You Don’t Have To Finish It… (Wealth Tip #48)

Money Saving Tip #45: You Don't Have To Finish It...

This was a tough one for me because I was always finishing the packet or clearing my plate.

But both Paul McKenna and my wife would disagree with me.

Let’s start with my wife. She would often say to me “No, don’t finish it, I’ll have it tomorrow…” and could be referring to a last drop of juice in a glass, some remaining salad or some of the food on my plate. It’s not often that she’s referring to the food on my plate, simply because I habitually finish all of the food on my plate.

Ask For A Doggy Bag

If we go out to a restaurant, my wife has no problem whatsoever asking for a doggy bag and I’ve very often been surprised at how great what I’d consider ‘leftover’ food from last nights restaurant tasted the next day.

Having two young children has helped too.

I used to throw away leftover food. I would also never have dreamed of eating food from another person’s plate – well, not if they’d messed with it first. A few things have changed that. Firstly my wife, with her insistence on keeping portions of food even a sparrow wouldn’t eat for later consumption. Secondly my kids, and also a little bit, Paul McKenna pops into my head because he has partly changed my attitude toward clearing my plate.

Enjoy Sharing Food

After plenty of times making beautiful meals for our kids and hating to see good food go to waste when they wouldn’t eat it, we have often helped our kids finish their meal. I have found this a great way to get them to eat along with me, i.e. along the lines of “Would you eat some if I help you with it?”. This started with me helping the kids to eat the food they didn’t like – which I was OK with because they hadn’t touched it. It gradually evolved into me being able to share pretty much any food that’s on their plate (if they actually do want me to help them with it, which isn’t as often these days). Not only am I not so silly about eating off other people’s plates, but I actually love sharing. The 4 of us (my wife, my 2 children and I) always share our meals whenever we go out anywhere these days and we really make the most of our food, savoring it (we’re pretty good cooks so that’s not difficult) and not wasting any at all.

So we now have a choice. Helping each other with our food if some of us aren’t hungry, or saving it until the next day if we’re all full. As the quality of our food is pretty good, that really works too.

In fact, I no longer see this as ‘leftover’ food, I just see it as ‘food’.

Ordering Less

If eating out, another way of avoiding having leftover food or eating too much is to order less in the first place.

When we eat out as a family (which, just like reducing the frequency of our cinema visits we do much less often these days meaning that the occasion is much more enjoyable, we cook more great food at home and we save lots of money) we usually only order 3 meals. This is because we know we will be sharing and just enjoy the food so much more that way. So we just order three meals and make sure they are the meals that we really really want. Usually the two children choose exactly what they’d like best (whether a kids meal or sometimes an adult meal for one or both of them) and then my wife and I will choose the third meal which we’ll share together. We’ll then enjoy sharing that meal and help the kids with anything they can’t finish from theirs.

We’ve been doing this for years now and haven’t yet ended a meal feeling hungry (or wasting anything).

My Habit of Finishing The Packet

The other thing I said at the start of the article was that I also had a habit of finishing the packet. This is definitely now a ‘had’ habit as since my recent focus on diet with my now modified version of the slow carb diet and my diet system, this just isn’t an issue for me any more at all. Kicking this habit has certainly lead to more health and more wealth.

With the always finishing the packet habit, I had this kind of unhelpful thought ‘oh I may as well finish the packet’. For example, if cooking spaghetti and I’d used about 80% of what’s left in the packet, it would be a mammoth ask for me not to just chuck the rest in. I may as well cook it all whilst I’m doing it. Then we’d have the meal and I’d say ‘I’ve made a bit too much pasta again’.

If I fancied a biscuit or maybe two with my cup of tea and there are three left in the packet, I would finish all three. In fact (surprise, surprise) I’d developed something of a system around this – I’d have one ‘pre-tea’ biscuit, to be eaten and enjoyed whilst I’m actually making the cup of tea, and two to have with the cup of tea. That  definitely developed into something of a habit which I’m happy to say I’ve now snapped (pun intended, ha ha ha) out of. The right thing to do? Obviously just to leave one (or two if I’m strong enough) biscuit(s) in the packet. Actually at the moment I eat no biscuits at all 6 days per week and then still eat them on my ‘cheat’ day (Saturdays) but I’m finding that my palate is now craving fewer sweet things anyway.

