How to Eat Well at a Buffet: A Sensible Guide

Rochelle spends as much time in the kitchen as she does at a keyboard. It's no surprise that cooking and food are favorite article subjects.

Nine Tips for a Good Buffet Experience

Many restaurants offer an "all you can eat" buffet meal with a set price. It can be a good value, especially if you stay aware of what you are eating.

These restaurants can make money because they normally need fewer employees than a traditional eatery. They don't need servers to take orders and wait tables. Employees are expensive.

As a veteran eater of many endless buffets, I have some recommendations to help you make the most of your buffet experience. The tips below could help you avoid some of the "mistakes" that many buffet diners make.

Buffets Are Nothing New

Pieter Breugal the Elder painted this peasant wedding feast complete with unlimited porridge pies and bagpipes, in 1567.

Pieter Breugal the Elder painted this peasant wedding feast complete with unlimited porridge pies and bagpipes, in 1567.

Getting Started

1. Don't starve yourself before going to the buffet.

Meals eaten earlier in the day should be light and moderate. If you are planning to eat a lot at the buffet, you should be hydrated, so drink water beforehand. Proper digestion requires water. Gassy soda drinks or alcohol will not improve your buffet adventure.

2. Get an overview.

When you arrive at the dining venue, salads are usually right up front. Fresh raw vegetables are good for you, but if you are getting a lot of filling iceberg lettuce and hard bread croutons, you might be full before you get to the seafood and prime rib. If you look around and know what is ahead, you can focus on the "good stuff." (More about salads later.)

3. Take small portions.

If the buffet has unlimited refills as most do, you can always go back. You don't want to get stuck with a large serving of macaroni and cheese that doesn't taste as good as it looks.

4. Watch the starch.

Dishes like potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread are inexpensive and filling (like the iceberg lettuce) the restaurant hopes you take a lot of these inexpensive items so you have less room for the more expensive offerings.

Getting Into It

5. Choose foods that you do not cook at home for yourself.

I saw a man at a rather pricey breakfast buffet with a plate piled high with scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. He completely skipped the smoked salmon with caviar, fresh mangoes and papaya, grilled trout with sautéed mushrooms, and the cream cheese cherry blintzes.

So, you say, bacon and toast was what he liked, but why pay 35 bucks for something you could get at the nearby diner for $2.99?

6. Try to eat slowly and don't overeat.

I know this is a tough one, almost impossible, but you can suffer later if you don't use a little selectivity and restraint.

Taking a probiotic capsule, drinking some herbal tea, or using your favorite digestive aid might be a good idea. Sit still for a moment. Take a few deep breaths and wait at least a minute or two before going back for the refill.

You CAN have it all, but try not to.

The Buffet Song

7. Be selective.

This is the time for a little self-restraint. Try to be aware of which foods are way, way, way too high in calories and fat.

The challenge is in trying to eat only things that are good for you. When there is a wide selection, you should be able to do it. The "bad" things should at least be in much smaller portions.

If you are gulping down quarts of soft drinks and piling up french fries on your plate and starting on your third serving of chili, you might be abusing the buffet experience. Remember, too, the sodas are full of filling gas.

Try a Serving of Common Sense

8. Clean your plate.

It is considered bad manners to leave buffet food uneaten on your plate, so choose carefully. The unwritten rule is "you take it, you eat it," so make sure it is something you really want.

Of course, there are times when one certain food does not meet your expectations, and that is understandable. If one particular thing tastes a little "off" or is not what you thought it was, it is reasonable to push it aside.

Some of the "bargain buffets" will charge you extra (by weight) for wasted food. Of course, "doggie bags" are not acceptable at all-you-can-eat venues. Bones, shells and other inedible parts are exempt from the rule.


Finishing Up

9. Desserts to Die For

Buffet desserts are usually small portions, but this is still the most dangerous part of a buffet experience. Some people are determined to sample all of them. (Bad idea.)

The fat and sugar calories can be staggering. This is the most imoprtant place to practice self control even if you have failed up to this point.

A little frozen yogurt might be good for digestion, or maybe some fresh fruit if you need something sweet.

You will feel more virtuous if you resist, especially if you have already eaten enough for a week. (Oops, someone saw me take that chocolate thing.)

