The Best Restaurant Leftover You're Leaving Behind Too Often

Whether the portion sizes are too large or you just want to savor a meal a bit longer, restaurant doggie bags are the answer when there's still an abundance of food on your dinner plate. However, beyond packaging a few stray jalapeño poppers or a half-eaten panini, there are also some second-tier leftovers that you may not have considered taking to go.

A choice that makes sense economically and sustainably, bringing restaurant leftovers home is a pretty standard practice unless you're following a multi-course tasting menu or asking for an impossibly complicated dish to be wrapped up. That said, when deciding which elements of your meal to take and which others to leave behind, where exactly do you draw the line?

While you might not bat an eye at packing up the rest of a T-bone steak, things shouldn't be any different when you're left with a giant bone scraped of its marrow, a huge pile of chicken wing bones, or a mess of prawn shells. In fact, these so-called table scraps are precisely the leftovers you should be bringing home — consider this your sign never to let another bone (beef, pork, seafood, or otherwise) be tossed again.

The blueprint for bringing bones home

With flavors, textures, and aesthetics changing (and rarely for the better), the remnants of yesterday's dinner never taste quite the same the next day, leaving them more susceptible to being trashed. However, bones or other odds and ends have more potential than other restaurant leftovers because their entire intended function is to be repurposed. 

Just because restaurants themselves can't reuse the gnawed bones on your plate, that doesn't mean that you can't. One of the best things to do with bones, but also the carrot nubs and parsley garnishes decorating your plate, is to make a flavorful stock or a bone broth, which can then be used in all sorts of culinary applications from soups to sauces to gravies and beyond. Of course, you could also make Fido's day, treating your pup to that hefty Tomahawk bone.

As for how to bring bones home efficiently, you can ask the restaurant to wrap up any and all leftovers — emphasize that it's precisely the scraps that you want to take home. Alternatively, to avoid having bones accidentally trashed, you could take a stealthier approach and bring your own reusable containers or bags, packing up leftovers before anyone even notices. The only other thing to remember is to refrigerate or freeze scraps as soon as possible to limit any bacterial growth since there could be perishable meat still lingering on bones. There you have it, it's that easy to bring home the bones.