Food portions are still too large.....

Joined May 5, 2010
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.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
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.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
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.
Joined Feb 8, 2009

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
Joined Dec 17, 2009
Joined Mar 3, 2011
When an order of fish tacos, and fish and chips (in KY Florida) is $14.50 for lunch, YOU BETTER, give them 7 oz.
Joined Apr 3, 2010

, 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????+
Joined Feb 1, 2007
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. 
Joined May 3, 2011
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. 
Joined Jan 5, 2007
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!)
Joined Feb 1, 2007
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.
Joined Jun 14, 2002
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?
Joined Apr 3, 2010
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.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
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.
Joined Jun 12, 2011
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!!
Joined Apr 24, 2011
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.
Joined Jul 6, 2011
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 .
Joined Jan 5, 2007
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.
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