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A buffet (UK: /ˈbʊf/, US: /bəˈf/, from French: sideboard) is a system of serving meals in which food is placed in a public area where the diners serve themselves. Buffets are offered at various places including hotels, restaurants and many social events. Buffet restaurants normally offer all-you-can-eat (AYCE) food for a set price. Buffets usually have some hot dishes, so the term cold buffet (see Smörgåsbord) has been developed to describe formats lacking hot food. Hot or cold buffets usually involve dishware and utensils, but a finger buffet is an array of foods that are designed to be small and easily consumed only by hand, including cupcakes, slices of pizza, foods on cocktail sticks, etc.

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In America, we enjoy food... a lot! And not just good food, but large quantities of food. Buffet restaurants offer us the quantities and varieties we all crave. So how do we get our full money out of visiting a buffet restaurant? Just like with any buffet, there will be a large variety and quantity of food available to each customer. And with prices of buffet restaurants ranging from $8 to $25+ a meal (not including drinks), how do we get the most out of the buffet experience? Especially when on a budget. First, take a stroll through the aisles upon aisles of soups, salads, entrees, desserts and drinks. See what looks good and what doesn't. When you start loading up your first plate, try starting with something light that will digest within the time you are there. Such as vegetables or fruit (no heavy dressing as this will defeat the purpose of eating something light). The reason why you would start with something easy is so that you can have room for that last plate later. After eating something small and dainty is when you can really let loose. Start loading up your plate with everything you had seen before and crave. Eating a large quantity of food is like exercising, just keep a good pace and breathe. Try taking a few sips of soda every couple of bites so that the carbonation assists with removing air from your stomach (a.k.a. burping) which gives you more space to work with. I call this the "Tetris Effect". Like the lines disappearing in the game "Tetris", the food will settle down further into your stomach allowing for a more efficient use of space. More space = more food. Also while eating away at your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd plate of food, eat a slice of orange or lemon. The acid will help break down the food in your stomach and give you a head start in the digesting process. With a good buffet, you'll need all the space you can get. Second, try staying away from anything with chili's like hot sauce or peppered foods. It may seem difficult for all those spice lovers (such as myself) but statistics show that when one eats any sort of chili's, they consume an average of 17% less food. An ingredient in chili's give the eater a sense of being "full" more quickly than normal. So stay away from the spicy. Finally, try eating something light for dessert such as frozen yogurt or jello. You basically just stuffed yourself so you don't want to feel like crap afterword. Buffets are an experience you should enjoy and remember. Who wants to be moaning and groaning on the way out? No fun. And remember, your stomach can only digest 1 cup of food at a time. So give yourself at least an hour of cool down time before doing anything physically stressful.

Contributed by Angie Yeaton

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