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Tip whether you eat in or out

By on December 22, 2008

tip jar
photo by p200eric
DEAR SARA: This one always puzzles me. Do you tip on food items that you get to go? — Stella, California

DEAR STELLA: Yes, I tip even on to-go orders. There is a person putting together my order and taking time away from his or her dine-in customers. Some restaurants might require their wait staff to place money into a share pool on to-go orders. I won’t necessarily tip as much as I would if I were a dine-in customer, but I make a point to tip regardless of my frugality. Many restaurant workers are accustomed to not receiving tips on to-go orders, so even if you give only a couple of dollars, I’m sure it will be appreciated. I tend to lean toward around 15 percent but have tipped more and have tipped less on carryout orders depending on the establishment from which I’m ordering food and how large my order is.

Do you tip for to go orders?

DEAR SARA: How do I use meat as a side dish and not as the main course? I’m always reading about how it can be a side, but I can’t come up with any examples of this. — Tammy, Virginia

DEAR TAMMY: My husband is a meat-and-potatoes guy, so I understand how it can be difficult to think of meat as a side. I’ve managed cutting our portions of meat with a little creativity. Consider soups and casseroles and how meat is a small portion of those types of meals. Also, if you’re used to using ground beef, instead of serving meatloaf, meatballs in spaghetti sauce or burgers, try meals such as stuffed peppers and veggies such as zucchini and eggplant in marinara or cabbage rolls. If you enjoy steak, try cutting it into thin strips for stir fry or cubed for stroganoff. If you enjoy chicken, try chicken and biscuits or chicken fajitas. For pork, try pork fried rice. Hope this helps you get started.

How do you use meat as a side dish?

DEAR SARA: During the summer, I grew an abundance of garden tomatoes. I didn’t know what to do with them, so I gave most of them away. How do I freeze them if I have another big crop next year? — Holly, New York

DEAR HOLLY: You were a lucky duck to have a lot of tomatoes. You can enjoy them all winter long if you freeze them uncooked or blanched. You can’t really go wrong, because they can be uncooked and frozen whole, sliced, diced, chopped or pureed. For whole and uncooked tomatoes, wash them, core them, and pop them into a plastic baggie or freezer-safe container. When ready to use, run them under warm water if you want to remove the peel. They’ll slip right off.
You can also blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute and then place them into a large bowl of ice water. Core them, and the skins will slip off easily. You can then cut them in half or quarters to remove the seeds. You can squeeze them or spoon them out. You might want to consider draining excess water off at this point. It’s optional. Place into a plastic baggie or freezer-safe containers. If you’re using plastic freezer baggies, press out the air. I like to have them as flat as possible for easier stacking in the freezer. This is a messy job, so try and be organized with bowls, tools, paper towels and freezer containers. Don’t expect your tomatoes to defrost in perfect condition for salads; however, they will be great for soups, stews and sauces.

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