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Dennis Eats Leftovers Too

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Mike Ruby
Mike Ruby
A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

In an August 2019 cartoon, Dennis the Menace says to his friend Joey, “My mom is usually a great cook, but by the end of the week, we never know what we’ll get.”

I can relate to Dennis. As a kid, leftovers at our kitchen table were just as much of a staple as meat and potatoes. Mother rarely threw food away, always striving to come up with creative and tasty ways to serve leftovers. The refrigerator was usually crowded with small, covered dishes filled with “this and that” remnants that Mother would make meals from for our family. Occasionally, when the food wasn’t all that tasty, we learned to keep our thoughts to ourselves, but Mother could always read our nonverbal expressions.

Jo Anne grew up on a farm and started making meals for the hired help when she was about twelve. She is an outstanding chef and prepares the majority of our meals from scratch. When there are leftovers from our meals, I will see them again (and again) until the food is gone. That’s fine with me.

For decades, I thought everyone ate leftovers and I never gave it a second thought. About thirty years ago, I was amazed to learn of a friend who refused to eat leftovers. Any food not eaten after each meal was treated as table scraps and thrown into the garbage. Are you kidding? Sadly, some of his adult children have followed this same practice and he thinks “the chip off the ol’ block” practice is rather humorous. I find it disgusting.

Oftentimes, the portions at restaurants are greater than our appetites, so Jo Anne and I routinely ask for a box and look forward to enjoying the leftovers later in the week. I’ve observed servers in restaurants clearing tables that still have a substantial amount of food on them. Even though boxes and “doggie bags” are available, the patrons choose to walk out the door leaving food they have paid for. I’ll never understand that.

How can eating leftovers save you money and reduce waste?

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