Hate Cooking? Hit the Buffet for as Little as $1 With This Tool

Updated November 7, 2016
by Jamie Cattanach
Staff Writer
Cheap eats

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll continue to say it no matter how annoying and naggy it becomes.

We waste way too much food in this country.

And by too much, I mean 65 million tons, according to the USDA. Actual tons. The “2,000 pounds” kind, not the “I have tons of homework tonight” kind.

Obviously, this is a serious problem for both our wallets and our world.

It’s not just that we’re wasting money on both the personal and global scales. We’re also failing to feed the almost 800 million people affected by chronic hunger. Instead, we’re throwing perfectly good food into the garbage can.

How do we fix it? One company’s strategy might help both the planet and your food budget.

Get Delicious Buffet Meals for Cheap — and Save the World, Too

Cheap eats
Samantha Dunscombe – The Penny Hoarder

Although it’s not available everywhere (yet!), BuffetGo is working to help end food waste — and give you cheap, delicious meals.

The way it works is simple, but genius.

Think about the last time you went to a buffet. Remember those heaps of food waiting to fill your plate?

Just like when you make a meal at home, there’s usually too much. At closing time, a decent amount of that food ends up in the garbage.

Enter BuffetGo, which lets you purchase heavily discounted buffet meals you can pick up after hours.

The tool rescues those scraps from the landfill while simultaneously offering you an amazing deal. Seriously, when’s the last time you ate well for two bucks in New York City?

Plus, the company will even refund you the cost of your first meal!

How BuffetGo Works

Cheap eats
Samantha Dunscombe – The Penny Hoarder

After closing, the buffet can’t sell those prepared goods, as they’re technically “expired” — although they obviously don’t magically go bad once the clock turns from 10:00 to 10:01 p.m.

Since the restaurant wouldn’t have recouped any of its losses on those buffet leftovers anyway, you can get them for super cheap, so long as you play by the rules.

Pick your favorite restaurant and purchase a buffet meal through the website’s menu. Prices are discounted up to 90% and start at just a dollar, tax included.

Then, head to the buffet during your specified time slot, show the friendly folks there your BuffetGo order confirmation and fill your takeaway box with delicious “leftovers” that would have cost you much more if you’d purchased them during buffet hours.

BuffetGo’s unique business model requires you take the food out to eat, since the buffet won’t technically be open when you arrive.

The time parameters in which you can pick up your meal will be included in the listing and vary from 15 minutes to over an hour. Better yet, they’re not all late night! Some breakfast and lunch buffets end midday or early evening, so BuffetGo isn’t just for midnight snacks.

Just make sure you arrive within the given time slot, or you risk losing out on your purchase. Although BuffetGo will refund you in the unlikely event that the restaurant’s out of food when you arrive, it won’t refund you for being late, since the times are clearly stated.

The company also suggests you bring your own recyclable takeout box in case the restaurant doesn’t have any — and also because it’s yet another step toward a greener, more sustainable world.

Plus, I’m betting you have some Tupperware bigger than those styrofoam boxes, anyway…

Want to Help Put an End to Food Waste?

Cheap eats
Samantha Dunscombe – The Penny Hoarder

Unfortunately, BuffetGo is only available in select American markets so far — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

However, company spokesperson Han Sol Lee told me in an email that BuffetGo is in the process of expanding to both major and less-populous cities “as we speak,” so it might soon be available near you!

Either way, the first line of defense against food waste is doubtless in your very own kitchen.

According to the most recent figures from the USDA, consumer-level losses (that is, what you scrape into the trash can instead of packing up after dinner) represent 21% of food waste, while retail-level losses represent only 10%.

That means the power to end food waste is in your hands — literally, when you’re about to throw away those leftovers.

Don’t worry, I won’t send you away with the blithe advice to “Just eat it!”

We have lot of ideas to help you figure out how to stop wasting food — and making excuses that perpetuate the behavior.

Making small changes can help change the world.

Bonus: more food in your belly and more money in your pocket. What more can you ask for?

Your Turn: Would you use BuffetGo? What are you doing to help stop food waste? We’d love to hear your tips!

Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her writing has also been featured at The Write Life, Word Riot, Nashville Review and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.

by Jamie Cattanach
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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