Join AARP in Celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Nominate Someone for the AAPI Hero Award

 

Hold the Heirloom Tomatoes

How menu design gets you to run up a big check

Getting wise to the tricks of "menu engineering" can save you money when you enjoy a meal out. A restaurant's menu is often deliberately and strategically designed to get you to order up the big bucks.

Sign up for AARP's Money Newsletter.

Woman holding menu - restaurant menu's subtle tricks promote choosing more expensive items

Photo by Getty Images

Save money on your restaurant bill with tips on how to read a menu.

Here are four ways to read it:

  • Avoid the upper right. The people who design menus often put the highest-profit items in the upper right corner of a menu, because that's the first place your eye goes.
  • Look past the boxes. Pricey signature items may be highlighted in a box, circled or otherwise surrounded with fancy type to offset them from the rest of the menu and grab your attention.
  • Recognize buzzwords. Trendy terminology is a tip you're being charged more. "Heirloom tomatoes" will cost more than regular ones, and anything described as "artisanal" will add bucks to your bill.
  • Add the dollar signs back in. One study found that eliminating dollar signs on a menu reduced the "pain of paying" for the dinner, even though the price was the same. A dish listed as "12" seems cheaper than "$12."

Also of interest: Save money at the supermarket. >>

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who specializes in personal finance.

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

Next Article

Read This