Some Unsolicited Advice on How to Eat Better at Your Roleplaying Game Sessions
So you’re ready to start up a new tabletop roleplaying game campaign. It’s been a while, so you’re trying to remember what you need. Books, paper, pencils, dice, miniature figures for combat, a plastic mat, dry erase markers, munchies… OK, let’s stop right there. You should be thinking about food a bit more for a minute.
Why? Because if you’re an older gamer you may not be playing your campaign on a weeknight. College dorm hours are not normal hours: if you’re in your thirties or forties you probably have a family, and almost certainly have a job, that would interfere with a weekly eight-hour marathon session. So maybe you only game a couple of times a month, say in the middle of a weekend afternoon; and if you are gaming at night you’re probably not staying up until 2 AM. Which means that, all stereotypes aside, cheese puffs and Mountain Dew isn’t going to be able to sustain you. Your gaming group is going to need to seriously think about eating something while you play. Things with actual nutrition.
Obviously, I have some suggestions for you in that regard:
First off, don’t actually eat cheese puffs -- or any other really messy food; but that’s the stereotype. The dust that comes off of cheese puffs and onto your fingers will wreck your books if you’re not careful. Worse, the dust can easily wreck your friends’ books, too. Gaming supplements are not cheap.
So, what to eat? Cold cuts work rather well; as Terry Pratchett once had Nanny Ogg note, you cannot go wrong with a ham roll. Honestly, though, you can’t go far wrong with a bag of salad with some grape tomatoes, feta cheese, and/or any other kind of thing that you like with your salad. Sure, salad is what food eats -- but food is not always wrong about that sort of thing. The idea here ultimately is to avoid the empty calories that can cause a sugar crash later.
Which is not to say no sugary foods. You’re an adult; you can eat and drink how you please. But people are less cranky when they’ve gotten a decent meal in them recently. If your gaming table is prone to drama, it may be because people are a little hyped up on white sugar. Just a thought.
Speaking of drinking… unless you can walk home from your game, I’d skip bringing booze. Not because a beer doesn’t go well with a game, but because there’s something sad about bringing home most of a six-pack from a session because people were driving and the gamemaster (GM) didn’t have room in the fridge. But you live right down the street from the GM, by all means: bottoms up.
Generally, you want to buy from the supermarket, not the convenience store. Cheaper, better selection, and you go to the supermarket regularly anyway. Convenience stores are when you’re in a hurry.
If you have money, and your friends perhaps do not, I would recommend having a bit of an open hand when it comes to picking up stuff to eat. If you decide you’re going to be like that to begin with, you won’t feel imposed upon later. Besides, it’s nice to feed people.
If you don’t have that much money, don’t panic: you can still eat pretty well on a limited budget when you’re cooking for four to six. For example: brown up some ground beef. Drain the juice and saute a can of mushrooms in it. Mix together the two, then throw that in a Tupperware; take it to the game with egg noodles. Boil up the egg noodles; heat up the beef/mushrooms; combine, add sour cream, and voila! Beef Stroganoff, more or less. Or bake some lasagna. Or bring a loaf of sliced bread, cheese slices, and a stick of butter; ten minutes of work turns that into a pile of grilled cheese sandwiches.
If you have an absolutely favorite food that you never want to share with anybody, leave it at home.
Having a legitimate "may-I-borrow-your-EpiPen?" food allergy is something that you should should absolutely discuss with the rest of the gaming table. Anything less dire than that should probably be handled discreetly, if indeed it should really be brought up at all.
But most importantly: if you’re worried about any of this, now that I’ve brought it up? ...Relax. It doesn’t matter that you’re secretly pretending to be an adult: so are the rest of us. So is the rest of humanity, really. Don’t over-think this process: keep it as informal as possible. Just make sure that there’s enough for everybody of whatever you bring and it should eventually all work out.
But, really, no cheese puffs.