I remember all the arguments my family used to get into every time we decided to treat ourselves to a nice restaurant dinner rather than staying in again. Things got especially heated when I decided to give up eating meat and my brother would insist on a steakhouse.

Luckily, we could always find a middle ground by heading to a buffet! The crisp salads and sauted veggies worked perfectly for me while everyone else enjoyed their favorite meat dishes. And obviously, we all loved digging into the dessert options.

Of course, there are rules that everyone needs to follow when they line up with their fellow diners to make a selection. Whether youre enjoying some endless slices of pizza, taking a culinary trip around the world with General Tso, or mixing it all together, its important to keep the tips below in mind so everyone can have a nice time out.

Did we forget an essential piece of buffet advice? Leave a comment and be sure to SHARE with your loved ones!

Thumbnail sources: Trip Advisor,Gas Food No Lodging,Yelp

1. Be Picky

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Choose your buffet wisely. It might be tempting to go for the biggest bang for your buck. But if the restaurant doesnt properly maintain their heating and cooling of dishes, which isvital to keeping bacteria at bay, you might find yourself asthe one in six diners sufferinga nasty stomachache afteryour meal.

2. Bring Hand Sanitizer

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You should probably always have this on you. But when youre in an establishment where youre using the same trays and serving utensils as hundreds of other diners, you will want to give your hands a wipe down after each trip to grab more food.

3. Watch Kids Closely

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Don’t watchjust your own kids, but those running around you, too. That sneeze guard doesnt really work for the tiny youngsters, so be extra careful when selecting an item after theyve been there. And for your own kids, keep an eye on their hands, as the chafing dishes can be hot!

4. Time Matters

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Arriving closer to their opening schedule or meal shift will always get you the best possible selection, rather than those items that have been waiting around possibly for hours. Lunch is definitely thebest bet for most establishments.

5. Have A Game Plan

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Dont dive in and aimlessly wander around the various stations. Take the time to map out your course of action in your mind. Otherwise, you might endure the wrath of some hungry folks behind you in line.

6. Follow The Traffic Flow

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If you missed something along the line you want to try, dont be the jerk who starts charging back through in the opposite direction. Either go to the back again or wait until your next trip instead of causing chaos.

7. Taste Test

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Use that first course as a sampling session, with small amounts of the foods that intrigue you, before going back for full helpings of what you really love.

8. Remember Moderation

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Most folks walk into these restaurants with the intention of eatingmore than they paid for, which is why the average consumption at a buffet is over 2,000 calories per person. Thats closer to what you should be eating in an entire day, so try not to overdo it.

9. Stay Hydrated

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Like most fast food restaurants, buffets tend to drastically over-salt their food in order to make it taste fresher longer, so drinking plenty of water is essential.

10. Take Dessert To Go

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Chances are youve already packed away plenty of food, so if the buffet will allow you, grabthat dessert for the road. Takinga breather on the drive home before chowing down on a cookie or slice of cake can help you digest more easily.

11. Tip Your Servers

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You might think that since youre the one going back and forth on your own for the food, you can take it easy on the tip. Of course, while youre up and about, the staff is making sure your table is clean and definitely deservesa tipfor juggling several tables of families at the same time! A good rule of thumb is about $1 to $2 per plate.

Did we miss your favorite tips for a pleasant buffet experience? Let us know below and be sure toSHAREwith your loved ones!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/buffet-advice/

11 Crucial Things You Need To Know Before Eating At Your Next Buffet