How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

Waste Not; Want Not


I can’t help thinking about a recent birthday celebration I attended at a Chinese buffet-syle restaurant. It had been a glorious day and a happy time spent with family members. No cooking or cleaning or washing up afterwards. Perfect.

Some things bother me about what I saw. I watched well-dressed, intelligent-looking people act like children. They piled up their plates and then left good food to be picked up and discarded by the servers. There’s so much food (at buffets and weddings), customers go for seconds and waste again. One young man filled up his plate to a cone-shaped disgusting pile twice. I’m surprised he made it safely to his table without an ugly spill—more waste. Twice more he piled a plate but ate only half.

Maybe I’m too conservative. Why not take small portions of something you’re not sure of and go back if you love it. Stuff yourself if you must but don’t waste. I’m not going to mention all the starving people in the world our mothers used to warn us about.

I overheard someone say at a table behind me, “Can you imagine, there’s a buffet restaurant in (fill in a name here) which charges their customers an addition set amount per plate if  they leave food on their plate. Good way to lose customers,” she said.

 To my way of thinking it’s not a bad idea. Just because you pay for the buffet doesn’t mean you should thoughtlessly waste it. Does it? Yet, that’s what customers do without a second thought. It’s not free but they seem to believe because they ‘paid’ for it, anything goes: at the hot buffet, the salad bar, the sweet table and the fruit bar.

And then we have free food at weddings. Call me old-fashioned or a fuddy-duddy. I just don’t get it. Isn’t that considered waste too? Shouldn’t food be respected? Aren’t we lucky in North America to have as much as we do?

One more thing. I have seen people order in restaurants, eat half and complain they didn’t like it and expect a free replacement. The goal is the rip-off. Come on; who is getting ripped off in the end do you suppose?  

Maybe I should confess that I’m not allowed out much.

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

53 thoughts on “Waste Not; Want Not

  1. Pure gluttony in a country that has no issue with being a throw away society.

    I am always blown away by how much waste there is here. Food, electronics, clothing, furniture.. oh.. and cell phones and computers. All to be the first on your… to have the newest and greatest. Makes me so furious. I’m with you on this soapbox, make room please!

    No, my friend I do not believe you are too conservatve. Not wasteful. Maybe more frugal than most. They should be so good!

    • That’s the sorry truth. the other side of the coin is why so few look past today, this moment. Can they not see that we must take CARE and save for another day—in all things? I shake my head. Thanks for coming by, Toni.

      • I think you hit the head on the nail, there is no worry about today, the now. There is too much looking over their shoulders instead watching for who has the newest and best.
        Seriously hard to enjoy being mindful of the now when you have one eye on the new advertisements, the other eye on the credit cards seeing which can be juggled which is in collections..seems to me living in the here and now would be such less effort. .

      • Tomorrow waits, but will there be just as much ‘easy’ then as today. Thanks Baroness. This has been a great conversation. Til next we meet.

  2. I agree – I lived in Vegas, buffet capital of the world, for a few years and was always quite disturbed by what I saw in the buffets. I could never understand either the need to pile plates so high when there were no restrictions on how many times you could go back. Or watching people taking 4 or 5 desserts, with no intention of eating them all but just to try a bit of each. I imagine that as much gets thrown away as gets eaten in those places. I hate food wastage and I work hard to avoid it at home (we have a lot of soups made from various left overs!).

    • Maybe customers should be weighed when they come in for the buffet and weighed on the way out. If they weigh more than “X” more than at entry, we charge them so much per pound. This is too much fun thinking of this. Wasting at home too is extra money out the window. Avoiding that by making lots of soups is the way I go too. Happy soup day to you. Nice exchanging ideas, Vanessa. Pleased to share with you.

      • Or what about a system where the food that isn’t eaten from people’s plates gets weighed, and they have to pay so much per weight of what they didn’t eat – surely that would make people take more care about what they put on their plates! Always lovely to chat with you too :)

      • You get a couple of females in a room. Give them a problem and viola, they’ll FIND the solution. I totally agree with having to pay what a customer wastes! This has been a great chat!

  3. Besides being wasteful, it also isn’t living a very grateful life. I know in our home we teach our children to not take more than they can eat because we don’t want to throw away food. I don’t use the “starving children” speech with them, but we do try to help them appreciate what they have. I think if society appreciated what they do have, without assuming it will always be there in abundance, some of this would change.

