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Food portions are still too large.....

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

My boss has been away for a few days and, as he always does he goes out to dine each night.

He was in small town America this past week teaching a course in a college town.

He asked the hotel that he stayed in where there was a good place to eat, and was given several place from which to choose.

Over the course of the next few days he visited a few of them.

He asked the van driver about a certain place and asked if it was frequented by college students and was told that it wasn't as it was out of their price range, so he chose that place.

At this restaurant he ordered fresh tuna and after having to send it back to the kitchen twice, because it came out medium/medium well, he actually asked the cook to come out to the dining room to explain how to cook the fish nicely marked on the outside while still being rare on the inside and was happy with the results.

The portion was huge and he could not finish it.

 

The next night he went out to another place and ordered salmon, again commenting on the huge portions given.

The last evening he dined at the university dining facility that services the professors and staff.

It has it's own Chef and features fine dining choices on their menu.

Again he ordered salmon, perfectly done but again a huge portion.

He knew the Chef and engaged him in conversation.

The Chef told him the 7 oz. portion is considered average and admitted that if he went any lower he would have complaints.

He (Chef) fully realizes the portion dilemma  but is stuck. 

 

And so it goes.......We, as Chefs want to educate a public who is more interested in big portions for less money, and our hands are tied. Just go out to any buffet restaurant and watch the people pile their plates with food and go back several times.

The obesity rate rules more than does common sense about eating and portion size.

 

I wonder how long it will take for the tables to turn.

 

post #2 of 33

'Skimpy' is definitely a dirty word in the food industry

post #3 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by BSneezy View Post

'Skimpy' is definitely a dirty word in the food industry

Um, maybe when applied to food, some establishments seem to embrace it for attirecrazy.gif
 

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #4 of 33

A 7 ounce piece of fish IS the average size portion , at least here in Florida. The calories associatd with the fish is not because it is a large portion, it is because all of the butter and sauces we pour over or under the portion.

     Ex. A baked potato is approx 100 calories but by the time we the public add butter, sour cream, bacon and chives it is well over 350.-400. and in some cases more.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 33

I was under the impression that the national average was 5 ounces for fish.

 

Be that as it may, there's no question portion sizes are ridiculous. Compare the average---whether we use the 5 ounce or 7 ounce figure---to the USDA recommended 3 ounce portion size.

 

Where it really shows up as ludicrous is in the size of so-called appetizers. An appetizer is supposed to entice the appetite, not sate it. But when the appetite portions are as large (sometimes larger) then the entree, there's something radically wrong.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 33

Big Lady.bmp

 

At some point it will stop........We just got back from a week at Disneyland, every plate I saw in every Restaurant was over sized and way to much food. I make my wife a Chicken Piccata at home with a 4oz Boneless skinless chicken breast, at the Restaurant it was at least a 8oz breast on a bed of Potatoes. The portion of Fish I serve at home is 5o to 6oz portion and is more than enough. The problem I see is people are wanting more for their money, and they are getting it in wasted calories. People are eating more, taking more pills and living longer ???? why stop....My wife went out to bring back some food for the Kids from Mc D's, the big breakfast was over 1000 calories, 3 pancakes, english muffin, one bacon, one sausage patty, eggs and a hashbrown....That was the last day for that, the next day we all had Yogurt parfaits with granola and fruit......................OF course we were leaving room for IN N Out burger for lunch.........GGGEEEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ   Thank God we don't eat like that everyday....................ChefBillyB

 

 

 

 

 

post #7 of 33

Obesity is an epidemic in America, and especially amongst the cooking trade.

I should be slimmer according to the Body Mass Index chart.

 

I heard Food Talk with Michael Colameco talk about: The End of Overeating and Born Round.

