Helping Yourself to my Leftovers?

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

Every year we host Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We have a lot of family members on both sides who come over, and provide the majority of the food. What bothers me is my mother-in-law always brings containers and helps herself to the left over food! Creating other dishes with leftovers is a big part of my meal planning each week, and I can get a lot of use out of them with my family of six. I get so mad every time, and do not know how to politely tell her that it is not okay to take the food home. 

Trying to be Polite Daughter-in-Law

Dear Trying to be Polite Daughter-in-Law,

You have every right to keep your leftovers at Thanksgiving. Even if your mother-in-law brought the majority of the food, once she brings it to your home, it is yours. Is it possible to have your mother or a family member on either side of your families nicely mention to her that you do a lot with the leftovers, and you need them for your large family? If not, you could even initiate a discussion at the table about how you will use the leftover food, and how it will help you greatly in your week. Then mention how you appreciate everyone’s understanding of being selfish about keeping the food. If your mother-in-law still gets out her containers, grab them and tell her you will fill them for her. Send her in the other room to “relax,” or have a child close by who wants to show grandma something in his room. Then give her the containers back in a grocery bag as she is leaving. Then get her out the door before she can inspect how much she got, and complains about not getting a lot this year.