet after I put my son down I would grab a glass of wine (or two) open the to-go box as if it were a present and just indulge myself. Needless to say, I now leave the left over’s on the plate at the restaurant and I am 15 lbs happier for it. You all must be skinny. Have a good weekend.

  16. I guess we are one of those few people who actually EAT leftovers. Maybe it is our Indian upbringing. Our parents did not have to tell us about kids without food. All we had to do was open our eyes and look around. I am a bit of a Nazi when it comes to food wasting now. I knew personally kids studying by lamplight with gnawing stomachs when I was growing up.

    This is not to say I have never wasted food. I have thrown away restaurant leftovers plenty of times, but recently I am becoming very aware of my choices. I know that eating leftovers does not help starving children anywhere, but I think it helps to make slightly better choices and be aware. Eg. when I go to a restaurant that I frequent and I know that the portions are huge, I specifically ask them to reduce it for me. And for some reason I CANNOT eat meat leftovers, so I try not to order meat dishes at all.

    I was just reading my response, and it sounded preachy, did not mean to do that. Sorry. It is just something I struggled with a lot when I came to US 6 years ago and worked in a restaurant and saw all the food waste going on there.

    It’s true. The amount of food wasted in this country is criminal. We don’t eat out much these days, but when we do, I usually try to split something with AD. If I order something for Sean, I don’t order for me because I know he will take one bite. ~AM

  17. It’s complicated in there and the circuitry is circuitous. –brilliant!

    …but because this is a blog, I shall state it with some authority anyway, as though it were fact:… –I love this! Isn’t that so true?!!

    With or without it being a blog post, I completely agree with your estimations. I’ve done it all! Left it at the table, left it in the ladie’s room, left it on the car and left it IN the car, in the summer:)

  18. I can tell you EXACTLY where 100% of my household’s contribution to that 5% goes. MY DARLING HUSBAND EATS THEM. Even if they are MY leftovers from MY dinner, he eats them. His rule is “if it is in the refrigerator, it is free game.” As I was leaving for work one day last week, I opened the fridge to get my leftovers from the evening before. I couldn’t find them. I turned around to see my smiling husband standing over in the corner. “Whatcha lookin’ for?” he asked. “My leftovers.” “What leftovers?” “MY Olive Garden leftovers,” I said, seeing where this conversation was headed. “Oh. Those. Yeah, um, I needed a little midnight snack. Sorry. Sorta. Mmmmmm, good!”

    Gonna hafta shoot ‘im.

  19. I always eat leftovers, whether it’s from a restaurant or last night’s meal. So much easier than actually fixing another meal! Wow, I must be really slothful.

  20. Count me in that .1%. Not that I often have leftovers from a restaurant, but I am the envy of those at work when I pull out my leftovers to eat. Working night shift, you either bring your own food or eat the sandwiches from the machiness.

    Sometimes I bring enough for two.

  21. Let’s be clear. I don’t have anything against leftovers. I would eat my restaurant leftovers if I could remember to a) bring them home from the restaurant b) take them out of the car c) they were in the fridge.

  22. Ahah! I knew there was a benefit to living in a deep freeze, um, Minnesota! If we leave the leftovers in the car we come back to a nice frozen dinner! 🙂 Perfectly good and totally edible. Unless it’s July. Or August. Other than that, we’re good to go! 😉

  23. Me! ME! I eat leftovers! Anything will go in a sandwich, duuuude. O warm ’em up. No cooking! I love to announce “Leftover Night” at home and call out the list of stuff in the fridge. Almost everyone can get something they like to eat. Or a piece of toast. Leftovers=not having to cook.

  24. We pretty much always eat our leftovers. In fact, we so rarely eat the entire meal at restaurants that I often plan it as lunch for the next day on my calendar! I would suggest that as a step for you (write it on the calendar to remember to eat it), but remembering to take it out of the restaurant (or your car) has to come first! 😉

  25. Now that I have teenagers—–they eat it as soon as it hits the house—–usually.

    Once or twice they actually took the leftovers to school for lunch.


  26. I never even dreamed of asking for a box until I made friends with a couple years ago. It just never entered my mind. Now, 20 years later, DH and I always ask for to-go boxes, BUT DH loves left-overs and always eats the food. I’m glad to see him eat fajitas for breakfast because I know that we haven’t wasted our money. 🙂

  27. I do the SAME thing. Except I leave mine on the restaurant table. It’s unbelievable, really, because if I manage to take it with me, I might leave it on top of the car, and if I manage to get it into the car, I might leave it inside, and if I manage to take it in the house, I might leave it on the kitchen island while I’m putting my keys away.

    No matter what, they never make it into the fridge.

  28. So– what you need is a plan to help you get said leftover from the car to the fridge. You should come up with a system. You could either:

    a.) Make a personal rule that you will write on the inside of your hand “leftovers” so that when you get home and start to put on your pajamas, you would see the scrawl and run out to the car and get them.


    b.) Make a personal rule that you will carry the leftovers home on your lap.

    Why do I know this? Because I used to leave them in the car too. Now they sit on my lap.

    I love left-overs. 🙂

  29. The hubs can’t find the book he was reading last week. I’m headed now to look under the seat of his car. Then…mine. Just in case. Where have you been? I never see you…um…around anymore.

  30. I went out to sushi with a friend the other day…her 3 year old ate very little of his teriyaki and of course she got the box and brought it home. A few hours later she called and reminded me to get the box out of my car so it wouldn’t smell it up too much! Good post on the truths of the ‘doggie bag’

  31. I do that all the time, too!

    Two years ago, I went on a business trip to Seattle, and thought it was rather handy that there were homeless people directly outside most of the restaurants. Every night, my coworkers and I would have our leftovers packaged up to go, and then could step right outside and hand them to someone who was thrilled to receive them!

    THAT was a win-win situation. Not that I’m glad there are homeless people ANYWHERE, but in Seattle, their location worked out pretty well!

  32. Oh man, am I the only one who goes home and eats them later that night? (Hangs head in shame.)

  33. This is so true!! My kids often carry out my left over boxes and I’m not reminded by the box that should be sitting next to me on the passenger seat. I’m a single mom and my little ones are too young to sit up front. They always want to help mommy. One of these days, I WILL remember to bring in one of those left over boxes, just so I can say I did. And I WIll eat it! Then the guilt will go away for a little while, lol.

  34. Oh gosh, this reminds me of the time my mom and I got in the car after a long hard day of shopping (in South Florida in June) and she said, “(Sniff sniff) Do you … smell… something?” It was my leftover ostrich steak from the WEEK before. How we didn’t notice it for almost a week in 90 degree weather I have no idea. But I was so mad because it was one of the very first “nice” dinners I ever had – and I was so looking forward to eating the rest of it! Oddly, I’ve never eaten ostrich since then… Hmm.

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