Who Gets the Holiday Leftovers?

Updated on April 02, 2013
A.L. asks from Charleston, SC
32 answers

I just hosted Easter dinner at my house for 16 people, which was family from both my husband and my sides. I spent 2 days preparing the majority of the food - main course (ham & turkey), sides/veggies, 3 desserts so that I didn't have it all to do Easter Sunday. Each family brought something to share and these were small side items such as bread, rolls, and appetizers.

Last night before leaving and without asking, my mother in law and sister in law packed up the majority of the contents of the leftovers out of my refrigerator and took them to my mother in law's home. My sister in law and her family are here from out of town for the week. Basically, they left my family of 4 and my sister and her family of 4 (who is staying with me) with enough for maybe 2 people to eat. My sister is from out of town as well, so we could've eaten leftovers today too.

Am I wrong for feeling a little taken back by this action? I felt it was kinda rude to just start packing up the food without asking. Of course I would've shared some with them anyway, but I would've made sure it was enough for all of us to have a little. Just feeling weird. Please share your thoughts!

Am I wrong for feeling this way?

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So What Happened?

Oh - I mis-spoke - it's my MIL and SIL, not MY mom. haha. I told my mom about it and she is pissed. :)

My husband didn't offer because when he went to get some leftovers last night for a quick sandwich and there was 2 slices of turkey, he was FURIOUS! I told him to take it up with his mom.

I was bathing my son and getting him ready for bed when all the packing up was being done, so I missed out on being there when it was happening. I was "informed" by my MIL that she was taking the food for their dinner tonight. ugh. Oh and they used MY tupperware containers to take it home....

****Thanks All for your support! I think I will chalk this up as lesson learned and next time, I will be prepared and as I clean up the kitchen, I will go ahead and pack her a portion of the leftovers to take home. That way I get to determine how much goes with her.

My husband did stop by her house yesterday to see his brother and family (I had to work), and he said he made a snarky comment to his mom about the food, but she just said that she had to have dinner for Monday night, so why not take it??? He told her that it would've been nice not to take it all as we had guests too, to which she responded that she did leave some. She is just that self centered. Only thinks about herself and what would be easiest for her. Not caring about the fact that my sister and family was here too, and that I would have to cook again. She is some kinda crazy. It just makes me want to cringe now that I will have to see her again, and probably host her ass again for another dinner this week. Trying to figure my way out of that now...


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answers from Miami on

Yikes. How incredibly rude on their part.

My thought has always been (per my mom)... the hostess should offer to send home leftovers with guests IF there are enough to send home, but if the hostess has "sleepover guests"... they are hers to keep!

When my parents have us all at their house on Sunday nights they intentionally make enough for us to take home leftovers for lunch the next day. We all know this and love it. However, if we are there for a holiday, we wait to be offered before taking anything from their house! 99% of the time she offers, but sometimes she has plans for that extra chicken!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

You are not wrong. You do NOT take leftovers from the host's home unless the host offers them to you.
Any food you bring, you leave the leftovers as a thank you to the hostess.
I always ask people if they want to take some leftovers home, especially if I know there is a dish someone particularly likes, but I do NOT ask a host for the leftovers, nor do I pack up a doggie bag for myself without being invited to do so.

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answers from Portland on

The only time that would be okay is if they paid for the food you prepared AND asked to take it from the fridge. How odd. Isn't family funny?! Let it go and learn to be more prepared next time with a plan i guess. As they prep to leave start carving up the meat and dividing up the leftovers so everyone gets their designated bag to take home.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I had about 22 people yesterday.
Everyone left with a BAG of leftovers and we still have a ton.

But who goes into someone else's fridge and takes the food? I find that really odd.
IF that happened to me, I'd be calling my mom and asking when is dinner time at her house today because all of our food seems to be at her house!

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answers from Jacksonville on

Rude. Rude rude rude.

No two ways about it. Rude.

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answers from Columbia on

WOW! How rude!

It might be that they didn't know it was rude...really. My MIL insists that everyone take the leftovers after holiday meals. She packs them up for us. So perhaps your MIL and SIL thought that you wouldn't want to deal with all the food.

BUT they should have ASKED!

I would ask hubs to go get your tupperware back...and all the food in them!

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answers from Dallas on

WOW - that's just freaky. It's your home, your fridge, and you cooked. They needed to ask. Are they always like this? Hubby needs to do this one since it's his family, if you're wanting to say anything. Otherwise, pack it up in YOUR containers ASAP and put it away.

Per your SWH - oh HELL no. Hubby needs to go and get your containers and let them know that they were extremely rude for not asking to take the food, not asking to use your containers, and not leaving enough for your family. I'm glad he was pissed too.

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answers from Boston on

Totally in agreement with you: that was so rude! In fact, as we say in Boston, it was WICKED rude!

Even though you're right, my opinion differs from some of the other commenters who have posted here. I wouldn't make a big deal out of this issue, if you can avoid it. If the opportunity comes up to say something in an off-hand, casual kind of "I was kind of surprised when..." way, take it. Other than that, let it go. As a poster recently said "that's not a hill you want to die on." These women are family so you can't really avoid them. Pick your battles.