Either Intentionally Save Some or Make Only What You Need

It’s taken me a long time and some passive observation of my wife who is the worlds best at doing things in moderation – to be able to say that most meals I make these days are either deliberately made with a lot more so that we can save some for the next day or I make just what we need to eat and no more. I can leave things in the bottom of packets even if I’m very close to finishing them and it doesn’t hurt at all!

As an example of how we have deliberately made more and creatively re-used the food, I recently made a kind of tagine/stew which we actually ate over 3 days (not intentionally, I just made more than we needed thinking we’d use it the next day too and we actually used it over 3 days). The next day we re-heated the sauce and changed it slightly with some added fresh ingredients (mainly herbs from our garden) and had it with some pasta. There wasn’t too much left after that, but true to the point of this article, we saved it anyway rather than finishing it all off on day 2 and the next day we had a beautiful soup with some nice fresh bread.

So Where Does Paul McKenna Fit In?

Well, I told you that I have always cleared my plate – I don’t any longer feel that I ‘have’ to, but I normally still do. Paul McKenna wrote a book (and I think also made a TV series) called ‘I Can Make You Thin‘. In this book he talks about resigning from the ‘Clean plate club’. He tells his readers that they have to stop eating the instant that they are full or even close to it and if that means leaving food on the plate, then leave it on there. In fact he tells people to begin to deliberately leave food on their plates every time they eat to send a message to their unconcious mind, letting him know that they are changing, that they are leaving the ‘Clean Plate club’. Well, I’m not sure if I’m still in the Clean plate club or not, but my version of this is to make sure I don’t put too much food on the plate in the first place, so it’s OK to clean my plate, and if by chance I have put too much food on there, then I now have the education, understanding and will power to be able to leave some food on there, give it to someone else, or save it until the next day as is most appropriate.

Final Thought – It Will Make You Healthier Too

So why is this in the Wealth section? Isn’t it a Health tip? Well, you’re right, it could be, but guess what? If you follow the advice in this tip, not only will you be more healthy, not only will you enjoy your food more, not only will you have more energy, but you will also save lots of money!

In fact to give you a real bargain in true money-saving style, it’s a multi-pack of tips – share, you don’t have to eat it all and re-use. Have you been brought up to believe you should always finish your plate? Do you have anything against saving food for later?

Next Wealth Tip: Cut Out The Middleman
Previous Wealth Tip: Check The Alternatives


You Don’t Have To Finish It… (Wealth Tip #48) — 6 Comments

  1. I used to be a member of the clean plate club. Years ago, I could eat everything on the plate whether I was hungry for it or not. There’s just something about food on a plate that makes you really want to continue even though you’ve had enough. Now I’m much better at it. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten out where I didn’t have leftovers to take home at the end. It’s reached a point where I’ve just assumed there will be some left over to take home with me.

    I actually had a theory about this. I think some restaurants put larger portions onto plates so they can increase prices a little. More food=higher prices. Since they don’t make money while you’re not there, they just give you more while you’re there and you can either eat it, throw it away or take it home with you. Either way, you gave them just a little bit more money. Anyways, it’s just a theory.
    Steve recently posted..Why It’s Important to Surround Yourself with Interesting PeopleMy Profile

    • Exactly. I think I’m still the same – it probably works better for me to just put less on the plate in the first place (a smaller plate helps too) than think about leaving food.

      It’s nice to have the knowledge though – e.g. that the signal to our brain telling us we’re full takes some time to get through.

      Interesting theory – could be right. I definitely know at least one restaurant where I’m 100% certain that’s true.
      Alan recently posted..Why It’s OK To FailMy Profile

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