Not All Buffets Are Created Equal

There are many kinds of buffets, ranging from the luxury hotel Sunday brunch to the bargain "hometown" diners. The best thing about all of them is that you can actually see what you will eat before your plate hits the table. Here are some types you may encounter:

Other Types of Buffets

In a Casino

These are often the best bargain for your money, with a good and varied selection of food. You can go select your prime rib and seafood dinner with fresh vegetables and special side dishes at a much lower price than you would pay at a top restaurant for a comparable meal.

I believe these buffets are designed to make you so full and satisfied that you will subsequently sit on a stool and feed money to a slot machine for endless hours. You may not feel hungry until well past another two full mealtimes.

Casino Buffets are often very affordable. In fact, casinos probably make no money at all on their buffets because their main purpose is to get you inside the building to gamble.

You may feel so bad about eating so much for such a small price, that you rationalize the need to feed the slots. This bargain meal could get expensive.

Invariably casino buffet diners have to pass through the gaming area to reach the eating area. This is no accident. Be advised that children may not be allowed.

Asian Buffets

These are generally a good value as far as price and nutrition. Overall, Asian food traditions are healthier than most Western menus. Lots of vegetables, seafood with vegetables and tasty bits of meat with veggies are often found.

Meat is often used as more of a condiment than a main ingredient, but it can be very tasty and satisfying, as well as being fresh and healthful.

Any dairy products will be minimal or absent, so there won't be high calorie cream sauces or gravies. You can almost feel virtuous stuffing yourself at these places, especially if you go easy on batter-coated, deep fried selections.

The Farmhouse Slant

There is a buffet restaurant called Hodel's in Bakersfield, California that is one of a kind. It is a family-owned business which has been in existence for many years. On the weekends they serve thousands of people a day, yet the place seems rather small and cozy.

They have the buffet thing down, and their prices are reasonable. The place is clean, bright and comfortable, and the selection is great. Located in the southern end of of the Central Valley, California's great agricultural area, Hodel's takes full advantage of the great variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products produced locally. If you are traveling through Bakersfield, California, it's worth stopping at Hodel's.

The Grand Sunday Brunch-- The Majestic Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Pricey , but delicious.

The Grand Sunday Brunch-- The Majestic Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. Pricey , but delicious.

Big Hotel Sunday Brunch

Large hotels often feature a Sunday Brunch served buffet style. It may include champagne and feature gourmet dishes including fresh sea foods like smoked salmon, crab legs, oysters and shrimp.

Tenaya Lodge Resort, near the South entrance to Yosemite National Park in California, has a few special occasion brunches during the year (Mother's Day and Easter, for instance) which has fabulous food, ice sculptures, fresh flowers and live music. I think you will pay more than $30 per person, champagne is included, and reservations are recommended.

If you want to go beyond this, and eat in a beautiful National Landmark, you can try the Majestic Yosemite Hotel Sunday brunch in Yosemite Valley. Again, you will find fabulous food in a spectacular setting. Last time I checked it was $45 per person (with NO champagne included).

[Since I first wrote this, I have visited both again. Though both are still quite good in quality, I think they have cut back quite a bit on their offerings. Check websites before you visit.]


The Chain Restaurant Variety

This is usually the most affordable buffet. Depend on a filling "home-style" meal with potatoes, gravy and fried chicken, meat loaf, ribs, perhaps some Mexican dishes as well as many other entrees.

Their salad bar (mentioned earlier) looks enticing, colorful, cruciferous, and healthy. As previously noted, the salad bar is up front where patrons encounter it first, before seeing the entrees. After you have looked over the whole site, chose a salad that is limited to a few of the best ingredients.

My favorite choice is a small bunch of spinach leaves, some raw cauliflower and broccoli, red onions, pickled beets black olives with oil and vinegar dressing and some sunflower seeds.

With that combination I have a bunch of superfoods, all of them good for me, and I'm still leaving room for more carefully selected good stuff. (And this helps me justify the chocolate thing I will choose at the end.)

Look for freshness with deep color veggies. I will skip the jello cubes, iceberg lettuce, bacon bits, potato salad, creamy dressings and a lot of other things. If the tomatoes look ripe and fresh, I might add them. Perhaps the fresh fruit will be good, too.

I have found this particular buffet has a lot of dishes I can easily pass up. I'm not too fond of meatloaf or gravy-- too many possibilities for mystery ingredients. Their broiled chicken and fish is fine. The soups are pretty good, but this is one place where the salad may be the best part.

The Pizza Buffet

Some pizza chains offer an unlimited buffet for about eight dollars. It usually includes a salad bar, pizzas with several kinds of toppings, a beverage and some twisted up garlic bread sticks and gooey cinnamon twists.

