Secret #4: Menu Markups
Menu markups, like calorie labels, can be a good thing. One study suggests people consume 230 less calories when nutritional info is listed on menus. But watch out for “menu engineering” such as dish placement.
- The eyes are naturally drawn toward the upper right, near the center of the page, which is where pricey special boxes often appear on the menu. “They’re not going to put a burger there,” says Knowlton. “They’re going to hide it somewhere down on the bottom left.”
- Putting prices at the end of a description, in the same font and without a dollar sign, detracts from the cost.
- Don’t fall for fancy descriptions like, “fillet mignon encrusted with Madagascar pepper.” Words that hint at intricate flavors can be used to lure diners to pay bigger bucks.
- The second cheapest wine on the list invariably has the biggest markup. “Nobody wants to be the cheapest person to order the cheapest bottle of wine,” says Knowlton. You want to order the second cheapest. Restaurants know that and will mark that one up.”
Secret #5: Diet Destroyers
Restaurants are in the business of making food taste good, which often means adding fat and salt. Even the healthiest fare can be loaded with butter, bacon, cream or other caloric add-ons.
- Many restaurants, particularly chains, list nutritional information on their websites. Go online and investigate before you go out.
- Typically, restaurant portions are huge, often 2/3 of the recommended daily caloric intake. Practice portion control by splitting an order with a friend or take half your order home.
- Ask for healthy substitutions. Order baked or grilled meat or fish instead of fried; get dressings and sauces on the side; and swap fries for a side of veggies.