Dumb Mistakes Everyone Makes When Eating At Buffets

It doesn’t matter what your intentions are
when you go to a buffet, or how fancy of a buffet you choose, they’re always a bit of
a minefield. Here’s what you need to know to get the most
out of your trip to the buffet — whether you’re trying to watch your waistline, or
just not get sick. It’s so tough to resist grabbing a few pieces
of fried chicken or loading up a plate with those crispy, delicious egg rolls, but according
to Rene Ficek of Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, loading up on fried goodness is definitely
a mistake. But not exactly for the reason you think. All fried food is bad, but buffet fried food
is even worse. Buffets are cooking everything in bulk, and
they’re going to try to cut back on their costs where they can. That means they’re using the cheapest oil
they can find to fill their fryers, which churns out fried dishes that are likely to
have the maximum amount of artery-clogging nastiness possible. Ficek explains: “Every time you put something in a deep fryer,
it acts like a sponge and soaks up as much grease and saturated and trans fat as possible.” Doesn’t sound so appetizing now, does it? When you hit the buffet, what sort of food
do you tend to gravitate toward? Do you go for the tried-and-true favorites,
the things you know you’re going to like, or do you try something new? If you’re only loading up your plate with
the stuff you know you’re going to like and the dishes you’ve had before, you’re missing
out. Buffets are the perfect opportunity to try
something new, without making a commitment to a dish. It’s not like a sit-down restaurant where
ordering something you’ve never had before can make or break your evening, and you’re
not actually investing some of your hard-earned cash into something you’re not sure if you’re
going to like. Get a small plate, try a few spoonfuls of
something new, and who knows, you might just go back for seconds. Also, consider this: are you loading up your
plate with food you could make at home? Don’t do that! Go for something different, and not only will
you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, but you won’t be comparing it to your
own home cooking. Not all buffet foods are created equal. An estimated 128,000 people end up in the
hospital with food poisoning each and every year, and if it seems like buffets are just
germ collectors, they can be… but they don’t have to be. It’s all down to your choices, and if you’re
not careful, you could be opting for foods that are more likely than others to be dangerous. “Watching people get sick always makes me sick. And frankly, so does talking about it, so… wow.” Don’t put sprouts on your salad, because they’re
known bacteria-carriers in even the cleanest of kitchens. The same goes for sushi, because preparing
it and keeping it at the right temperature while it’s sitting on a buffet line is difficult
at best. Also skip the tuna, which is susceptible to
bacterial growth, and skip anything with mayo in it for the same reason. Hitting the buffet and going right to the
seafood section might seem like a good idea, especially if it’s piled high with things
you just don’t get often, like oysters and crab legs. But there are a few reasons you should think
about skipping these, and the first is obvious: the potential for some serious food poisoning,
as shellfish and fish are both extremely susceptible to contamination. There’s something else to consider, too, and
this tip comes from an all-you-can-eat buffet operator who took to Reddit to dispel some
mysteries about the buffet. When someone asked what food they would stay
away from at all costs, the answer was “crab legs”. The Redditor continued: “I’m being serious. I have seen Chinese buffets at the fish market
going and buying bottom of the barrel seafood, including crab legs past their prime. And then they don’t steam them properly either
to save on volume.” The Redditor also adds that oysters are usually
less-than-fresh, often imported and past their prime once they make it to the buffet table. If you’re not skipping these, you might be
risking a trip to the hospital. It might seem only natural that you’re going
to order a round of sodas to sip on while you’re hitting the buffet, but this is another
mistake you shouldn’t make for a few reasons. “AH!” According to Psychology Today, those giant
glasses are there for a reason, and they encourage you to drink a lot, fill up on soft drinks,
and ultimately have less room for food. Soft drinks cost the buffet next to nothing,
and it’s a super cheap way to help them make sure you’re leaving with a full belly at a
minimal cost to them. You know soft drinks are marked up, you expect
that when you go to any restaurant. But you might not realize just how much the
price goes up with you sit down to be served. According to Business Insider, soft drinks
are one of the biggest ways restaurants cash in, and the average markup on soda is a whopping
1,150 percent. For buffets, it’s a double whammy. They’re making money, and they’re hoping you
won’t eat as much food. Skip the soda, grab a water, and say “no,
thank you” to that refill. For most people, their instinct is to grab
the plates sitting at the head of the table and use them for whatever is on the buffet
line. But there’s absolutely no reason to do that,
especially considering those plates and bowls are specifically put out for a reason: to
trick you into eating less of the good stuff and more of the cheap stuff. Psychology Today says that the size of utensils
and plates used at buffets are chosen because they control how much food you can take at
one time. There’s even specially-sized “buffet line”
