These damn vegetables at the grocery store cost too much. Eating a vegetable-rich diet can seem more and more economically unfeasible with each $8/lb box of organic spinach tossed into the cart. That’s why my cheap ass went to Buffet King to see how I could extract the maximum amount of nutrients out of the $8.69 (before 3:30 and after military discount) bill! My guiding principles were as follows:
- Prioritize nutrient-dense foods (vegetables and seafood)
- Appropriate amount, not “as much as possible”
- Intermittent fast pre- and post-meal
- Focus on high-value options (AKA not rice, bread, or deep-fried items)
- As always, avoid refined sugar, processed grains, and industrial oils
A plate of sushi/seafood; a plate of baked stuffed mushrooms, salmon, and ribs with lettuce; 2 plates of Mongolian BBQ (with butter if you ask and decline the “butter” in the plastic contained mentioning “partially-hydrogenated soy” in the ingredients); and a plate of fruit later, I finally decided to waddle out of the dark labyrinth of endless food and obese community members. The fact that my phone died and I could no longer be accompanied by Christopher Ryan’s voice also played a part in my decision to stop eating. Considering the fact that a heaping plate of stir fried vegetables and meat would usually cost equal to my total bill, it is not much of a question whether or not I received my money’s worth. I had more rice than planned. The shrimp and salmon were probably farm-raised. The beef and pork in the BBQ were most likely factory-farm raised. Overall, I managed to ingest a significant amount of vegetables and meat with very little sugar, industrial oils, or processed grains.
Being my only meal of the day, under $9/day isn’t too bad of a deal for most people.
On the bike ride home, while attempting to hold down the bloated mass of fermenting plant and animal matter, I wondered to myself: is this even enjoyable? Is food about finding the most cost-efficient eating habits? Am I best off slashing my food bill to the smallest number I can manage? Or is food about enjoyment, community, and vitality?
When I economize every calorie, I can’t help but feel I’m merely wallowing in a survival mindset when I know I have the capacity instead to view food as a catalyst to thrive. The research shows that the psychological value derived from food is directly tied to the price paid for that meal. As a compulsive over-eater, the impulse to over-consume is just too great for me to suggest I rely on buffets for my meals. When food is in sight, I’ll usually eat it. When “the deal” depends upon the amount of good I can stuff in my face as quickly as possible, I’m inclined to go for seconds…and sevenths. I’ll stay away from the buffet as long as it means fewer moments lying in discomfort and wishing I hadn’t eaten that last plate of food.
Are you a buffet regular? Do they fulfill your needs or make you wish you’d stayed home to make that ecologically grown salad topped with grass-fed beef? All-you-can-eat definitely has it’s place, but what is the adequate frequency for you?