    • I love that your children are being taught by parents who walk the talk. How utterly refreshing. I see such a great divide in generations in my own family over what is waste, what is garbage, what is necessary, and what are treasures,
      My 19 yr old granddaughter has more rightous concern for her Universe than either of her parents, or any of their siblings. It would be an interesting study in human nature but there is something that is sad about it.

      • Hopefully your granddaughter’s generation do wise up. I see people lazy about everything from food to recycling to sharing and not wasting. Not that I wish anyone untowards upon them, but I think they need a wakeup call. Nice hearing from you. Thanks for dropping in.

      • We do the best we can. I do hope that my kids grow up with an appreciation of what they do have. Use what you need, but as my grandma used to say, “let’s not be hoggish”

      • Love your grandma! She had the right idea. Maybe that message should be put on a billboard somewhere: Lets not be hoggish! Thanks for sharing. Nice to hear from you.

  4. I’m totally with you on the waste thing. I would rather eat too little than run the risk of my eyes being bigger than my stomach. And not because I usually don’t have money to waste on frivolities, but because I know what things cost. And nothing should be wasted. Not time, not water, not food…
    Good post Tess ;-)

    • You are right, Ghia. I hate waste too. It’s been years since I attempted to eat even a mouthful more than what satisfied me. I don’t like that too full feeling. Thanks for sharing your opinion and nice to hear from you again.

  5. My son and his ex lived in Vegas for a couple of years and were always talking about their favorite buffets. Me, I have never liked buffets, for many reasons but one of the big ones is watching other people act like gluttons. There is simply something disgusting and disturbing about watching well fed humans suddenly behave as if they have never seen food.

    What I have never understood about buffets though, why don’t they take all the food left over at the end of the day to homeless shelters?

    • Oh Valentine, that’s EXACTLY what I would do. I have heard of restaurant around my parts who give to the homeless shelters. One thing I heard about grocery stores is that they canNOT donate fresh produce and other things because they are part their due date. That’s ridiculous of course (a majority of the time) because people are doing their shopping in dumpsters and saying how much money they’re saving. That’s not for me but that’s how the story goes. The gluttony is not a good example for kids either. What I don’t like about buffets, they must mix old stuff with new stuff AND people sneeze, cough and spit while they are talking and loading up their plate—never mind the glass / plexiglass overhang that’s supposed to keep the food ‘safe’. So nice to hear from you again. Long time. Tess

      • FYI, that’s crap. Grocery stores can and do donate fresh food all the time. They must do it BEFORE the due date. Some of them are too greedy and would rather mark it down to a minimal loss than lose all the profit.

        Worked in enough food banks teaching them how to handle produce (and what the foods were).

      • Is there ANYthing you don’t have first hand knowledge about. My you are one interesting gal. Good to know. Thank you.

      • Not a ton of things ;) I could not pass the play on words… Glad to see you today.

    • I wonder if there is concern over people getting sick and then lawsuits. I have helped with a senior citizen dinner and they are not allowed to take food home for fear that someone might not treat it properly with refrigeration, eat it , get sick and then sue the town. I think there are ways around that, but it wouldn’t appear that it is happening that much.

      • Hi Derek. I’m in agreement. Food sitting around, and being properly refrigerated is a sick person somewhere. Lawsuits. Ugh. Only greedy people would think of them afterwards. Thanks for coming by.

      • That is likely a very legitimate concern. I would think though if it were transported and served the same day that would solve the problem. Just seems such a waste.

  6. Think of the size of a good compost pile all those discards would create! Great post Tess!

    • Yes, it will make a compost pile of the greens; the meat will attract rats though. Still a waste no matter how anyone tries to find something redeeming about gluttonous eating. Nice to have you drop by.

  7. And THAT, is exactly why I haven’t been to a buffet in almost 15 years…!

    • Sounds like ME but it was an 80th birthday and I couldn’t say NO. Thanks for taking the time to share. We all know things that sometimes make us understand other things. I LOVE this blogosphere.

  8. When I go to buffets and free food things I have this impulse to eat as much as I can too cause it’s FREE. It’s irrational I know. Dogs do the same thing, they just wolf down whatever’s around. I agree with you, the way we waste food is shocking when you think about it. Some restaurants etc give food out the back to people who need it – I think that’s a good idea, then at least we’d know that what we don’t eat goes to someone hungry rather than the garbage or compost. Humans are full of contradictions, we’ll never resolve them!

