restaurants http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/709/all en-US 8 Terrible Restaurant Values You Should Avoid http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-restaurant-values-you-should-avoid <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-terrible-restaurant-values-you-should-avoid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_restaurant_000033602722.jpg" alt="Family eating value meal at a restaurant " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're like millions of Americans, you probably dine out at least once a week. For many, it's a favorite pastime &mdash; a time to relax with friends or family and experiment with different cuisines. So, it probably comes as no surprise that restaurant meals can cost significantly more than preparing meals at home (there's no shortage of articles underscoring this on Wise Bread).</p> <p>But if you're trying to save money when eating out, there are a few restaurant items you should consider skipping. These items feature unnecessarily high mark-ups that make them a poor choice for folks on a budget. Here's a breakdown of some of these worst restaurant values. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items?ref=seealso">Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Menu Items?</a>)</p> <h2>1. Salads</h2> <p>Whether you're trying to eat clean or simply reduce your calorie intake, you might choose a salad over a less-healthy menu item. This may be good for your physical health, but usually not your financial health. I've very stupidly paid up to $22 for a nothing-special salad, and according to Restaurant.com, it only costs a restaurant an average of $1.60 to make one. You're better off going to the grocery store and buying your own lettuce and vegetables.</p> <p>&quot;Salads can be prepared with minimal time at home and with ease,&quot; says Natasha M. Campbell, founder and CEO of Lifestyle Success Unlimited. &quot;Take the time to prep the night before and pay yourself for your time and effort versus the restaurant.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Tea, Soda, and Alcohol</h2> <p>Many patrons prefer flavored drinks, such as alcohol, soda, or tea over a glass of free, filtered tap water. The cost of beverages might seem like a small price to pay, especially since you can order soda or tea for under $3 and receive free refills. But when you take into account that restaurants only pay about $0.35 per teabag and how fountain drinks are mostly tap water, chances are you're not getting your money's worth. Alcoholic beverages aren't any better.</p> <p>&quot;Bottles of wine are usually marked up 100%, and a glass of wine can be as much as five times over what the restaurant paid,&quot; says Kate Krader, restaurant editor at Food &amp; Wine magazine. Ouch.</p> <h2>3. Appetizers</h2> <p>Appetizers are one of the biggest mind tricks in the restaurant game. These items are purposely priced slightly cheaper than entrees to make it look like you're getting a bargain. But if you examine appetizers and entrees with similar ingredients and compare prices for each, you might find that appetizers &mdash; although a smaller portion &mdash; are the victim of price inflation.</p> <p>According to Jody Pennette, the founder of CB5 Restaurant Group, &quot;Restaurants have been raising the prices of appetizers disproportionately to the increase in food costs over the past 15 years.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Kid's Meals</h2> <p>Even though many restaurants have a kid's menu, children can be picky eaters. If you go to a restaurant and order two or three kid's meals, you could end up spending money on food your kid doesn't finish. The portions are smaller and the prices cheaper, so you assume you're getting a deal, even if your kid doesn't clean their plate. But why waste money if you don't have to? There are plenty of restaurants that offer a free kid's meal for each paying adult &mdash; and that's where you should be eating.</p> <h2>5. Desserts</h2> <p>Many people can't wait to finish off their meal with a decadent dessert (myself included), but it'll cost you &mdash; and I'm talking more than calories. Restaurant desserts are notoriously overpriced. On average, we might pay $6 or $7 for a single slice of cake or pie, yet we can buy a whole cake at a grocery store or bakery for about the same price. Or, we can prepare the dessert ourselves for much less at home. A good trick to avoid this trap is to put a piece of candy or two in your pocket or purse before dinner. A couple Hershey's kisses at the end of the meal will quell those chocolate cravings and save you some dough.</p> <h2>6. Restaurant Specials</h2> <p>Don't fall for the daily or nightly specials. It may sound like a mouth-watering treat, but it can also be the chef's way of getting rid of leftovers in the kitchen, and charging customers a premium for no reason.</p> <p>&quot;Specials are just an expensive way for the chef to clean out his or her kitchen of leftovers,&quot; says Sarah Zorn, editorial director of the blog Restaurant Girl.</p> <h2>7. Pasta</h2> <p>A box of dried pasta at the grocery store costs pennies per serving, and tomato and other pasta sauces are also cheap to prepare. On average, it doesn't take too much time or a lot of ingredients for a restaurant to prepare a basic pasta dish, yet many dishes have a markup between six and 10 times the cost. It's easier for us to justify higher pricing for dishes that take longer to prepare, but if you can whip up a simple pasta dish in your kitchen in no time and at a seriously low cost, it's financially beneficial to prepare it yourself.</p> <h2>8. Breakfast and Brunch</h2> <p>A fancy brunch or breakfast outside the house can get the morning off to an enjoyable start. But since breakfast food is incredibly inexpensive and quick to prepare, you're probably getting duped financially. A restaurant can purchase eggs, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, milk, and other breakfast items in bulk for cheap. Eggs retail for about $0.10 each, and it costs a restaurant practically nothing to prepare pancakes, hash browns, and toast. However, I've seen restaurants charge as much as $10 or $12 for a simple breakfast plate with these items. Don't get me wrong &mdash; I worship at the cathedral of brunch &mdash; but I participate much more sparingly than I used to.</p> <p><em>What dishes do you avoid because of the cost when dining out?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-restaurant-values-you-should-avoid">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-water-can-save-you-977-a-year">How Water Can Save You $977 a Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-overpriced-restaurant-items-that-waste-your-money">13 Overpriced Restaurant Items That Waste Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees">“Avoid These Fast Food Items,” Say Fast Food Employees</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink bad values eating out markup overpriced restaurants Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:00:09 +0000 Mikey Rox 1356104 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Tricks for Enjoying Fine Dining on a Budget http://www.wisebread.com/7-tricks-for-enjoying-fine-dining-on-a-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-tricks-for-enjoying-fine-dining-on-a-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-lunch-fancy-restaurant-Dollarphotoclub_55224714.jpg" alt="couple fancy restaurant" title="couple fancy restaurant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's nothing quite like a luxurious meal that's carefully made, served to you under romantic lighting, and placed onto a fresh white tablecloth. Sadly, the price can be prohibitive for many of us, and instead we end up spending our night with takeout and a bottle of $5 wine (not that there's anything wrong what that!). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-swanky-sauces-to-glamorize-dinner?ref=seealso" style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.38;">8 Swanky Sauces to Glamorize Dinner</a>)</p> <p>The good news is that armed with a few tips, you can enjoy fine dining without emptying out your savings. As always, a good place to start is the Internet: Pick a few restaurants you are interested in and look up their websites, reviews and local publications. There you can find some valuable information, like a sample of prices, what meals they serve, what kind of dishes they offer, and if they have any special deals. Keep an eye out for coupons on deal sites and seasonal events like Restaurant Week. And be sure take a look at the following seven hacks for an enjoyable dining experience without the bummer ending.</p> <h2>1. Go for Lunch</h2> <p>Many fine dining establishments are also open for lunch, and while some just serve a smaller menu of the dishes they serve for dinner at the same price, others offer some real deals.</p> <p>Bouley, a well-known and well-loved restaurant in New York City is known for their tasting menus. Their dinner version is six courses and costs a cool $185, while their five course lunch version is $55. It may not have all of the same flourishes, but you are still eating a fancy pants tasting menu at Bouley without having to take out a second mortgage.</p> <p>Blackbird, a celebrated spot in Chicago offers a lunch prix fixe that is $25 for three courses, which is cheaper than most of their single dinner entrees. They also offer a complete lunch menu that runs half the price of their dinner menu. Check out your restaurant of choice's menus and compare lunch and dinner to see if they offer midday bargains.</p> <h2>2. Go on a Weeknight</h2> <p>Not surprisingly, Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest times at all restaurants, let alone the really nice ones. Some establishments offer discounts or special (cheaper) menus on weekdays, especially Monday through Wednesday &mdash; Tuesday is statistically the least busy day for restaurants. Call or check a restaurant's website to find out if they offer weekday deals. City publications also like to do articles about such deals, like this round-up of <a href="http://www.timeout.com/los-angeles/restaurants/cheap-eats-in-la-the-best-restaurant-weekly-specials">Weekday Dinner Deals in LA</a>.</p> <p>Little Dom's, a popular Italian spot in Los Angeles that frequently serves celebrities, offers a $15 three-course family-style dinner on Monday nights along with drink specials. Just an entree can run up to $30 on a normal night, making a Monday night reservation a no-brainer.</p> <h2>3. Eat at the Bar</h2> <p>Restaurants don't just put a bar in their upscale dining rooms so that the liquor and bartender have someplace to hang out &mdash; it also adds seating without taking up as much room as tables. To reward you for sitting elbow to elbow with your stranger neighbors, many places offer bar specials, happy hours, or even an entire menu only available at the bar.</p> <p>Spago is Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in Beverly Hills and is highly regarded by eaters and critics alike. The bill can easily surpass $100-200 per person even at lunch, but luckily they have a bar with it's own &quot;bar bites&quot; menu. Go during happy hour from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and order a drink and some &quot;bites&quot; and relish in the fact that you're sitting in Spago without maxing out your credit card. Call your local fine dining spots and see if they have <a href="http://lovehappyhour.com/Articles/July2013/UpscaleHappyHoursLA.html">similar deals</a>. Be sure to mention that you want to eat at the bar when making your reservation.</p> <h2>4. BYOB</h2> <p>While some fine dining spots are pushing their 15-page wine lists, others are becoming more open-minded. A surprising number of restaurants are offering BYOB now, even if they offer wine.</p> <p>Goosefoot, largely hailed as one of the best restaurants in Chicago, permits BYOB with just a $10 corkage fee. The food will still cost you a pretty penny, but you'll save big bucks on your drinks while eating top-notch food. Look for articles about <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2013-06-28/chicago-restaurants-byo-fine-dining">BYOB spots in your city,</a> or call and ask about a restaurant's policy. Then do a little math and compare their drink prices with bringing your own plus the corkage fee. The numbers are often in your favor!