I also found these articles:

Food and obesity: fat chefs

Oversized Portions? Blame the Chef

Chefs' Opinions of Restaurant Portion Sizes

 

I ate at a Claim Jumper Restaurant. The food was good, and their portions were huge! drinkbeer.gif

Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
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Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
Reply
post #8 of 33

When an order of fish tacos, and fish and chips (in KY Florida) is $14.50 for lunch, YOU BETTER, give them 7 oz.

post #9 of 33

KY

, Down here almost all the better places use a 7 ounce  you lose after cooking anyway.  Again to me it's not the fish size it's all the stuff on it and served with it. The seniors here (me Included) all try and watch their weight , they all ask for sweet and low  no sugar  with coffee, but then order Creme Brulee or Triffles

   . They figure by using the sweet and low they saved  on calories so now they can have dessert  and there even.  You figure it????+

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #10 of 33

While I hate to generalize, Ed, the reality is that the seniors & food culture in Florida is rather unique.

 

We're looking at the only place in the country where early birds are not only common, but expected. And they want large portions because they take half of it home for another meal or three anyway.

 

I'm not saying that last is unique to Florida. You find people with that orientation everywhere. One of my best friends is that way; no matter the price, if he can't get at least a lunch out of leftovers (and prefers an actual second meal) then he's not happy with the restaurant. The difference is, here his attitude is exceptional, whereas in Florida it's a lifestyle.

 

Now, before anyone jumps salty, I am not making a value judgement. Just offering an observation. But I am saying that because of this rather special relationship that Florida seniors have with restaurant food it's difficult to project what happens there onto the rest of the country.

 

And I agree with you, Ed, that the go withs certainly add to the caloric overload. But the fact is, 7 ounces is a fair sized hunk of fish even without the sides. 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 33

Although I am not of senior status yet....I almost always try and bring home 1/3 of my meal because portions are ridiculous. However, the prices are just as ridiculous. Nearly every pasta plate in the midwest in $12-17 at a decent restaurant, yet I can make my own pasta for far far less. I can see nice cuts of protein being expensive, but most things in the restaurant biz are way too pricey. Not to mention the pretty much standard ~20% tip that comes with a meal. For these reasons I don't eat out very often. If I was given 1/2 the portion at 1/2 the price I might eat out more often. 

post #12 of 33

It's quite a few years since I was in the USA (blame your Homeland Security and its methods!)  but I was always gobsmacked at the HUGE portions served in restaurants in the USA as compared to ours in the UK (and generally, in Europe, too).  I cannot remember EVER feeling that the portion sizes were catered to my appetite - ie far too big and 'over-faced' me (as we would say in Scotland!)

post #13 of 33

Jannet, your point is both right and wrong.

 

First off, we are talking about the sheer bulk of restaurant dishes, not the calerie count per se. Volume is ludicrous; I think everyone agres with that. And the fact is, a 7-ounce hunk of fish is a pretty big piece.

 

As to the calories, on average, a 3-ounce portion of dry-cooked fish (USDA recomendation) is 100 calories. So 7 ounces is about 230 calories. Not too bad. But why would anyone go to a restaurant and order a dish like that? We want it to taste better than we can make at home, so some sort of sauce is called for. And there are the sides, as well.

 

Personally, I don't go out to a restaurant with the intention of carrying home leftovers. But it's hard to avoid, given the size of the portions. And that, I think, is the point of this thread.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 33

I think the criticisms are overwrought. Value is an important consideration for the dining public, that includes portion size. With the state of the economy, I can't say I blame them. Portions aren't too large, people just eat too much at a sitting. Doggie bags aren't for dogs, ya dig?

post #15 of 33

If a place has a lot of people tsking food home for another meal, then portions are to big. Here in Florida the seniors do it because older people normally eat less and they are trying to save some $ on the next meal. I also believe you eat less in a warmer climate.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #16 of 33

Value is an important consideration for the dining public, that includes portion size.

 

No question. Percieved value is an important aspect of marketing any product.

 

With food, however, it's a chicken & egg situation. We have trained people to expect hummongous portion sizes. So, if we present a more rational size they think they're getting gypped.

 

The fact is, however, that other than is areas like Florida, where there's a unique relationship between customers and restaurants, if a portion automatically provides enough to provide another meal than it's too big by definition.

