Get Your Money’s Worth with These Buffet Hacks

We are always on the lookout for good value and for most of us, all-you-can-eat buffets fit the bill. But buffet establishments are still a business after all, so they probably have a few tricks up their sleeves in order to maintain a high profit margin. For example, they may offer crab legs and prime rib, but they also have plenty of cheap fillers like pasta, veggies and rice.  So if you want to make sure you get your money’s worth, follow these hacks when going to a buffet:

1. Don’t go to a buffet extremely hungry.

Fasting before your buffet might seem like a sensible idea but it’s not. You’ll only end up with stomach cramps half-way through your lunch (or dinner). Moreover, when you are very hungry you are more likely to eat large portions fast so you will also feel fuller more quickly. What you should do instead is eat a light meal a few hours before the buffet such as soup, fruits or yogurt.

2. Exercise a few hours earlier.

If you want to boost your appetite before your big meal, you want to go with a moderate intensity workout a few hours prior. Avoid intense workouts because the harder you exercise, the less hungry you’ll feel afterwards. A workaround for this is to give your body enough time to recover after your hard workout, before you head to a buffet meal. That’s because once your body has recovered, it will feel hungry.

Studies have shown that ghrelin, which is the hormone that stimulates our appetite, tends to be suppressed during workouts. It remains suppressed an hour after a hard workout (high intensity and/or long-duration exercise).

3. Drink some booze before your meal.

Reader’s Digest once published a study from the Francis Crick Institute which showed that alcohol directly affects the hypothalamus and tricks your brain into starvation mode. By having a drink or two before your meal, you’ll have a better and bigger appetite.

4. Dress comfortably.

We’re not saying you should go to a buffet in your pajamas. But rather, wear something comfortable and loose fitting especially in the mid-section area so that you don’t have to worry about looking like a burrito after your big meal.

5. Check the buffet spread first.

As mentioned, all-you-can-eat buffets have some tricks up their sleeves and they have a specific setup to entice you to load up your plate with cheaper food items instead of the premium ones. Usually at the start of the buffet spread you’ll see salads, chicken, pasta, and carbs and the prime rib and steaks are found at the end of the spread. Be sure to scope out the choices first before you put anything on your plate.

6. Know what the most expensive and least expensive options are.

These are just general guidelines on the cost of food items you’ll usually find in buffets. Take note however that buffet choices in 5-star hotels cost considerably more than the $12.99 buffets you’ll find in restaurants.

Most expensive: 

  • Meat in a carving station — generally around $17 per lb. 
  • Fresh seafood — Lobster, crab legs, and oysters
  • Sushi rolls
  • Fine cheeses

Least expensive: 

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Macaroni
  • French Fries
  • Chicken Fingers

7. Bring a friend or two.

Studies have shown that when we eat with other people, we tend to consume at least 30% more. Humans are easily influenced by what others around us are doing and we often copy their behaviors.

We hope these buffet hacks will help you get the best value for your money. Remember however that while buffets are great, they’re not something that should be on your weekly to-do list! Have fun but don’t overdo it.

Category: Featured

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