Sunday, August 26, 2007

Restaurants: the Waist/Waste Challenge

Lot of traveling, out-of-town guests, and meals out lately.... I love eating out, but it's challenging. I work very hard at not overeating, partly for health, partly for vanity, and partly for ethics - I don't want to eat more than my fair share.
Restaurant portions are ridiculously huge. Since the majority of Americans are overweight, restaurants no longer give healthy, appropriate portions. [Maybe they never did?] I find the portions rather absurd, and dislike taking home leftovers in styrofoam containers. I often forget to eat them and then I've wasted both the food and the container!
I have hit on two effective solutions.
The first is to order an appetizer for an entree. Servers seem totally fine with this. It's cheaper, of course, but my main motivation is not to save money but to right-size the portion. I've yet to be unsatisfied, but if I were, I could always order dessert!
The second is to split an entre. I never used to do this because it felt cheap and I was embarrassed. As a result a lot of food went to waste. I got over it, and so can you. I was recently with a group of women friends and two of us split an order or eggplant parmesan . Even splitting it in half, there was still significant amount to take home to eat the next day. Truly, it fed three middle-aged women who watch what they eat. As with ordering appetizers as an entre, servers are fine with customers splitting a dish. They often bring a second plate.
One last suggestion: if you want to use more efficient packaging to bring home leftovers, carry a zip-lock bag in your pocketbook. It's perfect for a non-messy leftover like a piece of fish or pizza.

3 comments:

rsps said...

I got one of these:
http://store.greenfeet.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=6007-00185-0000

for bringing left-overs home. It works well if I actually get it into the car.

Jonathan said...

I enjoyed reading your restaurant strategies. It's easy to complain about a problem, but harder to find solutions. Visit Wasted Food for more solutions.

You've hit on an annoying aspect of eating out these days. You are given a choice: overeat, waste food or take it home. Receiving a sensible size portion is seldom an option.

I think good old tupperware would be a happy medium between the ziplock and the metal container, but whatever works...

MoneyChangesThings said...

Sometimes it's a little awkward to show up at an tony restaurant with a tupperware container ;-)
One thing I forgot to add. I try to be reasonably generous with the tip, since ordering less = lower bill = lower % for the server. Especially if you don't order booze.