 

Contributing to the problem is that we have taught ourselves (at least in America) that quality and value are different things. Compare two places: one serves low grade meats in large quantity. Call it a 16 ounce steak. And the ambience is reflective of the meat quality. The other place serves prime, aged meat, in reasonable portions. Ambience is top of the line. Etc.

 

Most Americans, unfortunately, will say the first place is a better buy. Why? Because quantity trumps quality everytime. It's not as if they don't know the difference. Few of the folks opting for restaurant #1 have the attitude that a steak is a steak is a steak. They just think a huge hunk of leather is a better value than 8 ounces of tender beef.

 

To really see this syndrome, look at what passes for appetizers. In most restuarants, the appetizer listing is, in actuality, an a la carte menu. The portions are exactly the same as the same dish ordered as a main meal. Only the sides and go withs are absent. Now compare proportionate prices. Rather than being a true value, the "appetizer" is overpriced. But they're percieved as providing value because you're getting this huge portion for "only" X dollars. And, again, size is the determining factor.

 

Portions aren't too large, people just eat too much at a sitting.

 

This statement is self contradictory.

 

People---especially those of us brought up as members of the clean-plate club---eat what's set before them. If people are eating too much at a sitting (and I agree, they mostly are) it's because the server set too much in front of them. You can't eat too much at a sitting unless too much is put on the plate to begin with.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #17 of 33

The problem lies in value perception definitely! If people are unable to take their food home in a dogie bag, then it is not enough. After all, have you ever had a guest come up and say "Wow, I am pleasantly full!". Hell no! They say "damn I think I ate too much, I am stuffed. If we didn't have places like chilli's and olive garden giving such humongous plates of cheap crap, maybe people would realize what eating correctly is supposed to be. But... Thant won't happen we still live in America where "where is my doggy bag will reign supreme!!

post #18 of 33

As someone who has spent a lot more time eating in restaurants than actually cooking, I agree with you totally. And although the prices of restaurants are generally much lower than those abroad, I still am all for smaller portions. Large portions, full of food, appeal unattractive to the customer before all, they lack in aesthetics and can even make someone lose their appetite. They are also, as we all know, generally accepted as "something that is not right" in the professional culinary world. It is always quality, before quantity.

 

However, there are people who want to get the maximum for their money. I really hate it when I hear that some place somewhere gives huuuge portions of meat for only that much money.. To me, the process of eating out is to enjoy the company and the food, and not to eat all you can. At least not in good quality and exclusive restaurants, where people shouldn't, but still do, as you say, expect big portions for their money. I personally don't have the "doggy bag" habit, because I either finish or leave what I have ordered. As I already said, the prices are much lower in restaurants and people can afford to leave it. I anyway don't have a problem with eating, so even though I might generally not like a big portion for several reasons, I'm not often in the situation of having to leave big parts of it. I want to have a full meal, some kind of appetizer before it (although not obligatory), and the must-have dessert at the end, so depending on the restaurant I often order something to share with my company, making it suitable for my organism, the bill, and most importantly, the dessert at the end.

post #19 of 33

Hello, I just would like to throw my 2 cents in.

 

I love large meals, it would help me to go back. You guys are right there are a lot of big people in the world, but now as much as one might think. And the BMI is very outdated, i mean using that The Rock , Kobe Byant, and Ving Rhames are all Obese. But back to normal people.  People can always push back from the table if they do not want to eat the whole thing.  Money is tight for many Americans and taking something home for later is always a plus .

post #20 of 33

Personally, I would never want to eat cold or reheated leftovers from a meal I've already eaten once already in 24 hours!  If there is ever too much on my plate - I leave it on the plate and explain why when asked.

post #21 of 33

It's kinda funny, because I'm very much trying to re-portion my dish (not plate) sizes to better fit good nutritional eating. An interesting thing happened this week. I was using smaller sized fillets, I forget if they were 4-oz or 6-oz as opposed to 8-oz portions. The point is that I can't seem to get the same finished qualities with that small a piece of fish as I can with a larger piece. To get the skin as crispy as I want, the smaller fillets become overcooked. Not one person complained or sent anything back, but I was worried every time. Every night I got a good number of orders, so I guess the dish doesn't suck. I guess I just like the way it comes out better when using an 8-oz fillet. 

