Some things on a menu can be appetizing and economical: water, a dollar double cheeseburger or a hot dog.

Others, on the other hand, can be downright larceny.

The Cheat Sheet says it pays to pay attention to the menu and what you are ordering.
And it's always good to make sure you order smart.

"Although factors like a restaurant’s category (diner, fine dining, etc.), reputation, and location are all figured into the menu prices, certain items are known for having higher price markups than others. Restaurants try to keep their overall food cost — the cost of ingredients — at around the 30% point.

But the ingredients in certain menu items cost restaurants very little money relative to the menu price. These are the menu items that are overpriced from a consumer standpoint. If you’re looking to get the best deal in terms of cost versus value, lean away from the menu items on this list: The markup is huge and you can make these items for much cheaper using ingredients at home."


2. Certain appetizers

Restaurant food cost: Varies, but often less than 25%

Fried appetizers and junk foods like fried mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, and french fries are oftentimes a great deal for restaurants, but not such a great deal for you. You can make these items at home for a fraction of the cost, and if you fry them in oil, they will taste similar to your favorite restaurant junk foods — although this is not the healthiest option, of course.

Think about fried pickles. The dish consists of two or three dill pickles, flour, spices, and water. You can probably make this dish at home for less than a buck. For restaurants, this type of dish is the ultimate money maker, as most establishments already serve pickles with other dishes and have fryers ready and running."

So to win at this, buy pickles and frozen pizza and quit being a snob. Pretty easy. Of course if you want to eat out, guess what? It's gonna cost more. Suck it up or go home.

Olga Nayashkova/ThinkStock
Olga Nayashkova/ThinkStock

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