</p> <h2>5. Don't Buy $50 Leftovers</h2> <p>Finally time to order? Take a look around. What are people ordering? How big are the portions for appetizers and entrees? How much food are they ordering? Pay attention to the details and it will help prevent over-ordering and a $50 leftover situation. Make a plan with your fellow diners and share dishes so that everyone can try more things without over-ordering.</p> <h2>6. Hold That Drink Order</h2> <p>All wait staff is trained to ask for your drink order immediately, or even offer you a drink while you wait for a table. While there is nothing wrong with this policy, since you might be thirsty or might actually want a drink, they also do it in hopes that you'll order more drinks as the night goes on. Start early and you can easily be a drink in before you even order your food. Alcohol charges can add up quickly, so hold that drink order until you order food and enjoy your wine with the meal. Or, if you're a digestif fan, wait for dessert. If you don't want to give up that pre-dinner drink, pregame at home or at a lower-priced bar. It can also help to make a drink limit for yourself at the beginning of the night and stick to it.</p> <h2>7. Skip the Extras</h2> <p>Or, to really save money, don't order drinks at all. Drink orders can easily double your bill since alcohol typically <a href="http://deadspin.com/why-the-hell-does-your-drink-cost-so-much-1454231900">has the highest mark-up</a> at restaurants. You came for the food anyway, right? Plus, more alcohol equals more spending in more ways than one: a tipsy diner is more likely to order whatever they please and be surprised at their credit card bill later. If the restaurant isn't known for their desserts, then skip that, too, and grab some of your favorite ice cream on the way home instead. It will extend your fun night and save you an extra $10-$20.</p> <p><em>How do you enjoy fine dining for less?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/laurel-randolph">Laurel Randolph</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tricks-for-enjoying-fine-dining-on-a-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items">Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Restaurant Menu Items?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts">40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more">12 New Ways Restaurants Trick You to Spend More</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink dining out Fine Dining restaurants Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:00:08 +0000 Laurel Randolph 1304189 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/young-woman-restaurant-beach-Dollarphotoclub_67762409.jpg" alt="young woman restaurant" title="young woman restaurant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco continue to dazzle and delight foodies, many cities are in the midst of a culinary renaissance that is not to be missed, and often at far lower prices than these more expensive traditional foodie towns. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-of-americas-awesomest-cheap-cities?ref=seealso">10 of America's Awesomest Cheap Cities</a>)</p> <p>Artisanal food, locavore, and farm-to-table movements are spreading like wildfire to every corner of the U.S. So here are seven U.S. cities that will make your taste buds and tummy happy without breaking the bank.</p> <h2>1. Orlando, Florida</h2> <p>Wait, what? Isn't Central Florida home to strip malls and fast food establishments galore? Well, yes, it is. But it's also got a burgeoning food scene that's getting national attention. <a href="https://www.eastendmkt.com/">East End Market</a> is an artisan market occupied by local food entrepreneurs in the newly revitalized Mills 50 District. <a href="http://www.caskandlarder.com/">Cask &amp; Larder</a> and <a href="http://txokoskitchen.com/">Txokos Basque Kitchen</a> have garnered James Beard Award nominations, and Iron Chef Morimoto will open a flagship operation of his widely-acclaimed sushi restaurant in the new Disney Springs. If you're a frugal foodie, Orlando is a place that should be on your &quot;to visit&quot; list.</p> <h2>2. Grand Rapids, Michigan</h2> <p>Grand Rapids is a scenic and charming city situated on the Grand River. The <a href="http://www.experiencegr.com/about-grand-rapids/colleges-universities/secchia-institute-for-culinary-education/">Secchia Institute for Culinary Education</a> at Grand Rapids Community College is one of the country's top culinary schools, so it's no wonder that the food scene here is hopping. For the latest in food trends, head to <a href="http://www.experiencegr.com/things-to-do/shopping/downtown-market/">Downtown Market Grand Rapids</a>. Only two years old, it offers a full year indoor market full of artisan food businesses as well as a huge outdoor summer market and culinary events of all shapes and sizes.</p> <p>Craft breweries are a big deal in this city and include gems such as Founder's Brewing, <a href="http://www.experiencegr.com/listings/HopCat/5636/0/0/">HopCat</a>, <a href="http://www.experiencegr.com/listings/Grand-Rapids-Brewing-Company/5720/0/0/">Grand Rapids Brewing Company</a>, and <a href="http://www.experiencegr.com/listings/The-B-O-B-/2004/0/0/">The B.O.B</a>.</p> <p>The fertile soil of Western Michigan creates one of the finest growing regions in the country. For this reason it's <a href="http://www.experiencegr.com/restaurants/farm-to-fork/">home to numerous farm-to-table restaurants</a> that make dinner a difficult, and delicious, choice.</p> <h2>3. Madison, Wisconsin</h2> <p>Love farmer's markets? Then you need to check out Madison. With a young and highly educated population, the <a href="https://madisonfarmersmarket.com/">Saturday Farmers' Market in Madison</a> is one of the largest in the country with 200+ farmers selling their freshest crops and food products. Additionally, there is also the Dane County Farmers' Market, Eastside Farmers' Market, Northside Farmers' Market, and South Madison Farmers' Market. And you thought all they made in Wisconsin was cheese!</p> <h2>4. Boise, Idaho</h2> <p>People in Boise are known for their friendliness and easygoing ways. The food scene reflects that with its many casual and welcoming dining options. <a href="http://cafevicino.com/">Cafe Vicinio</a> serves up delectable Italian eats. Winemaking is making a big splash in Boise thanks to local businesses like <a href="http://boise.coop/wineshop/">Boise Co-op Wine Shop</a>. With the third largest Basque population (outside of Spain and Argentina), Basque cuisine is thriving. <a href="http://www.bargernika.com/">Bar Gernika</a> is a wonderful stop situated right in an area known as Basque Block.</p> <h2>5. Cincinnati, Ohio</h2> <p>Cincinnati chili is one of my favorite varieties of chili, but this city is now known for much more than that when it comes to culinary innovation. The pulled pork at <a href="http://elisbarbeque.com/">Eli's</a>, the finest French croissants and quiches at <a href="http://jrtable.com/french-crust-cafe/">French Crust Cafe</a>, and the authentic Indian food available in every neighborhood across the city prove that Cincinnati has diversity and imagination in its many bustling kitchens.</p> <h2>6. Reno, Nevada</h2> <p>Nevada has another city besides Las Vegas? It sure does! Convenient to Lake Tahoe, Reno showcases its unique culinary scene through its many and varied farmers' markets, local eateries, and cafes. There are so many to mention and visit that it's best to just <a href="http://www.ediblerenotahoe.com/2012-01-27-04-24-16/eat-local-guide">check out this link</a> to see what's on offer that speaks to your taste buds.</p> <h2>7. New Orleans, Louisiana</h2> <p>You'd really have to work hard to eat badly in New Orleans. This city is just as famous for its food as it is for its music, mystery, and revelry. A beignet and a chicory coffee at <a href="http://www.cafedumonde.com/">Cafe Du Monde</a> is the best way to start any morning. Then it's a seafood, gumbo, and cajun paradise around every corner. You can eat well for very little money in New Orleans though it offers a huge variety of price options to fit every budget: the fried chicken stand at <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/brothers-food-mart-new-orleans-4">Brothers Food Mart</a>, mid-range <a href="http://boucherie-nola.com/">Boucherie</a>, and fancy <a href="http://www.restaurantaugust.com/">Restaurant August</a> are some of the most popular food meccas in a city that reveres and celebrates cuisine with wild abandon.</p> <p><em>Have you found culinary gems for a small price tag in your city? Please share your recommendations in the comments below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items">Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Restaurant Menu Items?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts">40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-practice-math-when-you-leave-a-tip">Do You Practice Math When You Leave a Tip?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tricks-for-enjoying-fine-dining-on-a-budget">7 Tricks for Enjoying Fine Dining on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Food and Drink Cheap Food dining out foodie restaurants Tue, 10 Feb 2015 10:00:04 +0000 Christa Avampato 1286591 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Unexpected Ways Cheaper Gas Is Boosting Your Pocketbook http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-ways-cheaper-gas-is-boosting-your-pocketbook <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-unexpected-ways-cheaper-gas-is-boosting-your-pocketbook" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-pumping-gas-Dollarphotoclub_72716583.jpg" alt="woman pumping gas" title="woman pumping gas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of the greatest gifts of this holiday season has been the low price of gasoline. With prices well below $3 across much of the country, drivers haven't filled their tanks for so little in years.</p> <p>The basic benefit of lower gas prices is obvious: It's money that you can invest or spend elsewhere.</p> <p>But there are some surprising other financial benefits as well. Here are eight unexpected ways that cheap gas is helping your wallet or pocketbook.</p> <h2>1. Food Could Get Cheaper</h2> <p>Most grocery stores ship their items via truck. So if delivery companies are paying less for gas, those savings could be passed on to consumers. The Department of Labor reports that <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm">food prices have risen</a> a monthly average of .25% over the last 12 months. But food went up just 0.1% in October, perhaps as a result of cheaper transport costs.</p> <h2>2. Restaurant Stocks Are Rising in Value</h2> <p>People are spending less on gas, so they are likely to have more discretionary income. Thus, families are more likely to go out to eat. In fact, spending on restaurants and bars rose nearly 1% in October, according to the Department of Commerce. DineEquity, which owns IHOP and Applebee's, has been trading near its 52-week high. The same goes for Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, Longhorn, and other popular eateries. The Dow Jones U.S. Restaurant &amp; Bars Index rose more than 5% in November.</p> <h2>3. You're Spending More on Fun Instead of Just Necessities</h2> <p>With a little extra money in their pockets, Americans are spending more on things they enjoy doing. The U.S. Commerce Department said that in October, sales of sporting goods and <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-retail-sales-rose-0-3-in-october-1415971907">items for hobbies rose 1.2%</a> &mdash; higher than any other brick-and-mortar retail category.</p> <h2>4. You Can Get More Car for Your Money</h2> <p>If you've got a big family or a lot of stuff to haul, you may be in need of a bigger vehicle. With gas prices low, the operating cost of that bigger car may have fallen to reasonable levels. In fact, the Federal Reserve said that it has recently seen an <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/beigebook/beigebook201412.htm">increase in sales of SUVs</a> and light trucks in some parts of the country. (Be smart, however. Gas prices may not be this low forever, and it always makes sense to drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can.)</p> <h2>5. Getting Clean Is Less Expensive</h2> <p>If you like to take a hot shower every day &mdash; and let's hope you do &mdash; you may find it will cost less to heat your water. And if the price of oil stays low, don't be surprised to see lower prices for shampoo, which has petroleum-based ingredients. Same goes for the shaving cream, toothpaste, and deodorant, and lots of other products.