products, and by the end of your meal the small plate sizes and huge glasses mean you’ve
filled up on things you didn’t intend to. So, scout utensils and tableware when you
scout the buffet line. If salad plates are bigger, grab one of those
for your meat-and-veg course. If the soup bowls are bigger than the dessert
bowls, grab one for ice cream. Even if you have no intentions of eating more
and filling these bigger plates, it’ll be much, much easier to keep from making the
inevitable mess that seems to come with those tiny plates. Buffets operate on something called the “fill
the customer belly cheaply” metric, says Psychology Today. The ideal buffet foods are cheap for them
to buy, easy to make, and extremely filling, which means starches are often in abundance. Keep an eye out next time, and you’ll see
there will be piles and piles of rice, noodles, and bread. Those are all cheap and filling, which is
perfect for buffets. They’re tempting, too, but if you’re going
heavy on these starches, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Skip things like dinner rolls and bread completely,
as they’re not only going to fill you up fast, but you can enjoy those anywhere. Food Network warns against not just those
more obviously filling starches, but also against things like potatoes, pasta salads,
and rice pilaf. Buffets make it easy to serve yourself huge
helpings of things like these by giving customers larger serving spoons, so be aware of just
how many starches and carbs you’re putting on your plate, then save room for the less
filling, more expensive stuff. So, you’re picking out the choicest morsels
and putting them on your plate. Have you ever picked a serving spoon that’s
laying in the rice or the lettuce, then used it? Or, have you ever dropped a serving utensil
into a dish, then picked it up and propped it on the side of the serving tray? You’re not helping yourself or other customers,
and here’s why this is a huge mistake. According to Food Safety News, there’s a pretty
glaring gap in food safety regulations that impact buffets in particular. Restaurants need to conform to a whole checklist
of safety standards, but there are not as many rules and regulations regarding serving
utensils. Those tongs and spoons can be touched by hundreds
of people in just a few hours’ time. When those handles are dropped into food,
all the germs that have collected on them are dropped into the tray, too. Regulations say if a utensil is dropped into
a platter, the entire platter should be replaced, but if you pick it up and put it back where
it goes quickly, they’ll never know. Even if you’re super careful about washing
your hands, not everyone else is. Your best bet is to not only skip anything
that has a utensil laying in it, but tell staff so they can fix a potential health hazard. When you get to the buffet, do you grab a
plate and hop right in line? You shouldn’t, you should scout out the buffet
before you even pick up that plate. Even if you’ve been to that particular buffet
before, dishes and layouts are always changing, and the only way to really get what you want
is to make a plan ahead of time. You’ll find any new or seasonal dishes that
are on offer, and you’ll be able to figure out what you’re going to put on your first
plate, second plate, and so on. And why’s that important? Flavor profiles: you don’t want to be piling
chicken teriyaki alongside a slice of roast beef and gravy, do you? This can go the other way, too. Say you’re starting with a salad, but since
you’ve wandered through the rest of the line, maybe you’ve found a pan of grilled chicken
you can slice and add to the salad. So take a minute, walk the lines, and figure
out what to get to minimize waste and regret. Everyone wants to get their money’s worth
when they’re going to a buffet, and it might be tempting to skip breakfast and lunch in
preparation for a dinner buffet, but this is actually a terrible idea. Don’t believe it? Just take it from the competitive eaters. They know just how quickly your body reacts
when it’s deprived of food. Long periods without food cause your stomach
to shrink, because it’s essentially learning to survive on less. Skip meals and by the time you head to the
buffet, there will be less room in your smaller stomach, and you probably won’t be feeling
that great. Ultimately, it’ll lead to a case of “eyes-bigger-than-stomach,”
which is pretty common at buffets, anyway. Instead, have a light meal in the morning
in preparation. Food waste is a widespread problem that exists
on a scale almost too big to fathom, so taking too much at a buffet and leaving a half-full
plate to be thrown away is a bigger mistake than you might expect. In 2017, Forbes reported studies done at hotel
buffets revealed some shocking statistics: a little over half the food put out on buffet
lines ended up in the garbage. And it’s a global problem. Winnow uncovered similar findings when they
looked at buffets in Asia, where they found that again, about half of the food served
at a buffet was wasted. The problem is complicated, and waste happens
not just on customers’ uneaten plates. Have you ever skipped over a tray because
there’s only a single scoop or so left? Why? The habit has given rise to buffet’s tendencies
to replace trays before they’re empty, and that’s all food going right in the garbage. Here’s how you make a difference: take that
last scoop, and pace yourself. Make an extra trip if you’re still hungry
instead of piling your plate high and not eating it all. Every little bit counts, and when it comes
to food waste, everyone can make a difference. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
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