It's probably best to skip the dough twists, since there's no way they could have any nutritionally redeeming value, plus you are already getting dough with the pizza even if they have a thin crust.

The strategy, again, is selecting the best of the salad bar, and planning for the pizza slices of your choice after an overview. The slices are cut narrow and there might be up to 10 different choices. There are vegetarian varieties, ham and pineapple, chicken garlic alfredo, plus some of the more traditional combinations. I personally minimize the salami, pepperoni and sausage, looking for the chicken and veggie selections. The one we visit occasionally takes a request for the next pizza to hit the buffet (chicken garlic, veggie) and will bring it to your table for the first choice.

The beverages are mostly soft drinks, lemonade or sweet tea in the usual fast food drink fountains. Tap beer may be available for an extra charge. If you are going for pizza with several other people, it gives the advantage of letting everyone choose their favorite kinds.

Invite a few friends in-- Make them wear color-coordinated clothes-- Ask them to bring their favorite dish.

Invite a few friends in-- Make them wear color-coordinated clothes-- Ask them to bring their favorite dish.

Some Additional Thoughts

  • Don't go to any of these in a starved mode: It will be harder to eat slowly and semi-sensibly if you have skipped a meal or two before picking up the buffet plate.
  • Get an overview of the offerings before loading up on the first thing you see. Remember to avoid "over-enjoying." If you do, you will be miserable later, especially with fried or rich dishes.
  • Try something you wouldn't cook for yourself, or to eat something that the rest of your family doesn't like-- perhaps a chance to find out if you really like oysters.
  • Stage your own buffet: Maybe the best idea is to plan your own easily served buffet party. Ask everyone to bring something to share and make it a party with people you enjoy visiting with.

If you eat like this three or four times a year at the most, that is probably plenty. When you go to an unlimited buffet, you will certainly see many people who have visited far too often.

Keep some of these things in mind, and learn to enjoy it even more with just a bit of restraint.

How Will Buffets Change Post-Pandemic?

Will the standard approach to buffets be affected by the global pandemic? I hope full buffets will return one day, but I suspect there may be some changes.

I remember a prime rib restaurant in my old hometown that used a cafeteria-style approach. You made your choices as you moved down the line, but servers on the other side of a glass shield were the ones who actually handled the serving utensils, and they would do the dishing-out. This is probably a more sanitary way to serve, rather than having all of the customers touching the same serving utensils. Perhaps buffet-style eateries of the future will adopt a similar system.

Questions & Answers

Question: What's the point of going to a buffet if you're health conscious?

Answer: If you are on a very restricted diet, you probably don't go. If you are with a group of friends who want you to go, you have a choice. You can stay home, or you can go and be selective as to your choices. If they offer a lot of fresh raw choices and you know how to eat healthy you might just go for the socialization.

Question: How do you get food in a garde manger buffet?

Answer: I guess that would depend upon the management of the restaurant. I would think the cold food buffet would usually have the same organization as any other, with customers taking a plate and making their selections.


Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 29, 2020:

Running a successful restaurant is a difficult job, made even harder by today’s circumstances. I’m afraid the buffet may become a much rarer experience with all the new restrictions.

S.shafique.A. on May 28, 2020:

It's very wast knowledge you have madam.i appreciate.my best wishes to you and all.we are in small restaurant in place call Bombay .one of the oldest restaurant in South Bombay . called Bagdadi restaurant.please happy to serve all.thanks by.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 13, 2018:

Thanks! I have done a lot of research over the years. Now that I am older, I am finding that my appetite is smaller and I am following my own suggestions more closely. When you have a wide choice -- choose the best.

Aadityan R on September 13, 2018:

Well Researched and Well Said!!

Will try you strategy soon :) :)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 23, 2017:

If nothing else, it's a good test of will power. Thank for your sensible comment.

gajanis from Pakistan on September 22, 2017:

Very good informative hub. I have seen people overeating at these buffets just to get most out of the money paid, but suffer badly afterwards vis-a-vis health issues. So I agree with you, one should eat sensibly. Thank you.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on January 06, 2017:

Thanks for the comment, Glenn Stok. It takes some of us a while to learn. Sounds like you are doing it right.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on January 05, 2017:

I eat at buffets many times. It's a great way to get together with a large group of friends. I'm an unusual character though. I like to eat healthy and I seek out only the healthy things. I stay away from deep fried foods at buffets, and I avoid the sweet desserts. For my last plate, I go for the fresh fruits.