</p> <h2>6. Home Improvements Could Cost Less</h2> <p>Think about all the things used to construct your home that are made with petroleum. Paint is a big one, along with nylon carpeting, upholstery, caulking, plastic piping, and parts of your dishwasher, and refrigerator. Even the toolbox might cost less if it is made out of plastic.</p> <h2>7. Your Sport or Concert Tickets May Be More Valuable</h2> <p>Low gas prices could allow some sport or music fans to travel farther for their next event. Organizers of upcoming college bowl games, for instance, have indicated that fans will be more likely to go on road trips to attend. Higher attendance creates ticket scarcity, which is great for those who may have tickets they are looking to sell.</p> <h2>8. Job Opportunities Broaden</h2> <p>When gas prices are high, you may not be so eager to take that sales job with customers spanning a four-state area. Similarly, you might turn down that offer for the great job in a town 50 miles away. Lower gas prices expand the number of jobs you might be willing to consider, because the cost-benefit equation shifts in your favor.</p> <p><em>Have you noticed lower gas prices helping your budget? Tell us how in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-ways-cheaper-gas-is-boosting-your-pocketbook">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-eating-out-cheaply">Tips For Eating Out Cheaply</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-your-partner-financially-unfaithful-1-in-3-are">Is Your Partner Financially Unfaithful? (1 in 3 Are)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-things-that-young-adults-absolutely-need-to-know-about-money">21 Things That Young Adults Absolutely Need to Know About Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance as prices Food home improvements restaurants saving Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:00:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1275170 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Painless Ways to Split the Check http://www.wisebread.com/6-painless-ways-to-split-the-check <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-painless-ways-to-split-the-check" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends-smartphone-restuarant-177838052.jpg" alt="friends smartphone resturant" title="friends smartphone resturant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's 2014, also known as the year we all ought to rid ourselves of the long, awkward shuffle of money and pencil-drawn arithmetic that happens each time the bill comes after a nice dinner out with friends. Why? Because there's an app for that &mdash; actually, there are six of 'em &mdash; and you've already proven you need it. Plus waitresses across the globe are tired of splitting the bill between three cards and a crumpled up fistfull of cash. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/who-should-pay-for-the-first-date?ref=seealso">Who Should Pay for the First Date?</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our roundup of the top six apps made to relieve the burden of shared expenses. (Note: If you're the type to try and dodge paying for the guacamole everyone tasted, there's not an app out there that'll help you with that.)</p> <h2>1. Splitwise</h2> <p>This free web and mobile app helps friend <a href="https://www.splitwise.com/">settle up everything from shared vacation expenses to the electric bill</a>. It's an organizer that allows large groups of people to collectively break down all types of expenses and see what they owe. All data is stored in the cloud, so it can be accessed and shared from anywhere. The app also offers users mediation tools including a fairness calculator to help settle disputes.</p> <h2>2. Divvy</h2> <p>Divvy is a quick and easy three-step debt settler app for iPhone users. It works like this: Snap a photo of the bill with your phone, drag each item to the name of the person who ordered it, and <a href="http://www.divvythatup.com/">see how much everyone owes</a>. Bonus: You can check that you've been charged the correct amount for each item before itemizing the order. Divvy is 99 cents in the App Store.</p> <h2>3. Cover</h2> <p>Some of the top restaurants in New York and San Francisco are now allowing customers to pay with Cover, a free bill-paying app that allows groups of people large and small to split and pay the check <a href="http://www.paywithcover.com/">without ever having to flag down the waiter</a>. Never again will you be stuck waiting for the bill. Simply tell your waiter that you'll be paying with Cover when you sit down to dine at any of the <a href="http://www.paywithcover.com/cover-restaurants/">113 restaurants that support the app</a>. Cover is free, available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and works best if everyone at the table is signed up.</p> <h2>4. Billr</h2> <p>Groups of up to 16 people can use this app to <a href="http://billr.me/">sort and split the bill, plus add gratuity</a>. All you have to do plug in the price of each dish. You can then show each person their individualized bill on your phone screen or send out a text message that lists the breakdown of everybody's debts. Billr is $1.99 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.</p> <h2>5. Advanced Bill Splitter</h2> <p>This Android-friendly app is free and performs much like its Apple supported counterpart Billr. Simply plug in everyone's order, including split items like that bottle of Malbec, and the app will spit out <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.rejinderi.billsplitter">personalized meal totals for each diner</a>. Much easier than breaking out the calculator.</p> <h2>6. Receipt Ninja</h2> <p>Perfect for road trips and weekend getaways with friends, Receipt Ninja lets you track and break down shared expenses on multiple receipts. It's a great way to <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.serene.receiptninja&amp;hl=en">divvy up gas, tolls, lunch, and hotel charges all in one fell swoop</a>. You can also export the data in spreadsheet form straight to Excel. And it's supported by both Apple and Android mobile devices. There's a free version, but if you want to avoid those annoying ads you'll need to cough up $2.99 in the App Store.</p> <p><em>How do you settle up at the end of the evening? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-painless-ways-to-split-the-check">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts">40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more">12 New Ways Restaurants Trick You to Spend More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/breaking-the-bread-code-how-to-get-the-freshest-loaf">Breaking the Bread Code: How to Get the Freshest Loaf</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-spend-less-on-your-significant-other-and-not-get-killed">9 Ways to Spend Less on Your Significant Other (And Not Get Killed!)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Shopping dining out friends and money restaurant check restaurants splitting the bill Tue, 16 Sep 2014 21:00:14 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1210859 at http://www.wisebread.com Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Restaurant Menu Items? http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-reading-menu-122565575-small.jpg" alt="man reading menu" title="man reading menu" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Americans love to dine out. We spend an average of <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2013/09/25/lunchtime-americans-spend-nearly-1k-annually-eating-out-for-lunch/">$1,000 annually</a> just on going to lunch. In total, we each spend about $2700 annually in restaurants and on take-out.</p> <p>And where I live (New York City), it's that much worse. So I decided to do a price comparison to discover the restaurant menu items that serve up the biggest cost difference from homemade versions. As a reference, I used the menus of my local, reasonably priced diners and mom-and-pop restaurants. If you eat out at more expensive restaurants, the price difference will be even more extreme. Here's what I found.</p> <h2>1. Pasta</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/pasta%20dish.jpg" /></p> <p>Nothing could be simpler to prepare at home than pasta. Whether you buy dry or fresh pasta or make your own (as I recently started doing), pasta is generally a ripoff at most restaurants. My local Italian place serves its simplest and least expensive pasta dish for $10. I can make the exact same simple dish at home for less than $1.</p> <h2>2. Salad</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/salad%20dish.jpg" /></p> <p>Whether you buy your produce at the grocery store, farmer's market, your local CSA, corner produce vendor, or grow your own, a simple veggie salad is a dish you should avoid at restaurants, especially during the summer months when local fresh vegetables are plentiful. I tallied up what it costs to make a simple salad at home with ingredients from my grocery store, and it costs less than $2 for all of the ingredients. My local diner charges $9 for the same salad.</p> <h2>3. Wine</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/wine%20bottles.jpg" /></p> <p>Wine is my drink of choice. A reasonably priced local wine bar in my neighborhood has wines at $8 by the glass and $34 by the bottle (a bargain compared to a lot of New York City restaurants). My local wine store, however, has these same bottles for $14 each. A bottle easily serves four good-sized glasses of vino.</p> <h2>4. Coffee and Tea</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/coffee%20cup.jpg" /></p> <p>We are a country of coffee lovers. As many as <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/04/09/coffee-mania/2069335/">83% of Americans drink coffee</a> and in total we consume 587 million cups of joe per year. Excluding Starbucks, local coffee shops, and the artisanal coffee retailers that tend to charge high per cup prices, I toddled over to my local diner to browse their coffee and tea selection. They cost a minimum of $1.55 per cup. Not bad, especially with free refills. Then I broke down what it costs to brew my favorite gourmet coffee and tea at home and found it only costs $0.25 for the coffee and $0.15 for the tea. Grab your travel mug and home brew your morning fix.</p> <h2>5. Juice and Sodas</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/soda%20cup.jpg" /></p> <p>These are items best bought at the grocery store. Juice is $3.50 per glass at my diner. Soda is $2.50 per glass. I recently bought 64 ounce bottles of each through Freshdirect for $2.50. Doing the math, a glass of either at home costs me $0.31. At the restaurant, stick with good ol' free tap water.</p> <h2>6. Dessert</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/pie%20slice.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Given my sweet tooth, I'm always tempted by the dessert case. My frugal ways help me to steer clear of ordering, however. A slice of pie, conservatively, runs about $5 per at my local diner. I can buy an entire 8-slice organic, fresh-baked pie at my Whole Foods for $10. If I bake that same pie myself, the cost for the whole pie is about the cost of a single slice at the diner.</p> <h2>7. Simple Sandwiches</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/grilled%20cheese.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>When it's lunch time and I'm out and about in the city, I often crave the simplest sandwich. Grilled cheese, ham and swiss, and a classic BLT are some of my go-to options. Then I look at the menu of some of my regular cafe stops and at their least expensive, these sandwiches ring up at $6 each. That same sandwich costs less than $1 to make at home. Grabbing a simple lunch on-the-go for the sake of convenience and time certainly comes at a cost!</p> <h2>8. Egg Dishes</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/egg%20toast.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Eggs are a staple in my fridge and for $2.50 a dozen at the grocery store, they're one of the most nutritious bargains, too, at about $0.20 per egg. At my diner, an egg with a few potatoes and a couple pieces of toast will cost you $5. You don't even need your calculator to realize eggs are best consumed at home.</p> <h2>9. Baked Goods</h2> <p><img width="605" height="339" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/muffin%20dish.