For much of my life, despite some studies proclaiming it unnecessary and even unhealthy, I've been a member of the clean plate club.

My parents emigrated from Vietnam and settled in the Midwest with little money. Saving every penny counted. To this day, my mom will bring home one tiny chicken wing from a restaurant if she doesn't finish it.

So I'm not quite as bad as her, but I go crazy when I see food being wasted - especially in culinary school.

Granted family meal at the French Culinary Institute can be hit-and-miss, I almost always take home a quart container or two of food. For a student on a budget, this is great. I'll have lunch and even dinner for the next day.

How many people can say they're eating seared duck breasts with a side of beluga lentils? I certainly don't mind.

Our school does teach us about not wasting as much as possible. We save potato, mushroom, carrot and celery trimmings to name a few. But when it comes to family meal, I've seen pans of rice and legs of baked chicken tossed in the trash. Oh how my heart aches every time that happens! It just makes me wonder aloud, "Why aren't other students taking home food?" Most of my classmates just stare at me when I carry home all that food.

A lot of times they say they can't eat it all. Some don't like leftovers. Others are cooking a lot at home.

Whatever the reason, I know why a lot of times I feel that I "live to eat."