I found your hub very interesting, because I observe some of my friends making all the mistakes you talk about when we eat out.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 17, 2016:

Do some research and check out the prices before you go. Some of the super fancy ones are still a little pricey.

The very luxurious Vegas casinos are especially competing for the high-rollers who can afford to spend a lot. I'm sure there are bargains to be had.. but you might not find the best buffet prices at Bellagio , Luxor or Caesar's Palace. Check around and I'm sure you will find some bargains.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 08, 2016:

Yes, It is a great experience in practicing self control. I am really not a "big" eater, and used to feel really awful after participating in this type of meal. I learned to be more "choosy" and enjoy the experience more now that I exercise selectivity.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 12, 2013:

Yes,tmouse1, it can be a test of willpower-- an endless tableful of temptations. With so many choices we should be able to find enough 'good' things in between the forbidden fruits. Thank you for reading and commenting.

tmouse1 on March 12, 2013:

Love this hub! I am not a fan of buffets, but it does amaze me to watch people eat at them. Too many choices! Although I will say it is a good place to test your resolve in keeping your diet.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 20, 2012:

I knew I forgot a category. There used to be a Swedish Smorgasbord in Santa Barbara-- which was quite reasonably priced. Meatballs, potato salad and pickled herring-- it was not a chain, so they made all of their own stuff which was quite good. Thanks for commenting, Sherry Hewins.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on July 19, 2012:

This reminds me of when my family used to go to the Smorgasbord when we were kids. My brother would have his whole meal planned out to get the maximum bang for the buck. Thanks for bringing it all back. Voted up and funny.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 19, 2012:

After reading the poll results, it seems that the Asian buffets rate highest. Most of these places have a genius for making small tasty bits of expensive protein into tasty and filling dishes with a variety of sauces and vegetables.

In the US it might not be quite authentic to the original dishes, but the recipes have a similar strategy.

Oh this is awful, now I have made myself crave Chinese food.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 04, 2012:

Thank you, Princess. We all give in to the temptation now and then. It was a delicious comment.

princesswithapen on March 03, 2012:

"As a veteran eater of many endless buffets..." Haha, love the introduction to a humorous hub that has now made me hungry. Although a big fan, follower and believer of healthy eating habits, myself and a few friends make a trip to the local all-you-can-eat buffet every once in a while. I've never said this before, but this hub made for a yummy read!


Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 31, 2011:

Thanks, JamaGenee. If you can't find at least 25 different vegetables at the Chinese buffet, they have failed you :) .

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on May 31, 2011:

Never thought about it, but an Oriental buffet IS mostly vegetables. Maybe why #4 Daughter, the vegetarian, liked them so much???... ;D

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 30, 2011:

It seems like the "Yelpers" either think it is great or are deeply disappointed. Maybe its a matter of expectations. Also it looks like the price has gone up again. It's worth going in just to look around. Picnic lunches are always a good alternative.

Thanks for all your kind comments, ahostagesituation, I won't try to convert you to buffetism.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 30, 2011:

Hi, JamaGenee.

You can go back and unread this hub, because you've got the right idea. You may need to practice a bit more on the Oriental buffet, but like I said, it's mostly vegetables. Right?

SJ on May 30, 2011:

Oh, I think the wine and sandwiches idea is way better. And no heels? That could work. The only times I've spent that kind of money on breakfast, heels were a must. I do love Yosemite though. I went once with my dad when he was out visiting me when I was working in San Diego, and later with friends. Truly euphoric place.

IF you see a girl eating a cliff bar NEAR a buffet, wave, it's probably me. ;-). I think where I live now is about 2 hours or so from Yosemite. Hope to get there again one day before the year ends. I'll see what they're saying on yelp about that buffet!

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on May 30, 2011:

Rochelle, thanks for reminding me of the strategy I used when a friend was hungry for a certain buffet's food (her treat). I'd head straight for the steak grill for a chunk of medium rare (not something I can fix to my liking at home), add a small helping of bourbon chicken, a few marinated mushrooms and a little of whatever was fresh on the seafood bar. By the time my friend got to our table with a plateful of salad, baked potato with all the fixin's and whatever else caught her eye, I'd be nearly done with the steak. By then I was almost full, so I rarely went back for more. Was saving room for the to-die-for bread pudding and MAYBE a brownie. She never did "get" that "buffet" doesn't mean eat EVERYTHING, only that you can pick and choose from a large variety of dishes you might not know you were hungry for when you walked in the door. Nor did I feel guilty that I hadn't eaten "enough" to justify the price. A steak dinner anywhere else would've cost much more - before dessert.

