When you share dinner with a friend, who gets the leftovers? We asked an etiquette expert.


Ordering for a group just makes sense: You get to try more dishes, hopefully eat a more balanced meal and maybe even save some money when you all split the check evenly.

But if your feast for two or four or seven isn't finished, who gets to take the leftovers home? An equal split would be ideal, but if there's only enough for each person to take home a bite or two, that seems kind of silly, right? 

So who gets to take the leftovers home if everyone wants them? What's a fair and diplomatic way to share that last drumstick you all paid for? 

Warren Price Photography/Shutterstock

First, consider the situation. Jodi R.R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting points out that if you're at a meeting with clients, an interview or on a first date, you should probably just leave the leftovers. But read the room — if you're with people who may be hyperaware of food waste, you may want to test the waters before you leave half a fish doomed for the dumpster. 

Everyone cool with taking home food? Great! 

If your leftovers can't be split evenly, etiquette coach Maggie Oldham says the polite thing to do is to let your dining companion choose what they'd like to take home. If that's everything, fine. Don't sweat it — you get to eat fresh food tomorrow!