I'm a light eater but I love buffets. Problem is, I eat about $3.50 worth of food and buffets are upwards of $10.00 or more. And you have to tip (although I tip half of what I normally would if I have to go get the food myself). How do I know I eat only around $3.50 worth? I started getting buffets to go and that's what the total will come to.
My point, I can't eat enough in one sitting for any buffet to be cost effective. But the buffet-to-go at Golden Corral (check your local fave) is only $5.40 at lunch, $5.70 for dinner. At 4:00 they throw 5 ounce steaks on the grill, that's around $2.30 for the steak by itself. When was the last time you paid $2.30 for a steak?
Be careful though - I've gotten steaks labeled 'medium rare' that were grey-dead-overdone and one so riddled with gristle I couldn't cut it with my sharpest knife, I had to gnaw at it like a dog—and you best believe I did. To avoid this, ask the grill master or mistress to cook one for you fresh, the way you want it. And it's nicely seasoned, with MSG no doubt, but they're very tasty at Golden Corral.
Not only that—people were taking home raw steaks at $5.79 a pound, around half the price in the grocery stores! Put it on your own grill, season to taste.
Add a salad and another item with your steak to go, that'll bring you up to around $3.50 and change. Try not to put anything in your tray that sells for less than $5.70 at the store. No bread, mashed potatoes, heavy deserts. Chicken wings come in around $0.90 apiece, not a great deal but okay; get the ones with the most meat, I've found the skin on their wings to be thick and inedible. The spinach mozzarella pizza doesn't weigh very much, delicious, filling, reheats nicely. A slice of pepperoni pizza will cost about a dollar.
I like liver every once in a blue moon but GC's is horrible. The spring rolls are alright, frozen I'm guessing, but they're lightweight. Pork barbeque, when they have it, is another good buy. I'm guessing ribs aren't the best deal, like wings you're paying for the bones you aren't going to eat—then again, rib meat can be pricey.
Don't forget to be nice, the manager knows damn well you're getting over on them.