That said, I'm hopeless at any oriental buffet. I'll be the one with a plate in each hand, piled high with bits of everything offered. And WILL go back for seconds!

And yes, you're right about casino buffets. They're not meant to make a profit, only get you in the door, with banks of slot machines and tables between you and the food. Full-time residents of casino towns know this and frequent them often, without being tempted to leave more than the cost of the meal going in or coming out!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 30, 2011:

That buffet at the Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, does have a lot of good stuff. The price is more about being inside a national landmark and looking out the tall windows at Yosemite Falls.

Also since a lot of people are wearing hiking garb-- heels are in no way required.

On the other hand, since we live near to Yosemite, we have taken a picnic basket with wine and sandwiches to eat while looking at the falls from a meadow. We always visit the hotel, though to use the lovely historic restrooms, which are 10,000 times better than the public campground toilets.

SJ on May 30, 2011:

I was with you, great job on buffet strategies. And I can't believe that brunch buffet is 48 dollars and doesn't include champagne...for food you have to go hunt and gather yourself? No, luxury hotel, if I'm gonna stand in line for food, I'm not doing it in heels. I want to wear my orphan clothes, and say something to the tune of, 'please sir, I want some more...' And "refills" on food kinda gave me a "mucousy gravy" stomach. Oh man, it seems, I haven't been won over. But I SWEAR I read this with an open mind. Great writing though! ;-)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on January 24, 2011:

Thanks for commenting, CollB. I'm sure most of these places count on people filling up on inexpensive carbs. It is a much better deal if you take it slow and be very selective.

CollB on January 24, 2011:

I like these tips and advice about buffets. I've heard mention the starchy food which are filling..thanks for the hub post.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 08, 2010:

I've never been on a cruise, but I'm sure that would be a great choice and a whole different category. Thanks for commenting, Jim.

Jim Appleby from Temescal Valley on October 07, 2010:

Cruise ships were not mentioned in the poll above, so I voted "other". Even though cruise lines are drifting away from formal sittings in favor of alternative dining, the cruise buffet is as glamorous as it is enjoyable. They rank right up there with fine restaurants such as the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 06, 2010:

I think that's the right approach, xixi12. I always think there's no use eating a lot of something I can make at home. (Skip the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)

Thanks for commenting.

xixi12 from Everywhere but here. In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. You can never be truly free till you have the discipline to manage it. on September 06, 2010:

i enjoy chinese buffets, i get to eat what I will not normally prepare for myself

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 25, 2010:

I understand this, fully . . .and I mean, fully. Luckily we have none close and convenient, so it is only once or twice a year.


2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on July 24, 2010:

We try to steer clear of buffets because our Wonderful Husbands love them so much - as can be seen by their buffet bellies.

Nice hub.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 24, 2010:

It can be a challenge for almost anyone. I can usually resist desserts-- unless it is seriously good chocolate. (Just a small piece, please.)

billyaustindillon on July 24, 2010:

Buffets can be an economical way to eat - except I find myself over eating and saying I shouldn't have that desert but I do. I shouldn't have that extra side but I do. The one I will do now is a when on holidays and there is lots of fresh seafood and fresh fruit. I liked your tips.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on June 29, 2010:

I think most restaurants fill up after church. I remember being in a small cafe one Sunday when there was a big group of motorcycle riders and -- on the other side of the room-- the church people. The waitress was really busy and coffee cups were getting empty.

Finally, a burly leather-clad biker got up from his chair, found the coffee pot and very politely poured coffee for all the nicely-dressed church goers.

I wonder if they left him a tip.

Angel Ward from Galveston, TX on June 29, 2010:

I really liked this Hub!! I need to find that song to share on Face-Book, lol. And I agree 101% about not scarfing or being in a hurry....that is one reason I do not like to go to buffets on a busy weekend etc. Its so gross when you see alot of large people fighting over the food like buffalo with rabies!!!

I had such a bad experience when I was pregnant, past the due date,very large prego, and wanted to enjoy a meal at a Chinese buffet, went early Sunday, got me a little Salad, it was nice and quiet, well, I was casually heading up to get the real food, and the church crowd came in (no offense people I am a church goer too, just not a hypocrite, after church monster) and the big large men in suits literally LITERALLY shoved my belly out of the way...my baby was in there..they were fighting over the food...I wanted to cry!! I just sat and watched as they hurried to eat in droves at the speed of light, to go get more, and more..I thought...none of these poor Asians will ever be converted to Christ after serving these nuts!