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>I used to tell myself I was no good at baking. Turns out I just needed to realize that baking and cooking require a different focus. While in cooking you can fudge measurements of ingredients, in baking you can't. Precision counts. Once I realized that, I started baking regularly. No need to spend $2 to $3 per muffin at my local bakery anymore. I can quickly whip up a batch of 12 for that price. I just put them in a ziploc bag and pop them in the freezer to warm up throughout the week.</p> <h2>10. Pizza</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/pizza%20dish.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>For a long time I believed pizza was worth buying because pizzerias deliver that chewy crust I crave. Then a friend told me that a $10 pizza stone would transform my homemade pizzas into works of art. Now I whip up homemade pizzas, with all the toppings I love, for a dime a slice. Even my local $2 slice joint can't compete with the cost-savings of my pizza stone.</p> <p><em>What's over-priced at your local eatery? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts">40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tricks-for-enjoying-fine-dining-on-a-budget">7 Tricks for Enjoying Fine Dining on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more">12 New Ways Restaurants Trick You to Spend More</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink dining out expensive food restaurants Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:00:05 +0000 Christa Avampato 1197727 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 New Ways Restaurants Trick You to Spend More http://www.wisebread.com/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/good-resturant-service-135702380-small.jpg" alt="good restaurant service" title="good restaurant service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, my favorite spot was a little place called The Blue Danube, familiarly known as &quot;The Dube.&quot; In addition to the usual inexpensive bar fare, the menu there offered the <a href="http://imgur.com/fDIrmSR">Dube Dinner Deluxe</a> which paired a bottle of Dom Perignon with a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches (made with Roquefort cheese) at a cost of $185.</p> <p>Though I always regarded the Dube Dinner Deluxe as more of a joke than anything else, I've since come to realize that including it on the menu was a savvy marketing strategy on the part of the bar's owners.</p> <p>Due to a cognitive bias known as <a href="http://moneyning.com/money-beliefs/how-anchoring-in-behavioral-economics-explains-your-irrational-money-choices/">anchoring</a>, diners are more likely to buy mid-priced items when the menu highlights a very expensive meal. Just the existence of a high-priced item is enough to make the other prices on the menu seem reasonable in comparison. &quot;Menu engineers&quot; (and yes, that's a real profession) actually describe these very high priced items as &quot;<a href="http://youtu.be/aZ_G2gQr8Uw">decoys</a>,&quot; since they're only there to soften the sticker shock of other offerings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-overpriced-restaurant-items-that-waste-your-money?ref=seealso">13 Overpriced Restaurant Items</a>)</p> <p>As it turns out, restaurants have a pretty good handle on behavioral psychology &mdash; which is why you often end up leaving with a fuller belly and a lighter wallet than you intended. Here are 12 of the sneakiest tricks that restaurants use to get you spend more.</p> <h2>Menu Presentation</h2> <p>A well-designed menu is the single greatest asset for a restaurant's bottom line, as it can help to steer customers to the items the restaurant most wants to sell. That's why you'll find nearly all restaurants have many or all of the following features on their menus.</p> <h3>1. Visual Highlights</h3> <p>If you have ever wondered why some menu items are placed in a text box or otherwise bolded, it's because the restaurant wants to draw your attention to the item. Often, the boxed-off menu item is something that is a major profit-maker for the restaurant &mdash; like chicken wings, for example. Wings cost the restaurant pennies, so the more they sell, the more they profit.</p> <p>In addition, menu designers recognize that most people's eyes are drawn to the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/21/menus-cunning-marketing-ploys?guni=Article:in%20body%20link">top right-hand corner</a>, so that is where the big money-maker dishes are often placed. You may have noticed this if you've ever searched in vain for a simple burger on a menu. Burgers and sandwiches and the like don't tend be super profitable in some restaurants, so they are often confined to &quot;menu Siberia,&quot; where you'll have to read through the pricier items before finding them.</p> <p>Finally, photographs of food tend to be powerful motivators, which is why restaurants will place photographs of only some of their menu items. The ones appearing in photographs are the most profitable dishes.</p> <p>Even in high-end restaurants, where photos on the menu are considered a little déclassé, you will often find line drawings or other visual representations of the big money makers.</p> <h3>2. Offering Two Portion Sizes</h3> <p>I often order salads when I dine out, and I have noticed that salads are usually offered in two sizes. This practice is called &quot;bracketing,&quot; and it's a no-win for the customer. Most customers will order the smaller/cheaper portion, thinking that the lower price is a better deal. But the menu does not specify how much smaller the cheaper portion will be, and in general the restaurant is actually hoping you'll buy the smaller size. If you do splurge on the larger salad, often the size difference will be made up in inexpensive lettuce.</p> <h3>3. Feeling Like Family</h3> <p>Diners tend to like seeing the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/23/dining/23menus.html?pagewanted=all">names of mothers, grandmothers, uncles, and other relatives</a> on their menus. That's why you'll see something listed as &quot;Bubbie's Chicken Soup&quot; or &quot;Uncle Doug's Famous Burgers&quot; rather than simply chicken noodle soup or &frac14; pound burgers.</p> <h3>4. Brand Name Recognition</h3> <p>Going along with that, menu designers have discovered that using <a href="http://www.foodpsychology.cornell.edu/pdf/pre-prints/descriptivemenulabels-2001.pdf">brand names helps boost sales</a>. For instance, T.G.I. Friday's offers Jack Daniel's sauce, and many restaurants make sure to specify that their juice is from Minute Maid. The name recognition is enough to help sell the food.</p> <h3>5. Descriptive Language</h3> <p>A study by Cornell University revealed that foods described in a more flowery or beautiful way were more appealing and popular with diners than the same items presented more plainly. For instance, the study would either label a dessert as &quot;New York Style Cheesecake with Godiva Chocolate Sauce&quot; or simply as &quot;Cheesecake.&quot; The results showed that diners chose the more descriptive menu items <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/summaries/sales_labels">27% more often</a> than the more plainly labeled items.</p> <p>Restaurants will often use this effect to highlight a profitable dish &mdash; while using much plainer description on a less profitable menu item placed nearby.</p> <h3>6. Price Shenanigans</h3> <p>One of the things you won't find in almost any menu, from a formal foodie haven down to Mom's Diner, is a dollar sign. Omitting the symbol from the price seems to be enough to spur diners to spend significantly more, according to another Cornell study.</p> <p>In addition, you'll notice something funny about the numbers on menus. You will rarely see any prices ending in a 9. For instance, a dessert will be listed as $4.95 <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/party-like-its-1999-the-psychology-of-pricing">rather than $4.99</a>. Apparently, numbers ending in 5 seem &quot;friendlier,&quot; while numbers ending with 9 connote value, but not necessarily quality.</p> <p>Many restaurants will leave off the cents entirely, listing their dishes as a clean and simple number. All of these gambits make prices abstract, which makes spending feel less threatening and painful.</p> <h3>7. Price Placement</h3> <p>Many menus will avoid listing prices in a column, since that will make it much simpler to compare prices between meals. Instead, many restaurants will bury each item's price beneath the description.</p> <p>Even if prices are listed across from the dishes, restaurants generally do not print leader dots between the dish name and the price. It's harder to scan across to the price without those dots, meaning you're more likely to focus on the dish.</p> <h2>Service</h2> <p>The menu is not the only way restaurants try to manipulate your spending. Your friendly server is also in on it.</p> <h3>8. Introducing Themselves by Name</h3> <p>When your server introduces himself as Todd and claims he'll be &quot;taking care of you this evening,&quot; he's not just being friendly. Studies have shown that <a href="http://drjaydill.com/PSY500/Garrity-Degelman_1990.pdf">restaurant tipping is higher when servers introduce themselves</a> because the interaction feels more personal.</p> <h3>9. Upselling</h3> <p>Servers are trained to ask you if you'd like to add to your meal during every step of the ordering process. For instance, when you order a cocktail, your server might offer you a choice of brands of liquor &mdash; letting you know that the restaurant carries both Bombay and Beefeaters gin, for instance. What the server does not tell you is that there is also a perfectly good and inexpensive gin that the bartender would have used had you not specified either Bombay or Beefeaters.</p> <h3>10. Listing Specials Verbally</h3> <p>In addition to upselling, servers are also trained to rattle off the day's specials &mdash; from the appetizers to the soups to the entrees to the desserts &mdash; off the top of their heads. This practice provides you with a mouth watering description of the foods that the restaurant is hoping to sell, but it does not give you the price point for each special. Many diners are too embarrassed to ask about the prices of specials, meaning they are surprised when the bill comes.</p> <h3>11. Beverage Timing</h3> <p>You've probably noticed that good servers get your beverage from the bar very quickly after you place your order. That's partially because if the timing is right, you'll run out of your drink either before your entrée arrives or in the middle of your meal &mdash; which will often mean you ask for a refill. If you're drinking a bottle of wine, you might find that your server is Johnny-on-the-spot with refills, since you might be persuaded to purchase another bottle if the first one is empty before your plate is.</p> <h3>12. The Midas Touch</h3> <p>Waitresses in particular are known for being very friendly and even lightly touching diners on the shoulder or hand. That's partially because studies have shown that both men and women tend to tip significantly more when their waitresses touch them in a friendly way. Researchers have dubbed this the <a href="http://psp.sagepub.com/content/10/4/512.abstract">Midas Touch</a>.</p> <p>This Midas Touch <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/work-matters/201005/women-have-the-midas-touch-not-men">does not extend to male servers</a>, however. Diners are more likely to see that kind of touch as creepy rather than friendly or nurturing when it comes from a waiter rather than a waitress.</p> <h2>Limiting Your Restaurant Spending</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the restaurants hold most of the cards when you decide to treat yourself to a meal out. Since you are there to enjoy yourself, it can be very difficult to attempt to counteract the psychological tricks since doing so will likely negatively affect your enjoyment.</p> <p>The best way to deal with these issues is to plan ahead. Bring cash so you cannot spend more than you brought. Check out the menu online and decide what you will order before you arrive. Make sure you ask questions of your server if you're not sure of prices or options. And plan to savor your food and drink, since it will help you be more satisfied and lessen the possibility of over-ordering and overeating.</p> <p><em>Have you noticed any other tricks of the restaurant trade? