Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wasting or Not?

My family and I are in Illinois visiting our dear friends, Denise and Steve. We’re at a restaurant known for its Chicago-style pizza. Denise, a high level district retail manager, who is accustomed to fine dining and various cuisines while traveling around the country, recommends a couple of dishes and decides on her meal. The waiter comes to our table and Denise orders three things from the menu. I think it’s a salad, a main course, and something else to share with her husband. But…he orders, too. Her salad arrives and it is big enough to feed three people! All the other food is served and everything is huge! My first thought, “I’ll have delicious leftovers.”

Denise offers to share her beautiful salad and I accept, but I don’t take too much because I’m also devouring the deep dish pizza - and it is “her” salad.

It’s twenty minutes later and the waiter is back asking if he can take anything from the table; and what does Denise do? She waves the salad away! The beautiful, delicious salad, not even half eaten…gone. I can’t react fast enough to tell the waiter, “Bring that back!”

“Denise, you hardly ate any of that. I would have eaten more if I’d known that you weren’t going to eat it all.”

“Oh, I’m sorry Anita. I just ordered it because I just wanted a ‘little taste’ of it.”
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Steve casually says, “Oh, Denise orders and eats like that all the time.”

I’m thinking, “That’s right – they don’t have three college educations to pay for.”

There’s a lot of waste in my household too. My daughter is rushing to get the bus for school and she still pours herself a second bowl of cereal and adds more milk, even though she has one minute before she has to leave. Two spoonfuls eaten and she’s gone.

Why?

Am I the only person that hates throwing away perfectly good food? My kids bring their lunch boxes home from school with sandwiches that they’ve taken two bites out of. Hot, greasy cheese sticks come back. Soggy fruit comes back.

“Oh Mommy, I wasn’t that hungry today.”

Do they think money grows on trees? (Oh, that was the sixties and seventies.)
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And let's not even talk about the leftovers from the fridge.

But back to restaurants – When my husband, the girls and I eat out, I, Miss Frugal, will asks questions such as, “How many chicken tenders does that include? Will a slice of that cake serve two? What’s the size glass for the small serving of juice?”

After many episodes of seeing whole plates of french fries, half eaten sundaes, and syrup drenched pancakes taken away from our table because my girls (who eat like birds) can’t finish their meals or because we can’t take it in a doggy bag, I have learned that sharing an entrée between two kids is the thing to do. I don’t have to hear the voices of my parents saying, “There are kids starving in Africa and India.”

At a restaurant, are you paying for the dining and socializing experience, or the food, or both? Are you okay with food being thrown away as long as you’ve had a pleasant experience?

15 comments:

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

We were cut from the same cloth! My parents were sticklers about wasting food and very rarely did we get up from the table unless our plates were clean. When we went out to eat, they insisted that we share a plate and even share a soda. I think they knew that we also ate like birds and they didn't want to see the money fly out their wallets.

I would've done the same thing that you did..."Bring that salad back!!"

Judy Thomas said...

I'm with you, Anita and with Ms. Chocolate. Of course, we have a boy. A 13 year old boy. A boy who eats 6 or so meals a day and has been demolishing huge servings of food for a few years now...and is rail thin (and 6 feet tall). We seldom have restaurant leftovers unless my husband and I order something he really, really dislikes (a very small category of foodstuffs-even chilies don't stop him anymore!). But I cannot understand ordering things you know you will not be able to finish. Order one thing at a time, and go back another time to order the other item you wanted. Or take it home!
I remember when I went to a conference and heard this story: at lunch time, the conferees sat down to a buffet lunch, plates piled high. One, a teacher, had an apple, some cheese and a few crackers. Others encouraged her to get more, it was free, it was abundant, try this, and that...but all she would say is "I am satisfied." Few people are satisfied, can be content with enough, with something simple, are always searching, never just being there...
from Ms. Laura Ingalls Wilder

Deb said...