To this day, I cannot even walk into a Chinese buffet on a Sunday.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on June 01, 2010:

After reading about your new nutritional plan, I can understand what you mean. Thanks for commenting.

SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on June 01, 2010:

Hysterical Rochelle, the buffet song was hysterical, the whole thing was a laugh riot. Even the different types of buffets was making me laugh......I really need to avoid these places!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 01, 2010:

Must be the comfort food, Wayne-- and the years of experience (eating). I do like to cook, just not every day. Where does one get a job being a restaurant reviewer?

Wayne Brown from Texas on May 01, 2010:

Rochelle...you really did an excellent write with this one. You could be a really good food writer I think. I certainly would like to open my newspaper and see you there with recommendations and observations for me. I could sense your comfort and your knowledge of this subject just by reading it. Thanks for sharing! WB

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 01, 2010:

You are multi-talented, habee.

Holle Abee from Georgia on May 01, 2010:

Now THIS is a skill I have mastered!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 19, 2010:

Thank you, charanjeet kaur. It is tempting, but eating too much is also being wasteful. It is sad to think that many people have so little. Who knows what the future holds? These kinds of feasts may become a memory, one day.

charanjeet kaur from Delhi on April 19, 2010:

Rochelle this was an interesting read and I loved what you had to point on the food that is wasted in buffets. I know the food can be tempting but taking and wasting it is never a good idea. Enjoyed Reading and rated it up.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 18, 2010:

I hate to see food go to waste, too. I have gotten pretty good at making soup out of leftovers-- or, you could call them "planned-overs". Thanks for reading.

Bob Etier from Western North Carolina on April 18, 2010:

I have a small appetite but really like buffets. I guess my best solution is eating at home, serving leftovers from four or five previous evenings!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 16, 2010:

I like them, too, but they are not getting me to eat those dough things covered with cinnamon sugar. Thanks for commenting, mhuze.

mhuze from USA on April 16, 2010:

Pizza buffets are the best! Enjoyed reading your hub.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 27, 2010:

Thanks, Michael. I think eating mindfully is the best way to enjoy the experience.

Michael Shane from Gadsden, Alabama on March 26, 2010:

I agree totally with you on this hub! My wife likes the casino buffets but I am not a huge fan of them but if I do eat at one, I usually follow the steps you mentioned...Great hub about buffets.......

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 21, 2010:

There's one place in our region that warns patrons that they will be charged a certain amount, by weight, for wasted food. It seems rather ominous, but was probably necessary.

thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 21, 2010:

One of my pet peaves is seeing the waste on people's plates when they eat at buffets. Like you suggested, try a little at a time to make sure you really like it before piling up your plate. Great and entertaining hub...including the comments.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 20, 2010:

I liked the buffet song, too. It has the ring of truth.

I agree with the Chinese buffet-- It is a less guilty pleasure than many of them

dpfitzell from North Dakota on March 20, 2010:

Very amusing buffet video, I just loved it. I am a buffet fan also. I love Chinese food buffets the best yumm.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 20, 2010:

Thanks Lita, some people need little reminders to skip the rice-- Actually rice is one of my favorite foods.

And thank you too, dongately. Aha another Hodels fan. They are always good and moderately priced. Don't know how they do it.

dongately from Sana Clarita, California on March 20, 2010:

What a great article! I wish I had written it, but I could not as done such a complete and comprehensvie job. It happens that Hodels is my favorite restaurant in the whole world. I've taken many of my waterski friends there. Every time I go up to the Delta or lake Mcclure, I stop there. At home, I go about once a month for lunch at Hometown Buffet. I enjoy it, but it can't compare to the cooking at Hodels.

