Contrary to popular belief, you don’t get the most out of a buffet restaurant by simply “eating all you can”. If you’re just stuffing yourself as fast as possible with as much as possible, you’ll end up with a stomachache and with a supremely bloated feeling. Not too mention the added calories and pounds. There’s a certain art to eating in buffet restaurants, and it’s an art that when mastered, really gives you the best of what you’re paying for.
You have to remember that if there’s one thing you can count on in a buffet restaurant, it’s the quantity of the food. You will have many offerings to choose from – too many, even. In terms of the variety that you get, this differs from one buffet restaurant to another. Some will take you to a tour around the world as they give you stations upon stations of different cuisines, yet some choose to focus on one type of cuisine and just give you options from there.
If you want to really make the most of your time and money though, these are the tips you should remember:
Do your homework, or do an initial sweep.
Eat-all-you-can buffets can get overwhelming, and that’s thanks to the sheer volume of food you’ll be faced with. There will also be hundreds of options, and you can’t possibly consume them all. So it’s best to do your homework and find out what this particular buffet offers beforehand.
You can do this by going online and checking out their offerings, or reading reviews of how other people enjoyed the buffet when they visited. Another way to do this is when you arrive, don’t get a plate and fill it up right away. Shop around first and look at the different stations, surveying what’s available and deciding on what you want to try.
It’s not possible to completely avoid starch, but as much as possible, lay off the starchy food. This is a sure way to make you full and bloated even before you get to the mains, so just stay away from the starch and you’ll be much happier for it.
Stick to water.
When you’re eating that much food, you’ll need to flush it down with liquid. Drinking during a buffet is important, but be careful not to overdo it. In fact, if you can, stick to table water. Avoid ordering juices, sodas, and even alcohol because this will only make you feel fuller. Water is a good way to hydrate yourself and keep you going.
In some buffets, you can also order house tea. Chinese buffets know this all too well, and having hot tea together with what you’re eating is also a good way to keep yourself from getting bloated and becoming too full too fast.
The more the merrier.
Portioning is key when you’re eating at a buffet, because you want to be able to try as much variety as possible. You can’t do this if you stuff your plate with the first pasta dish that you see. Just go for sample-sized portions of everything, so that you get to try a lot.
Just remember that if you have a particularly sensitive stomach, you should also be careful in mixing too much food together, especially if they react to each other. Your stomach will grumble for sure.
Go for the special treats.
Pick the dishes that you don’t normally eat at home, and the dishes that you know are expensive. Go for the lobster, the prawns, and the salmon instead of the chicken fingers. If you’re going to a buffet with an international cuisine, then this is also the perfect time to try out dishes that you would never encounter otherwise.
Pacing is key.
You may get too excited as soon as you enter a buffet, to the point that you just eat everything as fast as you can. Don’t stuff your stomach full in the first 5 minutes, before you’ve even gone through all the stations. It’s best to take your time and take small portions at once, so you really get to savor every single thing.
Prepare for the battle.
Think of a buffet as a battle that you need to prepare for. You will only get the most of it if you’re prepared, so it’s best if you take a walk or exercise a few days before to keep your metabolism up. This doesn’t mean you should starve yourself before going to an eat-all-you-can buffet, which is a common misconception and is only counterproductive. Don’t stuff yourself either, but don’t go there super hungry.
This also goes without saying that it’s best if your stomach or bowels are empty, if you know what I mean.