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts">40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items">Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Restaurant Menu Items?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tricks-for-enjoying-fine-dining-on-a-budget">7 Tricks for Enjoying Fine Dining on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping dining out psychology restaurants spending tricks Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1189022 at http://www.wisebread.com 40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/senior-couple-restaurant-80408262-small.jpg" alt="senior couple restaurant" title="senior couple restaurant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As we age, there are many benefits to look forward to, including retirement, time for travel and hobbies, wisdom, and the joy of being a grandparent. Sometimes, however, retirement means a decrease in income and spending. Many businesses recognize this fact and offer discounts to senior citizens. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-list-of-senior-discounts?ref=seealso">Big List of Senior Discounts</a>)</p> <p>Below is a list of 40 restaurants that may offer customers (some starting at age 55) a discount for their business.</p> <h2>Fast Food</h2> <p>Many fast food restaurants will offer a discount, which ranges from 5%-15% as well as a reduced price coffee or soft drink. Discounts may vary from location to location, be sure to ask before you order.</p> <h3>Arby's</h3> <p>10% discount for those over 55.</p> <h3>Burger King</h3> <p>10% discount for those 60 and older.</p> <h3>Captain D's</h3> <p>Discount on select days (usually Sundays and Wednesdays) for seniors 62 and older.</p> <h3>Carl's Jr.</h3> <p>10% discount on meal or drink.</p> <h3>Chick-fil-A</h3> <p>Free small drink or coffee plus a 10% discount for those 55 and older.</p> <h3>Del Taco</h3> <p>10% discount or a free drink for customers 55 and over.</p> <h3>Hardees</h3> <p>Small drinks are 33 cents with the purchase of a meal for those 65 and older.</p> <h3>Jack in the Box</h3> <p>Seniors 55 and older can save 20%.</p> <h3>Kentucky Fried Chicken</h3> <p>Free small drink with the purchase of a meal for those 55 and older.</p> <h3>Long John Silvers</h3> <p>Discounts vary by location for those 55 and older.</p> <h3>McDonald's</h3> <p>Discounted coffee and soft drink for customers over 55.</p> <h3>Popeye's</h3> <p>10% discount or a free drink for customers 55 and older.</p> <h3>Sonic</h3> <p>10% discount or a free drink for seniors 55 and over.</p> <h3>Subway</h3> <p>10% discount.</p> <h3>Taco Bell</h3> <p>A free drink for seniors or 5% off to seniors 65 and older.</p> <h3>Wendy's</h3> <p>10% discount on your purchase if you are over 55.</p> <h3>Whataburger</h3> <p>Offers a free drink or a 10% discount.</p> <h3>White Castle</h3> <p>10% discounts for customers 62 and over.</p> <h2>Casual Dining</h2> <p>Whether you are sitting down for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, these restaurants offer you discounts on your meal. Some offer a senior menu (which may have smaller portions as well as a lower price), but be sure to check on the value, if you are a big eater or want to take leftovers home, the regular menu may be a better value for your dollar.</p> <h3>Applebee's</h3> <p>10%-15% off on your meal if you are 55 or older.</p> <h3>Bob Evans</h3> <p>Senior Menu for those 55 and older.</p> <h3>Boston Market</h3> <p>10% discount for seniors 65 and older.</p> <h3>Chili's Grill and Bar</h3> <p>10% discount for seniors 55 and older.</p> <h3>CiCi's Pizza</h3> <p>Seniors 60 and over receive a 10% discount.</p> <h3>Culver's</h3> <p>Customers 60 and older receive a 10% discount.</p> <h3>Denny's</h3> <p>Senior Menu for 55 and older, AARP members receive larger discounts.</p> <h3>Golden Corral</h3> <p>10% off to customers over 60.</p> <h3>Hometown Buffet/Ryan's/Country Buffet and Others</h3> <p>Sign up for a discount card and receive deals and coupons all year long.</p> <h3>IHOP</h3> <p>Senior Menu for those 55 and older.</p> <h3>O'Charley's Restaurant</h3> <p>10% off for customers 60 and over.</p> <h3>Papa John's</h3> <p>Save 25% if you are over 55 or an AARP member when you order online using the promo code &quot;AARP25&quot;.</p> <h3>Steak and Shake</h3> <p>Customers 55 and over can receive a 10% discount on Mondays and Tuesdays but locations vary, call ahead.</p> <h3>Waffle House</h3> <p>10% off your meal on Mondays for customers 60 and older.</p> <h2>Desserts and Treats</h2> <p>When you need a sweet treat or a great dessert, you can continue to score discounts at these great restaurants.</p> <h3>Ben &amp; Jerry's</h3> <p>10% discount for seniors 60 and over.</p> <h3>Dairy Queen</h3> <p>10% discount or free drink for those 55 and older.</p> <h3>Dunkin Donuts</h3> <p>Free donut with the purchase of a coffee.</p> <h3>Friendly's</h3> <p>Discounts are available for those 60 and older, inquire at each location for specifics.</p> <h3>Krispy Kreme</h3> <p>10% off for those customers 55 and older.</p> <h3>Mrs. Fields</h3> <p>10% discount for customers 60 and older.</p> <h3>TCBY</h3> <p>10% discount for customers 55 and older,</p> <h2>Additional Discounts and Tips</h2> <p>Ask at every restaurant you visit. Even those not on this and restaurants local to you may offer discounts. Also, if you happen to be an AARP member, you can <a href="http://discounts.aarp.org/dining/index/uSource/HCTN">save even more</a> by showing your membership card. They also offer discounts for buying gift cards to restaurants through a partnership with <a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2822544-5674461">Restaurant.com</a>. If you are a member of AARP, it might be worth checking out those deals before dining out.</p> <p>Many of these discounts could vary by location, it is best to give them a call before heading out and expecting a discount. Be sure to bring your identification to show your age, in case the restaurant requests to see proof before offering a discount.</p> <p>For even more discounts available to seniors, check out <a href="http://www.seniordiscounts.com/">SeniorDiscounts.com</a> or <a href="http://www.sciddy.com/">Sciddy.com</a>.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite senior discounts? Please share in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/40-restaurants-that-offer-senior-discounts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-new-ways-restaurants-trick-you-to-spend-more">12 New Ways Restaurants Trick You to Spend More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items">Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Restaurant Menu Items?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-never-pay-full-price-for">25 Things to Never Pay Full Price For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tricks-for-enjoying-fine-dining-on-a-budget">7 Tricks for Enjoying Fine Dining on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping dining out discounts restaurants senior discounts Thu, 03 Jul 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1153214 at http://www.wisebread.com Do You Agree With the New Standards of Restaurant Tipping? http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-agree-with-the-new-standards-of-restaurant-tipping <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-you-agree-with-the-new-standards-of-restaurant-tipping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/restaurant-200356041-001.jpg" alt="restaurant tip" title="restaurant tip" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What's considered an &quot;acceptable&quot; tip in the restaurant industry is <a href="http://nypost.com/2012/09/19/tipping-the-scales/">trending north</a> as a number of expensive restaurants now frequently make a tip suggestion of 20% or higher.</p> <p>While tipping is never required, the expectations placed on consumers are getting a lot more specific, with <a href="http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/tipping/">20% widely considered a baseline tip</a> for good service, and 25% and up the norm for superlative service.</p> <p>In many ways, the restaurant patron has become the one who is being graded on performance.</p> <p>Let's look at this trend from a few perspectives.</p> <h2>A Healthy Tip Keeps the Cost of Your Meal Down</h2> <p>When you go out to eat, you're not just paying for food, but you're also paying for service.</p> <p>This dictates that a tip, though not required, should be anticipated as part of the cost of your evening out. The restaurant's owners are then free to aggressively control costs on the menu &mdash; and offer lower prices. Factor in consumers' increasing expectations for quality of service and the effects of inflation, and <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_23778895/what-is-protocol-tipping-20-percent-isnt-too">20% does not seem that excessive</a>.</p> <p>If you believe that service is part of the cost of a meal out, then higher tip costs shouldn't bother you. On the other hand, if you view a tip as a reward or a courtesy, then the &quot;cost of the meal&quot; argument suddenly loses steam.</p> <h2>If the Price Dictates the Tip, Then It's Not a Tip</h2> <p><a href="http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2011/10/17/should-25-percent-be-our-new-tipping-standard/">The other side of the coin</a> is that simply ascribing tip to the cost of a meal is, by definition, not &quot;tipping.&quot; It's taking something that was intended to be a bonus or an act of graciousness and courtesy on the part of the patron and turning it into part of the cost.</p> <p>People who feel this way might likely feel that a <a href="http://www.itipping.com/tip-guide-restaurant.htm">recommended tip</a> of 15% is acceptable for average to &quot;good&quot; service and anything more should be at the discretion of the diner.</p> <h2>Reward or Part of the Meal's Cost?</h2> <p>Is the tip in fact part of the cost of your meal, or is it a voluntary offering to thank your server?</p> <p>The answer isn't exactly clear cut, but I think it involves a little bit of both. Most servers who receive tips at their job are paid at a fairly low hourly rate &mdash; the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is just $2.13 per hour! That means their tips have become more than just &quot;Hey, you did a good job. Go buy yourself a soda.&quot; Tips are wages.</p> <p>It's a part of how they make their living, so a reasonable amount is fine to be &quot;suggested&quot; or expected of the patron.</p> <p>On the other hand, suggesting higher tips or expecting them from consumers unfairly puts diners in the position of having to feel pressured or out-of-line while they're trying to enjoy a meal.</p> <h2>Honor System</h2> <p>From an ethics and business standpoint, a higher-than-normal tip should be up to the discretion of the consumer.</p> <p>In an ideal world, this would work on the honor system, where patrons tip a reasonable amount and give more if they received better service. Suggesting a certain tip before service is even provided does take away some of the incentive for both parties: The server to do a good job and the customer to give out of gratefulness.</p> <p><em>How do you feel about the tipping standards? What do you think is a reasonable tip for service at a restaurant?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-agree-with-the-new-standards-of-restaurant-tipping">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees">“Avoid These Fast Food Items,” Say Fast Food Employees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-tipping-wrong-this-is-what-you-should-be-leaving">Are You Tipping Wrong? This Is What You Should Be Leaving</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ill-take-a-slice-of-lemon-with-fecal-bacteria-please">I&#039;ll take a slice of lemon with fecal bacteria please.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-restaurant-values-you-should-avoid">8 Terrible Restaurant Values You Should Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink customer service gratuities restaurants tipping Wed, 07 May 2014 23:24:19 +0000 Mikey Rox 1138500 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Overpriced Restaurant Items That Waste Your Money http://www.wisebread.com/13-overpriced-restaurant-items-that-waste-your-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-overpriced-restaurant-items-that-waste-your-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-80408075.jpg" alt="restaurant" title="restaurant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My family does a pretty decent job of saving money, but we have one big weakness: dining out. We like to visit restaurants and leave the cooking and dishes to someone else. Of course, we know that we could save money by eating at home, so we follow certain rules to make sure we're getting the best value from our restaurant visit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-dining-out?