Lita C. Malicdem from Philippines on March 20, 2010:

In an "eat-all-you-can" restaurant, our joke is, "skip the rice, we've got lots at home". Haha! Actually, we balance the food and if you look closer, most food have carbo which are good rice replacement. Thanks for the intensive presentation. This is very informative and helpful.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 14, 2010:

Thank you, wordscribe41. It pays to be selective, for many reasons.

wordscribe41 on March 14, 2010:

What an entertaining hub, Rochelle! I've seen some pretty disgusting things at buffets. Gulp. I'm with you, I go for the MOST expensive items there. The bad news is so often the seafood is less than a delicacy. Anyway, great hub idea. Hope you are well.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 11, 2010:

The constitutionality is something I had not considered, though some of them probably should be illegal. Glad you are able to use some restraint. Thanks for commenting, franslovak.

franslovak from New Jersey, US on March 10, 2010:

A comprehensive guide to all the buffet styles available to mankind. As you have correctly suggested not all the buffets are created equal, which is of course unconstitutional. I will always attend a self help motivational symposium before attempting to dine in a buffet facility, this way I will consume only 17 times more food than my gastrointestinal tract is able to absorb. Thank you.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 10, 2010:

Thanks for the comment, ralwus. That must be the freshest catfish anywhere. Be sure to look for Hodel's nex time you go through Bakersfield. It's on the North side of town.

ralwus on March 09, 2010:

I was in Cancun twice at the Oasis. I got tired of that food at the end of the vacation, I needed some good ole American by the time we got home. LOL My favorite was a place in Ottumwa Iowa, a Catfish place, my gawd it was great! They raised their own fish right there in a pond. All you can eat but eat what you take with a huge pitcher of beer. I was in Bakersfield long ago and missed that place you speak of. dam!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on March 06, 2010:

They are much better when you learn to be picky ... I mean, selective. Thanks for commenting.

Betty Reid from Texas on March 06, 2010:

This hub brings back fond memories. When I was a kid and my parents brought us to a buffet, I would eat until I couldn't eat any more. I was 12 or 13 when I realized I could choose to stop before I was completely stuffed. Now my favorite buffets are the ones with lots of salads and vegetables.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 25, 2010:

I think most "regular" servings are too large in the US. I think it is partly because the cost of food is NOT the biggest expense in a restaurant operation. It costs them a lot to rent their facility, buy their equipment and furnishings, pay their employees and cover insurance and other expenses.

They give you lots of food to justify charges to the customer.

Thanks for the comment, I'm sure you are saving money by eating at home.

GojiJuiceGoodness from Roanoke, Virginia on February 25, 2010:

I find the poll results interesting. Our family almost never eats out. To demonstrate that, I haven't eaten out since Nov. 2009 when I traveled extensively for my brother's wedding. Before that, it had been about 6-9 mos.

So, when we eat out, you can bet we eat the special stuff! My favorite restaurant is Cracker Barrel, but they don't have a buffet. However, the servings are big enough I usually can't eat it all. :D

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 23, 2010:

Your father's advice is sound, and I think that is really the heart of what I'm saying about it. Thank you for commenting.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on February 23, 2010:

What a great guide to buffets, or as I call them 'hog troughs.' One does tend to over eat at a buffet and I just don''t like to do that anymore. My father's advise concerning buffets - just eat the expensive stuff.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 22, 2010:

Love your comment, fastfreta. Tasting something that you can make sort of makes sense. I guess you could have the satisfaction of knowing yours is better-- or, on the other hand, learning to improve your own recipe. But if I were to see sauerkraut (I don't very often) I would already know that mine is better, so I would pass.

MrSpock: I really hate it if I take too much of something and find out I don't like it. I always feel obligated to eat it anyway (which is illogical). I think the first plateful should be for finding out what really tastes good, so you can go for seconds of the best.

Thank you both for commenting.

MrSpock on February 21, 2010:

I tend to mess up on number two.

Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on February 21, 2010:

Rochelle, when I saw the title how to eat a buffet, I thought who doesn't know how to eat at a buffet, but after reading it, I guess I don't. For instance you mentioned that the restaurants hope you eat a lot of starches, never thought of that. You also said make things you don't usually make for yourself, honestly never thought of that. I usually eat what I make for myself to see how it compares with the way I make it, but I won't be doing that again. I can honestly say that this was an eye opener. Very good.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 21, 2010:

@cheaptrick-- I think our local fishermen are being forced out of the market by cheaper imports, so sad. Sad also that the prices are high. Fishing is a hard and dangerous job. Seafoods are my favorites, too.

@myownworld-- Yes I say skip the mashed potatoes and explore the mor interesting possibilities. Thanks for your comment.

