Blindsided! (Restaurant leftovers)

So this morning I meet a friend for breakfast.  We had a great time chatting, and I ordered my favorite default out-for-breakfast thing, a veggie skillet. (Yeah, I know, the veggies were not organic and the eggs were likely not free range…I’m following Erin’s 80/20 rule, or trying to, anyway…)

evil styrofoamAs usual, there was way too much to eat. Okay, to be honest, I could easily have eaten the whole thing, but it would have been sort of piggy and I absolutely didn’t need it, so I stopped halfway (okay, okay, maybe 2/3 of the way) through and absent-mindedly asked for a box to take it home in.  Wasn’t even thinking, radar wasn’t going at all.  Until this ginormous piece of styrofoam is plopped down in front of me.  A giant entree-sized styrofoam box for my little 4″x5″ piece of potatoes, eggs, and veggies.

We honestly don’t eat out much at all, so this hasn’t been in my awareness circle for ages–those big styrofoam things that nine restaurants out of ten give you to take your leftovers home in.  Some places do the foil with the paper or plastic lid, old-fashioned Chinese places do straight cardboard (although more and more of them seem to be going to styrofoam, which is tragic as far as I’m concerned), but most seem to use what’s probably among the least enviro-friendly substances known to humanity to send our leftovers home.

So of course, now I’m thinking about alternatives.

To be completely honest, there’s a bit of the declasse factor–it’s become very socially acceptable to bring your own grocery bags to the store, but it still feels sort of Oliver Twist to bring one’s own doggy bags.  It won’t stop me, but I totally wouldn’t blame any readers if the thought of this step gave them the mmmrrrrpphs.  (Never stopped the ladies in the retirement community when we used to give concerts either–the first ones to make it to the reception would bring ziploc bags and fill them with cookies at intermission before the rest of the audience made it out there. In 5 years of concerts there I never saw so much as half a chocolate chip cookie; all that was ever left by the time the performers made it out was some of those weird bright pink butter cookies that come in giant tins…but I digress.)

But that styrofoam…ugh, look at it! I won’t drink coffee out of it any more, and honestly the single strongest factor that keeps me buying small coffees at Dunkin Donuts rather than medium is that the small comes in cardboard and anything larger is in styrofoam. (I know, I should make my own coffee and bring it in a reusable mug, but sometimes…oh heck, I’m digressing again.)

So, what are some other possibilities?

Simplest, of course, I guess, is to be the kind of person who carries a giant purse (or a diaper bag!), and tuck a few reusable food storage containers in there whenever you are on the go–that way you’re prepared for anything.  If you have less space, you could even go with some kind of collapsible lidded bowl or container (note: I have no idea what kind of plastic these are made of, vis a vis food safety), or even, I guess, something similar actually made for transporting dog food

There’s a lot out there for waste-free lunches nowadays too–Depending on what and where you’re eating (this would require a little more planning ahead than I’m usually on for), even something like a wrap-n-mat would get a lot of foodstuffs safely home–certainly my skillet leftovers would have been fine in there, though I’m not sure I would entrust pasta to it. Honestly, even a plain old ziploc bag stuffed in your purse would be a lot more environmentally friendly than that styrofoam stuff, especially if you could rinse out and re-use the ziploc.  (I’m a big fan of wrap-n-mats–I bought one, thinking I could recreate it and learn to make something just as good myself, and honestly I have not been successful.  This is a great little reusable sandwich wrap.)

Katie and I promised to try to do this breakfast thing at least once every couple of months, so we’ll see what I can come up with for our next outing.  Anyone else have any ideas? I’m open to suggestions!

In the meantime, I guess I have some leftovers to go and eat.

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Posted on September 22, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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