On the other hand, I would totally keep this in he back of my head & try to head off this kind of nasty mooching in the future. Some people have given great ideas here.

Good for you for not marching over this evening, sitting yourself down at your MIL's kitchen table & saying you're ready for the dinner she swiped from your house!

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answers from St. Louis on

Are you sure your husband didn't say take whatever you want? Not that you will probably get an honest answer from him mind you. My husband always says stuff like that because he assumes everyone is like him and wouldn't take more than a bit.

Anyway, sans my husband giving away the house, we pack to gos as we clean up and whoever owns the house is part of the process.

I don't think you are wrong for feeling like you do but I would check with your husband to see what he told them....

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answers from New York on

hahaha same thing happened here. we hosted my husband's family. him and i did all the food shopping and cooking except for pies. his mom came on friday and baked 3 pies. well yesterday as they were all leaving (driving distance between 3 and 8 hrs), and the mil started packing the pies for the rest of the family (except us). i smiled about it, i thought it was so effing weird hahaha but what can you do.

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answers from Grand Forks on

When you are a guest you only take whatever is left over from what you brought, unless something else is offered. I will sometimes offer to fix a plate of leftovers for my guests, if I have more than my family will be using. When I am the guest I will usually offer the host the leftover portion of what I brought, just so I don't have to take it back home. I have a couple of times asked my SIL if I might bring a plate home to my husband if he was working and couldn't come, although I'm sure she would have offered anyway. I would never think of helping myself to someone else's leftovers!

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answers from New York on

Yes they were totally out of line to help themselves to the leftovers without asking. I hosted 15 for Easter yesterday and as I was putting stuff away I portioned out stuff for both my daughter's families and my mom. It was my choice what to share and how much.

Mention this to your mom so it doesn't happen again.

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answers from Norfolk on

People should not take your leftovers without asking.
People can ask, but you don't have to say yes.
I'd be upset with your Mom and SIL for absconding with the food.
But then I would have said something when they began packing things up.
"Hey! We've got company staying with us this week and I'm planning to feed them with this. Sorry but <a small bag> is all I can spare. Let me put it together for you." and then they can grumble all they want.
A little taken aback?
You were robbed!
Your fridge was raided!
I'd be outright pissed.
The thing to do is to visit your Mom several times during this week (with your company) and SHE can feed them and you for a meal or two.

Ah- your MIL.
Ok, -all of you - show up early at her house for dinner tonight.
Thank her for 'storing' it over at her place.
Help yourself to any of her 'leftovers' (and take your tupper ware back).
Be sure to give her a cheery 'Toodle Loo!' with a little wave as you head out her door.
She ought to be just FINE with this seeing as you'll only be following her example!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I will bring home the leftovers of whatever I brought if they are still in my serving dish. If the hostess has moved them to her own container than I assume that she wishes to keep them and do not ask for them back.

I never take leftovers unless they are offered and only take what is offered.

As for when I am the hostess...I expect to be able to decide which foods they take home and what quantity.

I find it incredibly rude that they would help themselves without asking.

Since it is your husband's family let him have that discussion with them.

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answers from New York on

Wow, that is unbelievably rude! In my family, everyone takes back what they brought, which leaves us with very unbalanced leftovers. But this situation is just beyond the pale wrong.

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answers from Victoria on

No! My jaw dropped. We usually have the opposite problem...PLEASE TAKE FOOD. Are you sure they did not ask the husband ??? We usually pack up several dishes and send them home.
This year we made chili for Easter lunch. Were trying to become a one pot family. Christmas we had mexican food but it was still over board with the lot of food. We all leave though there isnt family for a week. Thats money ,food for the week. I would be upset. Would I say anything...nope. Not till next time when I saw what they were doing and say "Hey we have a house full for the next week. Please leave us enough to ffed them but feel free to take a plate!!! or what you brought."

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answers from Los Angeles on

They should of asked and they should Not of taken all of it. I always share my leftovers at family holidays, but everyone takes some not most. Next year stop them in the act and politely tell them to just take a little that you want to share with everyone.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Yes, that was super rude and weird. As a guest, I only take home what I brought. A guest should never "go through" someone's fridge and pantry!

Maybe next time, I would be proactive since you can anticipate they will take all the leftovers, and ask if they would like some leftovers and then bag them up yourself so you can make sure you still get to hold on to some for your family.

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answers from Lancaster on

Oh, heck no. I host many holidays for DH's family. I do all the cooking - from scratch. I got burned once on MIL and SIL packing up the left-overs to take home for themselves without asking. Now I make sure I pack the food up and put it away in my fridge as soon as dinner is over.

