Doing It Doggy-Style

Restaurant campaigns: what are they for? There, we’ve said it. An organisation somewhere, usually highly ethically minded, begins a website and endeavours to sign restaurants up to it, sending them window stickers in return, promising the proprietors this is what will increase custom. If you can give them sustainable sea snails, beef from the cow next door, knowledge that your leftover cooking oil is powering the pizza-delivery vans across the street, they will throng through your doors. And do we? Do we ever, ever pay any attention to these campaigns? Do we heck.

The latest is yet another good germ of an idea that hasn’t really been thought through. Toogood-towaste.co.uk aims to reduce food waste by encouraging restaurants to hand over free cardboard ‘doggy bags’ to the customers – shall you take your congealed gravy and cold spuds to go, sir? According to one article, for every meal eaten out in London, a pound (in weight) of food is wasted. It doesn’t state if that’s for a three-course meal (which it surely must be, otherwise there are scores of thousands of main meals ordered and simply uneaten), but that is the implication. Whatever the case, it’s an awful lot of food per diner and a statistic we should be concerned about.

Restaurants are the ultimate in sybaritic and wasteful luxury: since society decided it could afford to have someone else cook the food and wash up afterwards, it created its very own tacitly-permitted food tip and it’s one that never stops growing. In eating out, we take the view that we can afford to waste our food if we so choose: we have paid for it, after all. It’s a rather ridiculous standpoint as we mostly take completely the opposite view at home (‘Don’t waste that chicken, I’ve paid for it’). Think of the surplus when taking into account the items on the menu not cooked that evening – fish and seafood, for example. Think of the side dishes ordered and not eaten; the vegetables left untouched; the pudding because you only wanted ‘a nibble’.

But are ‘doggy bags’ really the answer? How many of us leave food of an appealing enough nature to warrant a doggy bag, or even want to take a doggy bag home. It rather smacks of the walk of shame, no? To be handed a bag of leftovers (hopefully yours….) and asked to finish your meal at home like a good boy/girl. We can’t see it being a big hit, unless you’re one of a fortunate party to have ordered a suckling pig, in which case, we’ll need a trailer please. Perhaps smaller portions are the solution. Or a careful vetting by the waitstaff as to your intentions towards finishing your meal (‘No pudding till you’ve finished your veggies’).

Would you ever want to take home your leftovers? Have you ever even been offered the opportunity? How many of you would actually eat them the next day – or would you bin them? Or can you think of a better way?

  • Robert

    I was at The Lighthouse Restaurant, Boylestone Derbyshire just before Christmas and one of our party could not finish an excellent venison pie, so the chef and staff actually took it away and brought it back with a new ‘fresh’ uncooked pastry top with instructions of how the cook this at home and apparently it was absolutely excellent when cooked the next day, what service!!

  • Peter

    Why not have aswell as children’s portions have
    older people / small appetite portions at cheaper prices.