I'm with you Anita, I hate to throw out perfectly good food or see it go in the garbage at a restaurant.

My husband and I used to travel quit a bit before we had our daughter and we discovered years ago that when dining out, sharing an appetizer and entree were enough for us both. We used to call those huge plates of food "portion distortion". Far too much for one person to eat!

Dorraine said...

You're not the only one, Anita. Think it stems back to my young years with eight siblings, but I don't throw food away. Leftovers is a word my family is very familiar with.

Alicia said...

I HATE to waste!!! I moreso hate to waste food in our fridge than from a restaurant. I mean, I don't like that either but it's tolerable b/c every restaurant seems to give such large portions. Some food you just can't take in a doggy bag. Since my boys are still so little, they ALWAYS share. Nothing like 2 kids eating for $4.99 total! LOL
But yeah, I can't stand to throw away good leftovers in the fridge - especially since I also HATE to cook. If I'm cooking, I'm also expecting it all to be eaten... hmmmfffpphh! LOL

Anita said...

CHOCOLATE, JUDY, DEB, DORRAINE, ALICIA, I see that we have similar (if not the same) opinions. Thanks for taking the time to explain your thinking. All of our households are of different make-ups, so it's good hear all the different and specific reasons.

I know there are others out there that disagree or slightly differ. Let's hear from you! :)

Candee Fick said...

I'm all about taking food home in a "doggy bag" because then I don't pack a lunch the next day. We also order a meal for two of the kids to split because they just don't eat that much.

Well, I'm also cheap and on a tight budget. I guess I don't see the wasted food as much as the money being thrown away.

Bernie said...

It is a dilemma. Restaurants always serve too large a serving. Seems to me they could cut down and cut their prices along with it.

I do not like leftovers. If I bring it homw in a doggy bag, it sits in the frig until I throw it away so I might as well not take it home in the first place. I think often of all the starving people when I see the waiters pick up almost full plates of food to throw away. At least I hope they throw them away and not recycle them!!!!!

Thank you for your visit to my blog.

Anita said...

CANDEE, I'm glad you put more emphasis on the waste of money. Good addition to the conversation. I'm sure that's a major factor for many people. I always look at the prices on everything regardless of whether I can afford it or not! :)

Anita said...

BERNIE, I knew there was someone out there that doesn't like leftovers! Thanks for bringing a different point of view into the conversation.

newmumover40 said...

Whenever I can, I order entree sizes. And that is in Australia. When I lived in the States for a year, I couldn't believe the portion size. Even Bigger! Bigger and better supposedly.

My stomach can only hold so much. And I prefer to stop when I am satisfied, not overfull and rolling out of the door. Yet, when there is still more yummy food left in your bowl, you always have a little bit more.

Last night, after a pleasantly good sized meal (still at the same price, of course!), I even had the wonderful privledge of sharing some ice cream with my other half. What a treat! I loved it!That never happens when we eat out. 'Cause we are always too full after the big portion meal that usually arrives on the table.

Will have to eat there again. Bring on the nice smaller portion sizes!

Abby said...

I can't stand to throw away perfectly good food. That restaurant story is giving me the shakes!

We hardly ever eat at restaurants as a family, more because of the money savings from cooking at home. With 3 boys, having lots of food leftover is NOT a problem.

Anita said...

NEWMUM, yes I hear lots of news reports about how large the portions of food are here in America. With weight and health getting more attention via the media, maybe things will begin to turn around.

But, I'm guilty! Eating tasty food is one of life's great plesures, and I have been none to cram it in sometimes...but hot too often. :)

Anita said...

ABBY, I always enjoy a home cooked meal, and I'm working on getting better at planning and making good and nutritioous meals. Eating out is a treat, but I don't feel the urge to do it often.

There seems to be a common theme concerning boys! :)

Anita said...

NEWMUM, I really "can" spell!
plesures--> pleasures
none---> known
hot----> not

Slow down Anita!