 

An idea that I think very few people are aware of and/or understand is the time delay in and of the sense of being full. We can actually be really full and yet still be jamming food into our mouths because our brains haven't caught up to our tummies. I also think that too many people eat too fast. They don't get the sensory satisfaction out of the flavors from the foods they're eating, so they eat more to accommodate for that loss. If we ate better sized portions (smaller) more slowly, I think we would be a healthier less obese population. Anyway, this post was made by someone who has been, with the exception of his time in the service, a fat guy. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #22 of 33

Putting aside whether or not it was cooked to your liking, IceMan, you notice that nobody complained about the portion size either. In most cases, restaurant patrons eat what is set before them. If they are satisfied with how the meal tastes and is presented, portion size is all but irrelevent.  

 

Your comments about how we eat are very much to the point. That's why we don't feel full until we stand up and walk around, at which point we complain about really being stuffed.

 

There is, too, a whole body of literature on the psychology of how people relate to food. For instance, if you reduce the physical size of the plate, but use the same portion size, people think they are getting larger portions. Conversely, a large plate, with lots of white space showing, promotes the idea of small portions.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #23 of 33

Personally, everywhere we go to eat, I can never finish my entree. 

I like to have an appetizer, main course and dessert (not to mention a cocktail before hand). 

But it's just too much now a days with portions the sizes that they are. 

I'm more inclined to order a "small plate" and have dessert at home hours later. 

Some of the places that we go to do offer half sized portions that are appropriately priced as well. 

That way my husband and I share an app and a dessert as well, it's a win-win situation.

But I do agree, I don't think that you should not be taking home half of your meal.

To me that indicates that the portions or too large and I don't want to pay for something that is going to sit in the 'frig and wind up being thrown away.  That's just plain wasteful.

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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post #24 of 33

Here in the country clubs in Florida most serve  a 7 ounce piece of fish and a 7 ounce filet ( net weight.) most eat it all .We watch returning plates. we switched baked taters from a 100 to 120 size and give 2 1/2 ounces vege.

No matter what amount you serve , older people still take some home because they can't eat as much or want to make a second meal of it home to save $

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #25 of 33

...or want to make a second meal of it home to save $

 

Percieved value, as opposed to real value, is an integral part of the Floridian Food Culture, Ed. Many older folk down there truly believe that if they get a second meal from a restaurant dish that they are saving money. After all, that next day's lunch or dinner is "free." And, of course, they've been trained to expect portion sizes that allow them to do that. Allow it, hell! The expect it.

 

There's a research project waiting for some grad student, though. Taking that culture as a whole, and including things like the early-birds phenomonon, oversized portions, etc., the question is: Do these people eat because they enjoy food? Or do they eat just because it lets them survive? And, at an even more basic level: When the only criteria determining what you eat is money, what does that say about your relationship to food?

 

One interesting thing, from a sociological viewpoint, is how this outlook gets passed down. The first big wave of retirees were, by and large, depression babies. They were oriented towards pinching pennies to begin with. And "fixed income" was the buzzword of the day to explain parsimonious behavior. So it's understandable that early-bird discounts, and multi-meal portions, and that whole scene would appeal to them.
 

The bulk of current retirees, however, are baby boomers who, in general, are more affluent than their parents. And yet they relate to food the same way.

 

Another open question: Do people develop this outlook once they move to Florida? Or does Florida attract that sort of personality, while others retire elsewhere?

 

 

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #26 of 33

You have to take into consideration the Seasonal  Floridian Scene . You have 5 monthes to make it Nov-thru March thats it. If you don't make it then close up because the rest of year just about covers overhead, You Hope. I have seen many a place fail because of this. Off season YOU MUST give added value otherwise the competition that does will bury you. To operate here off season requires a different mind set then most other states.