@Maita-- It can be overwhelming, but it is a good place to be "picky". Let me know if it works for you.

prettydarkhorse from US on February 21, 2010:

I like this hub as I dont know what to do at buffet, it is either I am overwhelm with many foods at times--, I will take this advice to the letter, thank you Mam, Maita

myownworld from uk on February 21, 2010:

Such a unique and interesting hub! I was laughing where you mention how we shouldn't eat things we can cook at home for quarter the price...yes, that's a great tip. Loved that bit about 'eating with our eyes' too. In fact, I really learnt a thing or two here...so now time to put it to practice....the best part! ;)

cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on February 16, 2010:

What a great Article Rochelle.A strategy IS the best way.

We used to have Sea Food buffet's all over Florida.Now there very hard to find and the price is astronomical.But I'm a Seafood Fanatic so I pay it lol.



emievil from Philippines on February 13, 2010:

Wow! I love buffet meals (and my waistline shows it LOL). I love your tip numbers 3 and 4. My favorite is this buffet where we get to eat all kinds of sushi and sashimi (which are somewhat expensive here). I usually don't eat rice or bread as they make me full and seldom do I drink soft drinks (usually tea or water). If you can bring me to a buffet restaurant where they all serve seafoods and Japanese food, you'll have my loyalty for life! LOL

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 12, 2010:

Thanks, Om Paramapoonya! Nice to see you around again.

I think you have the right idea. At the Chinese buffet closest to us I have seen someone take plate full of boiled crawdads/crayfish. She said she was from Louisiana-- and she came in occasionally because that was the only place she could ever get them.

A lot of people would not think of eating "mud-bugs" but it was her best choice. Crayfish look like teeny lobster, if you don't know. They are tasty, but I could not eat a plate full.

I don't think this place has frog legs(which I have never tried) or crab legs, though they have crab in some dishes.

I tried raw oysters once at the Ahwahnee Hotel -- couldn't get it down, even with an orange juice chaser. (That actually made it worse.) But that is part of the Buffet experience-- choices.

Om Paramapoonya on February 12, 2010:

Great advice. Thanks, Rochelle. I love Asian buffets. There're several great buffet restaurants here in Sacramento. Every time I go to my favorite Chinese buffet, I usually eat only the crab legs, frog legs and oysters. The most expensive items, so to speak lol

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 12, 2010:

Thanks for reading, HubCrafter. I appreciate your comments. Now go find some food.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 11, 2010:

Thank you CM Hypno. Yes there is a difference between a catered event that is expecting a certain number of people-- and an "all you can eat" restaurant buffet. I have been at the wrong end of the line and found that all of the shrimp was gone, too.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on February 11, 2010:

Buffets are my favourite way of eating out Rochelle, and I have to say that the best ones that I have had have been in the States. I agree with you about eating everything on your plate at a buffet. I used to do waitressing at functions and the first in the queue would heap their plates high, leaving not much for those back in the line, and then would leave most of it!

Great Hub and I am now hungry!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 11, 2010:

@dohn 21-- I haven't been to Vegas in many years, but I'm sure the competition to present the best buffet must make the spreads fabulous. (Yeah, pass on the bacon.)

@ Jen-- Thanks. I like the Chinese buffet when we go to the city to shop. You just feel a little less guilt there with all of the vegetables.

@ Sara-- well, maybe. I think most people are just focused on filling those plates by the time they get to the door.

@ Sandy spider. "Thinking"? Oh well, if you are a big spider I suppose you can hold lots of plates.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on February 11, 2010:

Nice advice. I have been thinking about eating better.

Sara Tonyn from Ohio, the Buckeye State on February 11, 2010:

Hey, you have a million dollar idea here! You can sell your Glutton's Guide at the entrances to buffets and make a fortune off cheapskates and health nuts. Have your people call my people and they can begin working out the details...while I'm having lunch at the buffet du jour. Ciao!

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on February 10, 2010:

I really enjoyed reading this hub as it reminded me of the some of the best buffets I've ever been to at the Bellagio and the Carnival World Buffet in the Rio in Las Vegas. I went to Vegas in October of 2005, 2006, and 2007 and had a absolute blast!

You outlined some awesome tips here, Rochelle. I especially liked the tip on the breakfast buffet where people were passing up caviar and going for bacon and eggs. Thank you for sharing this!

By the way, you just reminded me that I'm starving!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 10, 2010:

Thanks for your comment, lorlie6. I hope you looked at the Buffet song video-- it's a hoot.

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on February 10, 2010:

This guide through buffets is mouth-watering, Rochelle! Though I thoroughly agree with your advice to take all in moderation.


Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 10, 2010:

Thank you, creativeone59. I tend to think of it as an occasional treat (and a test of the powers of moderation).

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