These are the same family members who "volunteer" to bring something for the holiday and show up with 2 day old stale bread and a coconut cream pie on Thanksgiving instead of the apple pie they said they'd bring - because the coconut cream pie was on sale. I've also seen them bring boxed mashed potatoes to someone else's house on a holiday - sorry, gross. Call me judgmental (and I love MIL), but putting a holiday dinner together takes a couple of weeks for me. I have a bad back and I have to do divide up the tasks so I don't over strain myself. I'm exhausted and in pain for up to a week afterwards. There's no way I'm running a restaurant and having able bodied people take my left-overs home. I've spent as much as $400 doing a holiday dinner. Sorry, but I'm keeping the leftovers. I have, of course, sent leftovers home with the resident bachelor or single person who joined us for a holiday. I would never take food home from someone's house unless they insisted.

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answers from Washington DC on

Wow. You are NOT wrong for feeling that way! I also hosted Easter dinner yesterday for my family. Of course, we had zero leftovers except for the ham. But I bought that $50 ham, and I packed up the leftovers and put them in my fridge! I have all sorts of plans for that ham!! I can't wait to make some great soups. If my family had helped themselves and left me with nothing, I'd be pissed too!!

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answers from Atlanta on

NO you are not wrong for feeling this way! I would have been furious too....it was very rude of your MIL not too ask for some leftovers first and even worse that she just helped herself to almost everything! It's a sticky situation and I really don't know if it's worth risking bad feelings between family members to say something about it!

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm right there with ya. i do all the cooking so i get to decide what leftovers i want! i always put together a nice packet of leftovers to any family members who want to take stuff home, but i'd be pretty shocked if someone took it upon themselves to abscond with all my leftovers! i've got PLANS for that stuff!

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answers from New York on

I would be mad too! What we have starting doing with my husband's family is whoever is hosting buys a bunch of the tinfoil or throw away tupperware containers and during cleanup just asks everyone what they may eat leftover. We put the names on them and everyone just grabs their leftovers when they leave. It works nicely!

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answers from Peoria on

Yes, the host keeps the left overs - of course! Eventhough everyone brought something the host is the one who really does all the work, so unless the host offers to send them home with someone else, then it's totally TACKY!

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answers from New York on

That is ballsy. I would never take anything nor would I ask. If someone offered and I knew there was plenty, I might take enough for a lunch or dinner. Yesterday my DIL told me to pack up some food, but I declined because my 9 month old granddaughter has croup and pneumonia and there are three older kids. They need to just pull something out, heat and eat. Your MIL and SIL have no class.

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answers from Houston on

Bless you, bless you...so glad your husband addressed it. Not to turn you into a control freak, but can you establish things in your house where nobody would do that without checking with you? My people know that I am so particular that they would ask what they could take, if I had other plans for it and find out which containers are okay to use. Also, it's customary to expect to come back to the host's house for another day's worth of eating with visitors, isn't it?? That's the way I grew up.

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answers from Denver on

I would be pissed! I think you get to take home what you brought, and anything the hostess offers you from what THEY prepared. That's it. Everything else is HANDS OFF!

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answers from Athens on

WOW, that was rude! When my family and my brother's family get together for holidays, my sil and I share the responsibilty of cooking the meal. We both do a meat and then our specialities. We both do desserts. What I bring to her house, I leave for her family as leftovers. I bring enough with that in mind. And she cooks enough for me to take some of her dishes home with me. I also cook plenty so that have some of my dishes for my family too.

Your hubby need to talk to your inlaws about this if you plan on doing this regularly. Otherwise you will feel very resentful and not want to do it.

I would be upset if this happened to me as well.

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answers from Spartanburg on

No, you're not wrong. And if your husband is anything like mine, he will definitely say something to his family. I think you need to let him take care of it. In the mean time, think ahead to how you'll handle the next holiday you host when the in-laws kidnap the leftovers. If your husband says something to his mom, then she will probably make a point of asking next time, so prepare a response. Or you could say to your MIL (still eating dinner) "can I pack you some leftovers to take home?" In either case, make it clear that you plan on using the leftovers yourself.

You could also make some passive-aggressive comments to the in-laws under the guise of being ignorant of how much they took. Such as: "I'm going to have to make more food next holiday- I thought we'd have a ton of leftovers but we hardly had anything even to snack on" or "we were planning on having leftovers on Monday but there wasn't enough so we had to order pizza. Guess we all ate more than I thought we would on Sunday." Etc.

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answers from Los Angeles on

You aren't wrong. That is BEYOND rude to grab the food and not even ask.

I'd have my husband call his mom and ask what time dinner is!

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answers from Redding on

What a selfish thing to do!
Seriously, I would never have dared to do that.

You have every right to be mad, in my opinion.
Since your husband was equally pissed, I think he should say something to his mother. She was only thinking of her own household and guests when it was your household who had prepared and hosted the meal. Your own household also had guests to feed. I also feel your MIL and SIL took advantage of the fact that you were bathing your son and not there to know what they were doing.

Like I said....totally selfish. Totally thoughtless. Totally inappropriate.

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answers from Chicago on

I would be super pissed off! So pissed that i wouldn't be hosting them again.

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