The buffet

They say you have to do something 17 times for it to become habit. During my university years, making the most of the local restaurant  $5 all you can eat buffets was definitely habit forming, hitting the 17 mark sometime in the first month I’m sure. Not only was it a cheap meal, it became a competition for who could stack their plate the most or who could eat the most pieces of garlic bread, or pizza slices or soft serve ice cream.

Recently we visited my grandfather for lunch at the local sporting club, where their main draw, other than the Ghostbusters pokie machine, is their buffet. Grandpa says he likes bringing people there as it allows everyone to choose what they want to eat without any fuss. It was the first time we had been back to Grandpas buffet since starting this project and I was about to learn that old habits are hard to break.

There is something about the buffet that taps in to the Australian culture of celebrating the effort as much as the achievement, the old “ah well, he gave it a red hot go”. For me it also taps in to the indecisive part of my mind, “should I have the pork or beef? Why not a bit of both! Oh I didn’t see the calamari rings, best get some of those as well.” The plate starts to pile up, the flavours start blending in to each other but I don’t really notice how much food is there until I sit back down at my seat, and struggle to see anything else at the table past the big pile of fried rice I built my stack around.

It starts off well, the roast beef and vegies go down easy enough, the seafood hardly touch the sides, then I see it, the slab of lasagne that  smelt so good under the heat lamps. What was I thinking? I look over at E’s plate and she has definitely approached this differently. Part of it is the gluten free diet avoiding all the pasta and pastry themed items, which cuts out about 30% of this buffet. But if I was honest, I think she was just more mindful of this project than I am.

I look back down at my plate at the roast pork, pasta salad and call defeat.  The bargain buffet just got more expensive, like a lot of things along this journey. I’m definitely getting better at what to look out for and in the process I added another count to my mindfulness habit, hopefully.


12 dollar chips and a plate of red onion

Dealing with eating out.

We were on one of our regular burger date nights,  ordering the usual down at the local Grill’d,  burger and cider each, with a regular fries to share. Everything was going well,  both enjoying our burgers,  cider taking the edge off a tough day at work.  Then it happened, a bit over half way through the fries and I called it; “I can’t eat any more.” E was obviously full as well. I looked at her and said “well I guess that’s $5 for the jar”.

That was the response from E. She really didn’t want to pay for the left over chips, which opened the discussion on how to handle eating out. Sure, it’s not our fault that a chef served too many chips with the parma, or that they were generous and served a whole avocado with breakfast. But if one of the motivations to stop food wastage was because there are people that don’t have enough, then it’s not their fault the chef put too much on my plate either.

So how to handle eating out. Firstly consider how big the serve is going to be. You can always order more of something later. Sometimes though, you just get unlucky, as E did a few weeks after our chip night. For lunch at work one day she bought herself a salad and while ok in taste, was served with far too many red onions in the mix. No matter how hungry you are, there is a limit to how many red onion slices you eat in one sitting. Especially during the work day!

Most people would think that paying $5 for leaving those red onions is too harsh, that they draw the line at salad filler. For me it depends on how you are looking at it. Overtime we will hopefully be able to build a list of places that serve good quality, reasonable size dishes. And in the meantime, I’m happy to pay the price to cross those other establishments off my list.