Leftovers to go

Lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco

You’ve been here before: sitting in a restaurant staring at the uneaten portion of your meal that could not find its way to your stomach. Perhaps you’re out to dinner with your family and the kids barely touch their dishes. In both instances the food gets packed up and brought home. Leftovers for the next day.

The next day arrives and you open the fridge. Dang! It smells like the  leftovers. The origami-like cardboard carton leaked. That’s right those things don’t really seal in the freshness. Or, the clamshell container with the compartments that organize your foods and prevent them from touching has failed at its mission. You were in a rush to get home and the slippery food items sloshed over their borders and oozed out of the container. The plastic bag in which you transported it is sullied with food slim. Yuck! What a mess. Sometimes leftovers are more work than they are worth.

Or are they?

In more ways than one, there is a better way. Bring your own trusted container(s) from home.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1  – You decide you’re going out to eat. You know it’s a place where leftovers are common.

Step 2 – Before leaving the house, you grab a food storage container or two (glass jar, metal tin, plastic container…whatever you use!) and put them in your favorite reusable bag. Remember to grab the bag as you head out the door!

Step 3 – You enjoy your meal and find you’ve had your share with plenty to spare.

Step 4 – If preempted by the waitperson who asks if you’d like the leftovers packed up to go, let them know you’ve got it covered. Smile and show them your container(s).

Step 5 – Nonchalantly bring your container(s) to the table and transfer the leftovers. Snap on the lid(s) and head home.

For those of you who are more visual, it looks kind of like this:

no waste packaging of leftovers in a restaurant

an empty platepacking leftovers to go in a restaurant into a container from home

Voila! You’ve got secure food transport, tomorrow’s lunch, and nary a piece of disposal packaging!



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  1. Avatar
    Sven Reply

    as the model in the photos I must confirm that this is really a fun and easy method to bring home your leftovers. And I love the look on the waiters’ face, sort of like back in the dark ages of the 1990s when cashiers looked at you funny for bringing your own bag to the grocery store.

    Just as canvas bags have become really popular, with all kinds of fun art and logos on it, I’m thinking this could be a great ideas for restaurants to have their own reusable take out containers with their logo or other fun design on it. That would make a great conversation piece!

  2. Avatar
    connie Reply

    We do that regularly – I count on those midweek leftovers for school lunches! and I love the idea for restaurants to have offer personalized reusable containers! will look into and share it with my favorite Italian restaurant.

    • liberatedspaces
      liberatedspaces Reply

      Connie, I think your favorite Italian restaurant (which is now one of mine, too) would be a leader, a trend-setter!

  3. liberatedspaces
    liberatedspaces Reply

    Sven, I think you’re onto something here!

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