I frequently attend buffet meals. Most of these are at church. If there is ever a function, or a lunch, or a social occasion at church you can guarantee that there will be a buffet lunch or supper. The trend these days seems to be for a “bring and share” meal to be prepared, where everyone brings a dish and you can therefore end up with absolutely anything.
The majority of the time it works out well, but there were a few occasions when it did not. One time I remember we had five different beef casseroles as main courses which people brought in their slow cookers and just one potato bake to go with it. Another time there was not enough main course, and my husband had five helpings of pudding because they ran out of main by the time he got to the table. Then there was the church picnic, in the week that a particular supermarket had an offer on those little mini scotch egg things, and the picnic was mostly mini scotch egg things.
These instances aside generally things work out well. There is a variety of main courses, some hot, some cold, together with bread, salad, and cheese followed by various desserts, cakes and fruit. The problem I have at these events is that I want to try EVERYTHING. But even a tiny bit of everything adds up to one great big massive plateful and me wishing that once again my eyes had not been bigger than my stomach.
Too many of these events can lead to me putting on weight, so I have developed a weight maintenance strategy for dealing with the buffet meal to try and curb my enthusiasm for all that food in front of me.
- Do not be the first person up to the table. Otherwise you will finish your meal before everyone else and then want to go for seconds simply because everyone else is still eating. Find someone you want to talk to, and chat to them first, arriving at the buffet table in the middle of the line. Don’t wait till last or all the nice food will be gone!
- When you arrive at the table, survey the whole table and try to eye up the things you like. Otherwise you will fill your plate quickly and realize there is food at the other end of the table that you want.
- Go easy on the sandwiches, just have one or two. Sandwiches are boring, you can have them at home anytime.
- Don’t have more than one thing with pastry, or try and avoid the pastry altogether. So only have one sausage roll, or one small slice of quiche (there is ALWAYS a quiche at a church tea!).
- Try and have lots of salad items.
- Do not have more than one layer of food on your plate – one plateful only of main course, with no piling up.
- Try to sit with interesting people when you eat your meal, so that you focus on the conversation, and don’t think about all the food that is left!
- When you go for dessert, again survey the table first. Decide which is your favorite one, or a maximum of two puddings or cakes.
- Help yourself to one bowl or plate of pudding with your one or two items on it.
- Step away from the table and do not return!
- When you have finished your pudding, offer to help wash up or make the cups of tea, so that you don’t have to go near the table again. Beware doing the job of clearing the table up as this opens up the temptation to nibble at the leftovers.
So there you have it – my best tips for sensible eating at a buffet. It doesn’t always work mind you, I still have days where I go over the top, but at least I always have a PLAN, and consequently I manage to restrain myself to some extent most of the time.
What are your top tips for sensible eating at a buffet meal?