    • Yes, humans ARE full of contradictions. I guess I don’t mind if anyone want’s to enjoy something special even if they go hog-wild once in a while. They can do it to the hilt without wasting. Yes?

  9. It’s hard to see all the wasted food we throw away in this country. And not just at buffets or weddings (and I think it would be a GREAT idea to charge people for leaving food on their plate, or atleast charge them by weight – our local Whole Foods market does that at their salad bar), but what about all the “not perfect” food that the restaurants or stores “can’t” take? I wish we could all figure out a way to get our country’s wasted food to those countries who don’t have enough at all…

    • I so totally agree with you even if we could get them to our local areas. I so hate it when people waste food. Here, where I live, I know that some restaurants contribute food after the end of the day (come ON, people are paying for FRESH) but I wonder if more restaurants couldn’t do more—because they are not all on side. Nice hearing from you. Hope you had a nice Mother’s Day. Tess

  10. I’m a doggie-bagger, unashamed. Any eatable leftovers I bring home.

  11. In our area we have small refrigerated trucks that pick up food from restaurants and take them to shelters, soup kitchens, the homeless etc.

    Good food for thought…..(no pun intended). We have become a nation of super- size portions…when will that stop?

  12. My Mom wanted to go to a buffet for Mother’s Day. Yeah. I’ve not been to a buffet in years and it really bothered me.

    My sister and I put small amounts of things on our plate to try them.

    Seems to make more sense that way.

    • You’re right. Why not try new things but nobody NEEDS to waste. I’m glad to hear from another grounded and reasonable human. Thanks, Jenny. Nice to hear from you again. There’s no reason everyone can’t enjoy without being an oink.

  13. Actually, this is a very intelligent post, and one that needs to be read by all who frequent buffets. Thanks!

    • Thanks so much. To me this is middle-of-the-road-logical-stuff—and THAT’s the problem. People have their heads in the sand. I appreciate your comment. Nice to know when others think as you do. Tess

  14. Hi Tess! Your last line makes me laugh!!! I wanted to thank you very much for your kind and positive thoughts you sent to my Dad! Thankyou so much! I have been touched by all the lovely comments and generosity of people. It makes a huge difference. He is out of hospital now and we are all so happy! Thankyou so much! With kindness and love GIgi …

  15. Hi, this is my first time visiting your blog. You have voiced every thought that goes through my mind at a buffet restuarant. I have felt as if I am annoying others when I take my time, choose a few dishes, then like a freak of nature leave blank spaces on my plate.You’d think I was walking down the aisle yelling out curse words, or verbally insulting the cook. I think there is some confusion surrounding the social custom of appreciation. It has become confused with the idea of quantity as opposed to quality. Great post!

    • Thank you, Lori-Ann. Yes, it’s disgusting what people are capable of–adults, no less.The bigger issue is the waste; it makes me ill.

      Thank you for sharing and liking my post.

      • Yes, the waste of food is a hard pill to swallow. It isn’t just buffets though, it’s also the waste of food in grocery stores that gets to me. The meat counter especially worries me. How disheartening it was for me to learn about how much meat gets tossed out in grocery stores. Some of this gets donated to soup kitchens and things like that, but this amount is miniscule. Basically a large number of animals are raised on fatory farms, slaughtered, and packaged, then tossed in the trash. I think the image of waste may just be more unbearable at a buffet, because it is so glaringly obvious and in your face. It’s an image of blind.overindulgence that can be quite disturbing. You can’t look away from it in the same way you can choose not to see the consequences of the factory farm and the modern day supermarket.

      • Thank you for sharing an awesome comment. I am feeling better (just a tad) that there are people out there who care about waste too. Makes you want to cry or go slap someone. Tess

  16. Just attended a wedding yesterday where there was tons of waste. Part of it was because they planned for way more people than showed up. I have learned to pace myself if I must eat buffet. Since I usually wait till near the end at these things, its usually pretty picked over by the time I get there. We are definately a wasteful society in many ways! Angie

  17. Great post! I have been irritated with the waste of food at buffets and restaurants for quite some time. The funny thing is I couldn’t put my finger on why. I kept trying to talk myself out of it (They paid for it.) but still had a gut reaction watching these people load up their plates and leave most of it for the trash. I guess it really does boil down to disrespect – for the food, the people who worked so hard to produce it and prepare it, and to the people who never get enough food to eat. People who deliberately and knowingly waste food simply can’t have the capacity to feel empathy for those who go hungry. I can’t think of any other reason. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this frustrating issue.

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