Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sub-Size Me!

As much as I talk about food, I admit there’s more talking going on than eating. With a fairly small appetite, my goal is to experience and taste food, not eat as much as possible per the American stereotype.

For the past several years, McDonald’s has been trying to erase their “Super-Size Me” reputation by going in the opposite direction. First came the dainty little Snack Wrap, a nice Marly-sized portion of protein and starch. Recently they also created a mini-Chicken McNugget meal, since four McNuggets with fries is just enough food to satisfy someone in need of a quick and nutritionally unsound snack.

At a time when soaring food costs challenge the possibility of profits for restaurants, I find the amount of food many sit-down restaurants put on plates to be discomforting and often unnecessary. The assumption is that all entrée-ordering patrons have the same desire to over-consume, and that’s not always the case. Some leftovers are fine for taking home, while others, not so much. For instance, take the excessive 3- or 4-egg omelet, a mainstay on most breakfast menus across the country, at diners and fancy brunch spots and even vegetarian restaurants. Eggs are quite filling, and a plate-sized omelet can make a person feel like a sunken ship for the rest of the day. Combine all those eggs with a fistful of onions, meat and cheese—along with the hash browns and toast that come with—and you’ve created something that should be feeding two to three people instead of just one.

The omelets served at restaurants are nothing like the ones I make at home, with only 1 or 2 eggs. Even Julia Child’s famous French omelet contains only two eggs. That’s why I wish it was more acceptable to go out and say “Sub-size me!” I have tried, and get dirty looks. When I’ve ordered egg sandwiches and asked for only one egg instead of two, the server will say awkwardly, “It’ll cost the same,” and I never care. I’m not sure why this is so horrible a request for some, whether regarding a sandwich or an omelet, as it would avoid so much wasting of food, calories and even food costs. Plus I don’t know many people who take home leftover eggs.

However, there is one food item I like that is already sub-sized, yet because I'm not supposed to buy it, ordering it is somewhat embarrassing. I’m referring to the “kid’s pack” at movie theaters, the brilliant sub-sized $5.50 tray of popcorn, candy, and a tiny soda. Movie theaters should co-brand this item as the “Eats Like a Bird pack.” I’m pretty sure many women who order the “kid’s pack” aren’t ordering it for any kids. Don’t believe me? How many little kids prefer Diet Coke with their popcorn? At first I got nervous ordering this snack for myself, but after hearing how much fat is in a small movie theater popcorn bag, I figured why shouldn’t I be able to better control my intake of a favorite movie snack by ordering a teensy size that comes with a soda and candy for the same price as a small bag of popcorn?

People should be able to order the portion they want at a nice restaurant or at the movies. As a society we should stop assuming everyone wants to gorge themselves with food just because we can.


  1. You know how easily I get filled up,yet most restaurants will not allow me to order the children's portion which would be just enough. The only one that does is Tony's. I order the child's portion of ravioli or baked ziti, for instance, and the portion is just right with a couple of pieces of garlic bread. When I've ordered the regular adult portion, I've taken it home and thrown it away a few days later. What a waste! Yet, I've heard people talking about a local deli, marveling at the size of the corned beef sandwiches - they have at least a pound of meat in them. xoxoxo Mom

  2. In the restaurant's defense, if everyone ordered children's portions--which are usually incredibly cheap--the restaurant would never make any money! A lot of people would take advantage. So I do think this is a little bit different than what I'm referring to. I think there can be smaller portions for similar price, maybe just $1-2 cheaper. Or there are some places that offer small and large portions at dinner and you get to choose.

  3. some places let you split an order with someone, but will charge an extra dollar or two for the "plating."

    usually if i go out to eat i have a couple of appetizers instead of an entree. sadly, the price is about the same but i don't end up with that "sunken ship" feeling you mention.... and the restaurant gets to stay in business.