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards for Dining Out</a>)</p> <p>The key is to know what's worth ordering and what's worth avoiding due to a high markup. Here are 13 items we try to avoid when we eat out.</p> <h2>1. Alcoholic Drinks</h2> <p>Unlike other drinks, you'll rarely get unlimited free refills of beer or wine. Alcoholic beverages have a big markup in part due to taxes, but also because <a href="http://deadspin.com/why-the-hell-does-your-drink-cost-so-much-1454231900">the restaurants make them a high-margin item</a>. If you feel the need to splurge on wine, get it by the bottle instead of the glass. It's also easy these days to use your smartphone at the restaurant to check a price of a bottle of wine to see if you'd be overpaying. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cheap-tasty-wines-to-get-you-through-tax-season?ref=seealso">Tasty Wines to Get You Through Tax Season</a>)</p> <h2>2. Appetizers</h2> <p>It's tempting to order an app or two right when you arrive, especially if you're really hungry. But take a look at the appetizer menu. Nachos? Fried mozzarella sticks? Onion rings? These are usually things that are inexpensive for a restaurant to make, and you may even be able to make reasonable facsimiles at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-restaurant-dishes-you-can-make-at-home?ref=seealso">Restaurant Dishes You Can Make at Home</a>)</p> <h2>3. Dessert</h2> <p>They are usually overpriced, you're probably already full, and you really shouldn't be eating that stuff anyway.</p> <h2>4. Anything With Eggplant</h2> <p>I recently discovered the joys of eggplant at home. A <a href="http://www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/multisport-zone/fuel-station/articles/eggplant-economical-meal-for-athletes-052311.aspx">single eggplant is inexpensive, is versatile</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-tasty-frugal-eggplant-recipes">can last a few meals</a>. No need to shell out $10 or more for a dish. Want to make a good eggplant parm? Slice an eggplant, coat the slices in bread crumbs, and sear each side. Put them in a pan and coat with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and tomato sauce, then cook for about 30 minutes. Another idea: chop up some eggplant and put the chunks in a crock pot with cherry tomatoes and some garlic and other seasonings. An awesome, hearty vegetable dish. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-tasty-frugal-eggplant-recipes?ref=seealso">Tasty and Frugal Eggplant Dishes</a>)</p> <h2>5. Basic Pasta Dishes</h2> <p>Fettuccini alfredo? Spaghetti with meatballs? These are some of the simplest dishes around, and you're rarely going to be blown away by what restaurants serve.</p> <h2>6. Meatloaf</h2> <p>C'mon&hellip; you can make a good meatloaf at home. Just take some ground beef, onion, bread crumbs, diced tomatoes, and an egg, and throw it in a bowl. Mold it, cook it at 375 degrees for an hour, and enjoy. Restaurants will try to tempt you by calling it &quot;homemade,&quot; but you know better.</p> <h2>7. Out-of-Season (and Out-of-Market) Seafood</h2> <p>If you do some homework, you should be able to learn <a href="http://www.mccormickandschmicks.com/afreshapproach/whats-in-season.aspx">what seafood is fresh and local</a>. I'm a Marylander, so I know not to eat blue crab until it's at least May, and I'm not ordering it during a trip to Des Moines. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/affordable-sustainable-seafood-choices-for-your-table?ref=seealso">Affordable, Sustainable Seafood</a>)</p> <h2>8. Potatoes</h2> <p>OK, they are often just a side dish and not the main course. But if you're ordering a meal because you think you'll be blown away by the spuds, think again. A big bag of Russet potatoes is $4 at the store. So why spend $8 for a single baked potato at a restaurant?</p> <h2>9. Soup (Unless It's in Place of a Bigger Meal)</h2> <p>When I was in elementary school, the school lunch ladies always served vegetable soup, and we all knew it was made from the leftovers from the day before. It's not hard or expensive to throw some ingredients in with some broth. You'll rarely get max value when you order a bowl of soup, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2lfZg-apSA">no matter what Seinfeld says. </a></p> <h2>10. Salad</h2> <p>There are some salads that could be worth the extra money if they are filled with hearty and unique ingredients. But just keep in mind how much you typically pay for lettuce at the grocery store. (It's probably a buck a head.) Stay away from the &quot;wedge&quot; salad, which is basically just a chunk of iceberg lettuce with some dressing on it.</p> <h2>11. Roasted Chicken</h2> <p>Roasting a whole chicken at home is super easy. Coat it in butter; pour some olive oil on it; and sprinkle on kosher salt, rosemary, thyme, and any other herbs you like. Cook for an hour at 400 degrees. I also like to put some corn in the roasting pan and it comes out delicious.</p> <p>A whole chicken can serve an entire family, and you may even have leftovers. It's rare that a restaurant that can do anything transformative to a chicken. You'll save money by roasting at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-a-weeks-worth-of-dinners-out-of-one-chicken?ref=seealso">Get a Week of Dinners From One Chicken</a>)</p> <h2>12. Steak</h2> <p>It's pure agony for me to say this, because I love a good filet. But the bottom line is that beef is overpriced and often unsatisfactory at many restaurants. You should be able to grill yourself an awesome steak at home as long as you have a good cut of meat, like a tenderloin. Sprinkle some kosher salt and olive oil on your filet. Get your grill super-hot (500 degrees is good), shut the lid, and let the grill do its work. The best part about cooking steak at home is that you don't have to worry about whether the restaurant understands the difference between medium and well-done.</p> <h2>13. Kids' Meals</h2> <p>I've lost count of the number of times we've ordered macaroni and cheese off the children's menu for my sons, only to find that it's simply Kraft out of the box. (About $1.25 at most grocery stores.) The good news is that many restaurants will let kids eat free on certain nights of the week. And if you want to get good value from a child's meal, look for restaurants that offer basic dishes that come with a good selection of healthy sides. The Center for Science in the Public Interest <a href="http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/cspi-kids-meals-2013.pdf">has a list of restaurants that offer healthier meals</a> that may make them a better overall value.</p> <p><em>What do you skip at the restaurant? Let us know in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-overpriced-restaurant-items-that-waste-your-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-restaurant-values-you-should-avoid">8 Terrible Restaurant Values You Should Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-water-can-save-you-977-a-year">How Water Can Save You $977 a Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees">“Avoid These Fast Food Items,” Say Fast Food Employees</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink eating out restaurants Fri, 28 Feb 2014 11:24:20 +0000 Tim Lemke 1127920 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Restaurants and Retailers Offering Free Gift Cards for Givers http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-restaurants-and-retailers-offering-free-gift-cards-for-givers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-restaurants-and-retailers-offering-free-gift-cards-for-givers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gift-card-106575669.jpg" alt="gift card" title="gift card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some awesome articles on restaurants and retailers offering free gift cards for givers, the best life hacks of 2013, and teaching children frugality.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.doughroller.net/promo-codes/gifting-giver-68-restaurants-retailers-offering-free-gift-cards-givers/">68 Restaurants and Retailers Offering Free Gift Cards for Givers</a> &mdash; Barnes and Noble, Fandango, and Jamba Juice are just a few restaurants and retailers offering gift cards to givers! [The Dough Roller]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Best-Life-Hacks-2013-32903606">The Best Life Hacks of 2013</a> &mdash; To cross out words on paper, use other letters instead of lines. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/teaching-children-frugality/?">Teaching Children Frugality</a> &mdash; In order to teach children frugality, talk through your spending decisions and show them how to shop around. [The Simple Dollar]</p> <p><a href="http://timemanagementninja.com/2013/12/5-ways-to-stop-wasting-time-surfing-the-web/">5 Ways to Stop Wasting Time Surfing the Web</a> &mdash; If you want to reduce your time on the web, set a timer and delegate when appropriate. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="http://www.forbes.com/pictures/fgmi45hffl/basic-will/?ss=personalfinance">10 Must-Have Estate Planning Documents</a> &mdash; It is important to have beneficiary forms and a living will when doing your estate planning. [Forbes]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2013/12/10-ways-to-fight-holiday-depression.html">10 Ways To Fight Holiday Depression</a> &mdash; Holidays got you down? Fight your depression by doing something silly or connecting with friends. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="http://bargainbabe.com/make-wreath-10/">How to make a wreath for under $10</a> &mdash; All you need to make your own wreath is a coat hanger, some fabric, scissors, and pliers! [Bargain Babe]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/10-hot-holiday-gift-ideas-for-tween-girls">10 Hot Holiday Gift Ideas for Tween Girls</a> &mdash; If you have a tween girl on your shopping list this year, consider getting her an iPod Shuffle. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/12/15/8-things-happy-successful-people-never-say/">8 Things Happy, Successful People Never Say</a> &mdash; Happy, successful people never say they don&#39;t have a choice or that they missed their chance. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="http://lifehacker.com/what-is-small-claims-court-and-when-should-i-use-it-1481147923">What is Small Claims Court and When Should I Use It?</a> &mdash; Small claims court may be necessary if your landlord failed to return your security deposit. [Lifehacker]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-restaurants-and-retailers-offering-free-gift-cards-for-givers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/swipe-envy">Swipe envy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marshalls-giving-away-250-giftcards-to-3-lucky-wise-bread-readers">Marshalls giving away $250 giftcards to 3 lucky Wise Bread readers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sit-in-on-a-class-at-mit-for-free">Sit in on a Class at MIT for Free!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-all-the-documentary-movies-you-can-handle-free-online-and-yes-its-legal">Watch All The Documentary Movies You Can Handle, Free Online - And Yes, It&#039;s Legal.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-things-to-try-before-you-die-updated">10 frugal things to try before you die (updated)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living best money tips free gift cards restaurants retailers Thu, 19 Dec 2013 11:00:44 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1101062 at http://www.wisebread.com “Avoid These Fast Food Items,” Say Fast Food Employees http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3203854339_17b42f9b4a_z.jpg" alt="fast food employee" title="fast food employee" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know fast food is not good for us. Most nutrition experts agree that it should be eaten &ldquo;rarely or never.&rdquo; But having said that, most of us will grab a meal from a fast food restaurant sometimes. I know I am guilty of grabbing &ldquo;junk food&rdquo; when I am in a rush or am too tired to cook something.