How to: Eat at an All-Inclusive

Step 1: Do not fill up on carbs.

Those people you see with bread, rice, spaghetti, and mashed potatoes? Amateurs. You can get the exact same thing, but perhaps tastier and fresher, at home. It’s cheap, it’s filling, and it’s not that good. Leave it alone.

These churros are an exception to the carb-limiting rule, because they may have been the most delicious thing I ate all trip. Certainly the best sweet, by far.

Step 2: Eat what tastes good to you.

If you’re not a huge seafood fan, don’t feel like you need to pack away the shrimp and octopus just because it would be expensive at home. Just stick with the beef and leave more of the good stuff to us right-minded people who enjoy it.

Step 3: Experiment.

Speaking of octopus, though, a buffet is a good time to try new things. I’ve found the food at all-inclusives to range from generally good to downright delicious, and since you’ve already paid for it, you may as well be adventurous. An all-inclusive was the first place I ever tried octopus, and now it’s one of my favorite foods–when I can get it done well.

Ceviche for illustration only. Although this was some really tasty octopus, I paid for it, separately, on Cozumel.

Step 4: Be proactive.

All-inclusives generally have two options for dinner: the buffet, which is a slightly larger version of what you had for lunch, and specialty table-service restaurants, which you need to book ahead for. There are limited seatings at these restaurants, so especially if you’ve got a short trip, be sure to make your bookings as far ahead as your resort allows. Otherwise, you’re going to miss out on some more high-end food than you can find in chafing dishes.

Step 5: Pace yourself.

No one is limiting you to three meals a day. Being an early bird, I tend to go for an early breakfast, an early-ish lunch, a late-afternoon snack/second lunch, and then the late dinner seating. That being said, because food is available all the time, there’s no reason to stuff yourself in a marathon gorge-fest. That’s for fools who want to give themselves a stomachache and, thereby, possibly miss a meal later. Now you feel sick and you’re wasting money. Good job.

Along the same lines, look for tomorrow’s post on how to drink at an all-inclusive.

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