       Baby Boomers WERE  more affluent but last month and the one prior  billions were withdrawn from IRA s and 401 Ks . So the economy and our lack of America's leadership in the world by our elected officials has equalled them all out to the pre boomer status.So everyone is watching their dollars and spending. Even the Palm Beachers.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #27 of 33

You have to take into consideration the Seasonal  Floridian Scene .

 

Well sure. But that just means you provide what the customers are looking for. Which begs the question, because there are many places that are seasonal in nature. But they're not offering early birds, and double-sized portions, etc. Yeah, you do find those things here and there. But, generally speaking, they're a Florida thing.

 

How many of, say, Durangojo's customers do you think would adjust their dining habits, and eat dinner at 4 in the afternoon, only because she offered a discount if they did?

 

So it isn't so much a question of whether these things are endemic to Florida. The question is, how did that culture develop in the first place?

 

Baby Boomers WERE  more affluent but last month and the one prior ......

 

True enough. But the baby boomer retirees were availing themselves of the special Florida food thing long before the current economic crisis. Fact is, the depression babies have been steadily dying off for quite some time (or are in assisted-living facilities, which amounts to the same thing so far as dining out is concerned). But as they were replaced by boomers there was no dimunition of early bird specials, oversized portions, or any of the other things that mark the Floridan food culture for what it is.

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #28 of 33

They've even made deformed chickens who cannot stand up because of the huge breast portions.   I try to buy local organic chicken (which have normal to small sized breasts) but in a pinch, I'll pick up a grocery package chicken breasts.   Those things are huge.   I cut them in half and freeze individual portions.  I don't know exactly how big each one is, but over 8 oz comes to mind.   Our household has cut down on meat consumption, so 3 oz is plenty, IMO.

 

But I will say, I am not happy with skimpy portions in a restaurant.  It makes me wonder what else they skimped on, like quality or freshness. 

DD

post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndyGal View Post

They've even made deformed chickens who cannot stand up because of the huge breast portions.    

DD



 

You know IndyGal, I did not know that there was such a thing, but you got me thinking. 

I don't buy much chicken breasts, but I got a huge bag of frozen ones at Costco a few weeks ago and they are freakishly large! 

Then I was watching some program and there they were, those odd looking chickens. 

The poor things couldn't even stand up!! 

The farmer is saying how he has organic birds, free range and all, WHAT?? 

He had some like little tents out in the fields for them to sit under. 

I'm thinking that I'll go back to buying whole chickens and butcher them myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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post #30 of 33

 I KNOW how to eat a lot of food, but in the last several years I have found the giant portions to be obscene. I just can't look at all that food at one time. I have been to restaurants, looked at the portions being served, gotten so turned off that I have walked out. It seems to me that the plates have gotten bigger so the portions fit the plates. It has all become too much. I want value, but I also want to be offered a realistic amount of food of higher quality. We talk about being healthier and eating better and then go on to serve these huge portions. I just can't do it anymore. I am selecting the restaurants very carefully. I don't go to chains, or high end places any more. I go to family run, very simple places where I can ask for a smaller portion, even if I have to pay more. I don't want a potato as big as my head. My point, I guess, is that the plate sizes push the portion sizes. At home, I don't even use dinner plates. Salad plates are a good size as meal plates. I am eating smaller portions and feeling better. 

 

I also think all of the restaurant advertising about large portions has educated to public to expect more. Now it is time to take portion sizes more seriously coming from the food industry. I hope all of the professionals don't take offense, but you have had a part in this, and I think you can have a part in bringing the portion sizes back down, even if it is little by little. None of us needs a potato as big as our heads, but, if it is put in front of us, we will all eat it, with a 1/2 stick of butter ( in those teaspoon size containers). Please take responsibility for your part and help to start a new trend toward more smaller portions.

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