</p> <p>So if you&rsquo;re someone who eats fast food, be it rarely or more often than you should, it doesn&rsquo;t hurt to know what to avoid. Here are the fast food items you should stay away from, and some general tips to keep you from getting serious junk food remorse. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-reasons-to-stop-drinking-soda">22 Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda</a>)</p> <p><em>Note: These tips come from people who have worked in the fast food business, <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/?sort=new">via reddit</a>. I cannot verify their accuracy 100%, but I have only posted those tips that were repeated by several different individuals.</em></p> <h2>1. &ldquo;Unusual&rdquo; Pizza Toppings</h2> <p>If you go for the normal pizza toppings, like pepperoni, sausage, ham, pineapple, and the usual veggies, you should be fine. But when you start ordering pizzas with more <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59qf55">exotic toppings</a>, you risk getting some older produce on your pie. The reason is simple &mdash; regular toppings are used up quickly and replaced often. If they go off, they have plenty left in stock to replace them. However, the quirky items, like meatballs, green olives, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes, are in short supply. They could be sitting out longer, and they may well be older than other toppings when they&rsquo;re cooked.</p> <h2>2. Wendy&rsquo;s Chili</h2> <p>This one has been covered before in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-secret-confessions-of-employees">an article I wrote on employee secrets</a>, but it still deserves a mention in this list. When you order <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59qfrc">Wendy&rsquo;s chili</a>, you might be getting old hamburgers that have been left around all day. They get boiled and mashed up, and chili mix is added.</p> <h2>3. Sweet Teas</h2> <p>It appears that fast food places like to put the sweet in sweet tea. Some places are <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59qcbw">adding around one pound of sugar</a> to a gallon of the stuff. However, it&rsquo;s worth noting that almost all of the soft drinks out there have a high sugar content, so you&rsquo;re better off sticking with water. And it&rsquo;s free.</p> <h2>4. Vegetarian and Vegan Items</h2> <p>In some of the bigger, busier fast food chains, ordering vegetarian and vegan items should come with a warning &mdash; &ldquo;<a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59qoxd">this product may contain traces of meat</a>.&rdquo; The reason is laziness and poor hygiene standards. When it&rsquo;s rush hour, or when it&rsquo;s just way easier to do so, cooks will sometimes use the same cooking utensils for the vegetarian and vegan options as they do for meat products.</p> <h2>5. Anything Ending in &quot;Nugget&quot;</h2> <p><a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59r5os">Chicken nuggets</a> are clearly the biggest culprit here, although no one is ruling out other kinds of meat. Basically, chicken nuggets are made from mechanically separated meat (MSM), which is created through a process that extracts every last piece of flesh, meat, and sinew from the bones of the animal. This is then ground into a gruesome paste that is then dyed, flavored, shaped, and put in a box for you to eat. You can read more <a href="http://www.snopes.com/food/prepare/msm.asp">facts about this here</a>, as well as some of the statements about MSM that are not true.&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. &ldquo;Fresh&rdquo; Grilled Chicken</h2> <p>It may be a healthier option than fried chicken, but don&rsquo;t go thinking that you&rsquo;re getting something delicious and nutritious. It is common practice in many fast food restaurants, including McDonald&rsquo;s and Burger King, to <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59qoe6">squirt liquid margarine on the grill and the chicken</a>. And when it&rsquo;s sitting in the holding drawer, guess what&hellip;more liquid margarine goes on to keep it juicy.</p> <h2>7. Anything Close to Closing Time</h2> <p>You know how it is. You&rsquo;ve been out at a bar or club and feel hungry. Or you&rsquo;re working very late. But whatever the reason, sometimes you want to grab a bite before you go home, and the flickering light in the distance is like an oasis. It's a fast food joint, and it&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59rgxw">just about to close</a>. They&rsquo;ll hook you up with a fresh burger or a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/29-alternative-pizza-sauce-ideas">great pizza</a>, right? Well, think again. Chances are the employees are tired and want to go home, and they don&rsquo;t really care about breaking out all the ingredients again to feed you. So they might give you whatever&rsquo;s left, possibly telling you they&rsquo;re &ldquo;out&rdquo; of certain items in order to guide you to the ones they&rsquo;ve got sitting under the heat lamps. If you must eat something that late, go to a grocery store and put together a sandwich with fresh ingredients. It&rsquo;s quick, cheap, and a much better option.</p> <h2>8. Outback&rsquo;s Bloomin&rsquo; Onion</h2> <p>Employees at Outback Steakhouse do say that everything there is delicious and cooked to order, although their Outback Special sirloin is usually a cheaper cut of meat and has a high profit margin. However, it seems their signature appetizer, the Bloomin&rsquo; Onion, hides a dark secret. Here&rsquo;s what one former employee, redditor <a href="http://www.reddit.com/user/hurrayforzac">Hurrayforzac</a>, had to say about it:</p> <blockquote><p>Every night, we drain and filter the French fry oil, and put in a chunk of new shortening. The old French fry oil gets filtered in this weird box on wheels and drained into the appetizer deep-vat fryer (shrimp, and I think mushrooms).</p> <p>The oil form the appetizer fryer is filtered in the box and then dumped into the 2nd appetizer fryer (for chicken tenders, etc.). The old oil form the 2nd appetizer fryer (the third fryer in the line) gets filtered and dumped into the fourth and final fryer, which is used exclusively for Bloomin' Onions.</p> <p>So basically the oil used to make the trademark appetizer at Outback is cooked in 4 day old, 4 times filtered shortening. the same oil used to make French fries, then coconut shrimp, then chicken tenders, all finally getting infused into the thick eggy batter that encases that husk of a vegetable. Don't eat those.</p> </blockquote> <h2>9. KFC&rsquo;s Shredded Chicken Snackers</h2> <p>When the fried or grilled chicken has been sat for too long in the heating bays, it cannot be sold to customers, but it can be repurposed. By taking the dry chicken and adding a sauce to it (honey BBQ or buffalo) it can be given a new life as a <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59tump">KFC Snacker</a>. Now, personally I don&rsquo;t mind the idea of finding ways to save food, especially with so many people going hungry. But if the idea of old, dry chicken being sold as &ldquo;fresh&rdquo; makes you angry, you should probably steer clear of this one.</p> <h2>10. Ice From the Soda Fountains</h2> <p>As I&rsquo;ve written in the past, you should <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-water-can-save-you-977-a-year">probably avoid soda if you want to save money</a> and your health. But for those who do indulge, or who like a cup of ice water, think twice about <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/c59r8q8">getting it from the soda fountain</a>. It appears that many employees know just how difficult it is to clean inside of the ice machines. And because &ldquo;what the eye doesn&rsquo;t see, the chef gets away with&rdquo; is par for the course in many fast food restaurants, the inside of these machines are last on the priority list when it comes to cleaning.</p> <p><em>Those are the top 10 I found, but I&rsquo;d like to throw this one out to current (or former) fast food employees. Is there something you&rsquo;d add to the list?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eat-256-big-macs-to-win-a-5-gift-card-0">Eat 256 Big Macs to Win a $5 Gift Card</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-there-be-a-fat-tax-on-junk-food">Should There Be a &quot;Fat Tax&quot; on Junk Food?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ugggh-hic-i-justss-gotta-eat-somehicthing-my-top-10-homemade-drunk-snacks">Ugggh, (hic) I justss gotta eat some(hic)thing; my top 10 homemade drunk snacks.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-secrets-restaurants-dont-want-you-to-know">6 Secrets Restaurants Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-most-unhealthiest-restaurants">10 Unhealthiest Restaurants</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Food and Drink Fast Food junk food restaurants unhealthy dining Thu, 16 Aug 2012 09:48:43 +0000 Paul Michael 943018 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: How Do You Save Money When Dining Out? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-when-dining-out <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-when-dining-out" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4663784616_266facf09f_z-1.jpg" alt="How Do You Save Money When Dining Out?" title="How Do You Save Money When Dining Out?" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-when-dining-out#comment-531415"><em>Holly</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-when-dining-out#comment-531431"><em>David</em></a><em>, and </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-when-dining-out#comment-531463"><em>Merlene Ence</em></a><em> for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>If you are like most people, chances are you find yourself dining out with family or friends at least a couple times each month. While it's fun to head to a restaurant to catch up with loved ones, somtimes dining out can be a bit costly. Luckily, there are ways to save when you grab a bite to eat with family or friends!</p> <p><b>How do you save money when dining out?</b><span style="font-weight:normal">&nbsp;Do you share a meal with someone? Only go to Happy Hours? Drink water?</span></p> <p>Tell us how you save money when dining out and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; one for random comments, one for random Facebook &quot;Likes&quot;, and another one for random tweets.</p> <h3>Mandatory Entry:&nbsp;</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below&nbsp;</li> </ul> <h3>For extra entries (1 per action):</h3> <ul> <li>Go to our <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wise-Bread/26830741467?ref=ts">Facebook page</a>, &quot;Like&quot; us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or</li> <li><a href="http://www.twitter.com/">Tweet</a> your answer. You have to be a follower of our <a href="http://twitter.com/wisebread">@wisebread account</a>. Include both &quot;@wisebread&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.</li> </ul> <p><strong>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, April 16th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after April 16th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us how you save money when dining out and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-do-you-save-money-when-dining-out">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-should-kids-get-paid-for-doing-chores">Ask The Readers: Should Kids Get Paid For Doing Chores?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items">Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Restaurant Menu Items?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-how-did-you-spend-your-first-paycheck">Ask the Readers: How Did You Spend Your First Paycheck?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-if-you-could-have-one-wish-chance-to-win-20">Ask the Readers: If You Could Have One Wish (Chance to win $20!)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers dining out restaurants Tue, 10 Apr 2012 10:36:07 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 916318 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Shouldn't Eat at Chain Restaurants http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-eat-at-chain-restaurants <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-shouldnt-eat-at-chain-restaurants" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5636151058_ce49886863_z.jpg" alt="disapproving boy" title="disapproving boy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&rsquo;ll reveal my bias upfront &mdash; I can&rsquo;t stand chain restaurants. From their oversized, cheese-topped portions to the excessive use of adjectives in their menus, grabbing a bite at a big-box just doesn&rsquo;t hit the spot for me. