Who Keeps the Leftovers?

Recently I’ve discovered that two of my favorite things are in direct conflict with each other. Or so it seems.

Thing 1:love leftovers. I’ve known this for many, many years. When I was growing up, I often ate leftover dinner food for breakfast. In my 20s, I loved making enough food for several meals so I’d have leftovers. And whenever I go to a restaurant, I try to eat only 30-50% of the food on my plate so I get multiple meals out of it. I even take home leftover popcorn from the movie theater–it’s still good for several days!

Thing 2: I love paying for friends when I go out to eat. It’s one of my few indulgences. It makes me happy, and I don’t go out to eat all that often, so it’s not a huge expense.

You might be able to see the conflict here. When I go out to eat with friends and cover the bill, my friends–none of whom asked for me to pay for them–take their leftovers home. As they should.

But…I want their leftovers. I want to eat them with my mouth. I really do.

So here’s what I’m wondering: Who owns the leftovers? The person who ordered the food or the person who paid for the food?

To take it a step further, is there any socially acceptable scenario where I can continue to pay for friends’ meals but also expect to keep their leftovers? Or do the two ideas clash too much?

I actually feel a little guilty even suggesting the idea that I keep someone else’s leftovers, even though I paid for them. Is there some truth behind that guilt? I’m curious to hear what you think.