6 Ways Buffet Restaurants Use Mind Games to Make You Eat Cheaper Food (Buffet Hacks)


Whenever you go to a buffet, you always say you’re so hungry and can eat an entire cow, but you always get full and give up really quickly.

Sound familiar?

Fret not because this article will be your lifesaver and will help you get your money’s worth in buffets by revealing mind games that some (not all) buffet restaurants use so you know how to counter them.

Read until the end for bonus tips on how to maximize your buffet experience.

Alternatively, you can watch a Blue Cat talk about it in the video below, but (Blue Cat won’t give you my super special buffet tips):

Serving Utensil Size

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Have you ever noticed that the serving utensils are of different sizes?

The ones for carbs are always huge but restaurants only provide you with the tiniest scoop or pair of tongs you’ve ever seen in your life for things like meat.

This is no accident.

You see, buffet restaurants provide larger serving utensils for carbs because it encourages you to eat more carbs and makes you full before you get to the expensive stuff.

Unless you’re a teenage male. They’re the worst enemy of any buffet restaurant because a single teenage male could eat enough to bankrupt a buffet restaurant.

When you put one scoop of rice and three scoops of chicken on your plate, the amount of chicken is probably the same, or even less than, as the rice on your plate.

Because the serving utensil for chicken is so small!

Keep track of what you’re eating based on how much space it takes up on your plate, not by how many scoops you had.

Plate Size

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“Size doesn’t matter” is nonsense because this is the second sizing trick buffet restaurants like to pull on you.

Research has shown that the size of your plate can influence you in many ways. The larger your plate, the more food you’re likely to take because you feel an urge to fill it up.

Now you’re thinking back to your last buffet, right?


Do you remember how small the plates were? You could only fit a few slices of roast beef on it before it was full.

As Master Oogway said, there are no accidents.

The plates given at many buffet restaurants are small to discourage you from taking more food.

And, because Singaporeans are lazy, we’re less likely to get up and go back to take more food once we’ve finished our plate.

The solution? Just go back for more servings lah.


Anyway, you’re already eating so much at a buffet you’ll gain weight. Every bit of exercise counts, even walking to the food and back.

Location of Plates

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It’s not just the size of plates that matters, but location that matters too.

Have you ever noticed how the plates at salad areas are huge compared to the ones near meat?

Most people take plates nearest to the place they are taking food from, so some restaurants use this to their advantage by placing different sized plates at different locations.

Plates near salads or carbs are bigger to encourage you to eat your fill of veggies and carbs, leaving less space in your stomach for expensive items.

In contrast, plates near meat are much smaller because you can’t fit anymore meat onto it after a while, causing you to return to your table after only taking a little bit of food.


So, to counter this, take a plate from the salad bar and bring it to the meat section so you can pile up as much protein as you want.

Or take multiple plates; no one’s stopping you.

Placement of Food – No Space On Plate

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Often, when food items are lined up in a row, you’ll notice that meat items are placed in the middle while carbs are at the sides.




Most people start taking food from one end and progress to the other, taking food as they go.

Since buffet restaurants put carbs at the ends of the line, people will fill their plate up with carbs at the start, leaving little space for meat when they finally reach it.

Sneaky, right?

Placement of Food – Carbs Galore

It’s not just that your plate doesn’t have space for meat, because you can always come back for more.

The real killer is that you’ll have to eat the massive mountain of carbs you piled onto your plate at the start.

You’ll end up eating so much carbs before you even realise it, and you won’t have any space for more expensive items.

Next time, just walk straight past the carbs and lock in on the meat.

Live Cooking Stations

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Some buffets have live cooking stations where there’s a chef there to help you make an omelette or cook noodles for you.


Not all buffet restaurants do it for this reason, but some have live cooking stations because the chef will make you uncomfortable or paiseh (embarrassed) to ask for more.

Reader: Ya sia, what will the chef think of me if I go back for my 5th serving of beef?

Because customers feel paiseh to go back for more, they end up eating less than they actually can.

So the moral of the story is to not be paiseh and just do it. The chef is probably zoning out anyway, he won’t remember your face.

Extra Tips

There’s many things you can do to really get the most out of your buffet experience.

For starters, stop eating carbs! Why would you even eat carbs at a buffet unless it’s some really special pasta or your favourite dish?

Carbs make you feel full so quickly and hinder your ability to eat your heart out at buffets, so it’s best to avoid them completely if you want to eat a lot.

Speaking of feeling full, stop drinking so many sweet drinks.

Reader: But it’s free flow!

Why do you think?

The more you drink, the less stomach space you have for the real important food like lobster, beef, and oysters. And these drinks cost restaurants way less than expensive items, so you’re helping them make even more profit while you eat less.

So, stop gulping down glass after glass of coke. Save that precious space for food.

If you really want to take this buffet game seriously, you can choose to not eat the meal before that.

If you’re eating a buffet dinner, skip out on lunch to free up space for dinner. If you’re eating a buffet lunch, you could consider skipping breakfast and eating a light dinner the night before.

And, if you’re really committed, do some exercise to work up an appetite before the buffet.

People always like to say those who are prepared are the ones who will succeed, and I’d like to think this applies to buffets as well.

With all these tips, you’re more than prepared for your next battle – I mean buffet, so go forth and conquer the expensive food.