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the amount of food that people are consuming outside of their own kitchens has been <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;ved=0CC0QFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ers.usda.gov%2Fpublications%2Feib19%2Feib19.pdf&amp;ei=QNtLT7-FHovaiQKfv8zaDQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNHbzNWpBbOdQbKGLb79SKWBD4rN6g">growing pretty steadily since the 1970s</a>, which may account for why chain restaurants seem to keep on multiplying. But despite their obvious popularity, I also believe that there are some sound reasons to skip them in favor of smaller local eateries. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-cheapskates-guide-to-eating-out">A Cheapskate's Guide to&nbsp;Eating Out</a>)</p> <h2>There's Too Much Food</h2> <p>One of the top reasons that many people give for favoring chain restaurants is the portion sizes. I get it. When you go to a restaurant, you want to actually <em>eat</em>. I definitely don&rsquo;t appreciate being presented with a pretentious morsel of an entree any more than the next girl. If that bite of food is really tasty, it&rsquo;s almost worse &mdash; as if I could be satisfied by taste alone, even when my stomach is empty! At the same time, many of the top chain restaurants boast dishes that top 1,000 calories each. I mean, let&rsquo;s be honest here &mdash; most people could do without those &ldquo;stacked&rdquo; and &ldquo;stuffed&rdquo; caloric monstrosities. And while many restaurants now offer lower-calorie menus, it&rsquo;s pretty hard to order those calorie-labeled little offerings when the guy at the next table is ordering a steak that could feed a family of four.</p> <p>The big portions are a large part of what chain restaurants have to offer, and the reason they can do it is precisely because of their size. The companies buy a lot of food, so they can pay less for it and charge less to the consumer. For these kinds of restaurants, portion size is a way to provide value.</p> <h2>It's Not a&nbsp;Unique Experience</h2> <p>Let&rsquo;s face it &mdash; when food it sourced en-masse, shipped across the country, and prepared according to the specifications set by the restaurant corporation, it might be tasty enough, but there isn&rsquo;t going to be anything special or unique about it &mdash; especially when you could probably drive a few more miles and eat nearly the same thing somewhere else. The problem with measuring value in this way is that most of us don&rsquo;t need more food on our plates at all. The fact that mass production makes it cheaper only contributes to the problem by making it increasingly affordable for people to patronize a local chain rather than whip something up at home.</p> <p>If you look at going to a restaurant as an experience, rather than a way to fill the hole, portion sizes become a little less important and the notion of value turns more toward the <em>experience</em>. Assuming that the chain restaurant is the better value assumes an equation that involves calories and money. To me, value is about the quality of the food. My philosophy is that if I&rsquo;m only going to go out a few times each year, I want to eat something different that I wouldn&rsquo;t&nbsp; &mdash; or couldn&rsquo;t &mdash; cook at home. I want to experience local ingredients chosen by someone who&rsquo;s passionate about cooking them. For me, going to a restaurant is a way to celebrate good food &mdash; and maybe even life. So while I can&rsquo;t afford the fanciest fare, I also don&rsquo;t need a baked potato the size of a football to make me feel like I&rsquo;m making a responsible choice with my money. And since I&rsquo;ve brought it up, let&rsquo;s get on to the topic of money, shall we?</p> <h2>It's Expensive</h2> <p>Despite how often the word &ldquo;value&rdquo; is thrown around in the restaurant industry, eating in a restaurant is way more expensive than eating at home. Even the dollar menu at fast-food chains can&rsquo;t beat cooking your own food when it comes to cost (although it comes close). A column that appeared in the New York Times in September breaks down the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/is-junk-food-really-cheaper.html?pagewanted=all">common misconception that fast food is budget conscious</a> and finds that the average order at McDonalds for a family of four costs nearly twice as much as serving roasted chicken, salad, and vegetables at home. In other words, even the top innovator of food served fast and cheap can&rsquo;t beat out a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-time-for-home-cooked-meals">home-cooked meal</a> when it comes to cost. Eating in a restaurant, any restaurant, just isn&rsquo;t cost effective, no matter how much food is piled on your plate.</p> <h2>It's Not Necessarily Social</h2> <p>I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where we all sat down to have dinner every day. I know that isn&rsquo;t always possible, and I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s always necessary. What I do know is that food and a lot of the fundamental aspects of being a social human being go together. In other words, food is (or should be) about more than just sucking grease off a paper wrapper on your way to your next appointment. Everyone needs to eat, so why not take it as an opportunity to sit down, slow down and enjoy life?</p> <h2>One Ingredient Short of the Real Thing</h2> <p>OK, OK &mdash; it's not like you can't be social at a chain restaurant, especially the sit-down kind. But I think small, local restaurants offer a sense of community that chains can't touch. I visit the small restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries within a few blocks of where I live, and I love the fact that the business owners are on the premises greeting visitors, talking to staff, and generally running the show. Actually, I like that at least as much as I like the food, and I love the fact that I'm <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-local-businesses">supporting a business</a> that's more than a just business, but is also part of the community.</p> <p>Chain restaurants are on to us. That's why they work so hard to capitalize on our desire for comfort and pitch their food as something that mom would make. Except the the food that's made by the people you love has an ingredient that chain restaurants just can't source &mdash; what's in the food is less important than who cooked it. Plus, that &quot;homemade&quot; apple pie at your local chain restaurant probably came straight from the freezer, and before that, the factory.</p> <p>Based on the number of chain restaurants that continue to pop up just about everywhere, I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;re short of fans. But I&rsquo;m not drawn to those giant neon signs. The fact that many people in Western countries get too much to eat isn&rsquo;t such a bad problem to have, but all that food might come at the cost of some other things we&rsquo;re pretty deficient in, and you won&rsquo;t necessarily find them on your plate.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-eat-at-chain-restaurants">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-fast-food-items-say-fast-food-employees">“Avoid These Fast Food Items,” Say Fast Food Employees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-terrible-restaurant-values-you-should-avoid">8 Terrible Restaurant Values You Should Avoid</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-great-meals-with-your-car-engine-the-heat-is-on">Cooking great meals with your car engine. The heat is on.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-cities-for-frugal-foodies">The 7 Best Cities for Frugal Foodies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-eating-the-10-most-over-priced-restaurant-menu-items">Are You Eating the 10 Most Over-Priced Restaurant Menu Items?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Fast Food restaurants shopping locally Tue, 28 Feb 2012 11:24:20 +0000 Tara Struyk 905036 at http://www.wisebread.com Paying for a Piece of the Pizza: Techniques for Splitting the Bill http://www.wisebread.com/paying-for-a-piece-of-the-pizza-techniques-for-splitting-the-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paying-for-a-piece-of-the-pizza-techniques-for-splitting-the-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/paying_the_bill.jpg" alt="Man paying the bill" title="Man paying the bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Eating out with friends is one of my favorite indulgences. Few things are better than good company combined with delicious food and drink. But these fun evenings often chug to a near standstill when it comes time to pay the bill. Suddenly everyone is reduced to muttering and throwing piles of bills on the table, hoping that someone else will figure out how much we actually need to pay.</p> <p>Yes, realistically, splitting a bill among several friends is not that hard. There are many more difficult things in life, like the LSATs, or training a cat to use the toilet. But that doesn't mean that divvying up the check can't get annoying or cause hurt feelings when one person doesn't pay his fair share.</p> <p>Thus, I present several ways to split the bill among friends. Most of these are pretty straightforward, although there might be a couple of surprises. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-at-restaurants-budgeting-tips-for-dining-out">How to Save Money at Restaurants</a>)</p> <h2>Separate Checks</h2> <p>If the restaurant you're at is willing to provide separate checks, seize the opportunity before you order. Then you don't have to bother with doing the math, being lazy and making that one friend who is good at math do it, or silently seethe about how some jerk in the group only put in for what he ordered and no tip, so you had to cover it because you are a good and righteous person.</p> <h2>Go Halvsies (or Thirdsies, or...)</h2> <p>It's certainly one of the easiest ways to split one check &mdash; everyone pays the same amount. Of course, this gets annoying when one person orders much more than everyone else. One solution to that? Head to fixed-price meals.</p> <h2>Cash and Card</h2> <p>One or more people pay cash, and then the rest gets put on someone's card. The cash can either go directly to the bill, or the person paying with a card can take the cash. It's like a fee-free friend ATM!</p> <h2>Get Change</h2> <p>If there's an excess of cash, ask your waiter or waitress if you can get change for a big bill, and divvy out what people are owed accordingly.</p> <h2>Get Paid Back Later</h2> <p>Sites like <a href="https://www.billmonk.com/">BillMonk</a> allow you to keep track of what friends and family owe you. If you pay for everything, keep the itemized receipt from the meal, and simply go into BillMonk to enter what people owe you. This is a good technique if you're trying to take advantage of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-earn-cashback-rewards-without-extra-spending">credit card rewards</a>.</p> <h2>Take Turns Paying</h2> <p>If you go out with the same people often, you can all take turns paying. A variation of this is to always pay for the meal when you're the one who invites people out (just make sure your friends toss out an invite every now and then as well).</p> <h2>Play Credit Card Roulette</h2> <p>Daniel Packer wrote about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-playing-credit-card-roulette">credit card roulette</a> back in February. Basically, everyone at the meal provides his or her credit card to the waitress. The waitress then picks one card at random, and that person pays for the entire meal. If you like taking your chances, this could be the technique for you. Sure, you might be stuck with the full bill, but you might also get your entire meal for free.</p> <p><em>How do you split the bill?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paying-for-a-piece-of-the-pizza-techniques-for-splitting-the-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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