How to Avoid the Insane Markup on Restaurant Food

We all know that going out to eat is expensive. The insane markup and high price is for both the good food and the experience. Though it’s clear that restaurant markups can be sky high, most people don’t realize what the highest markups tend to be on. Here is a quick run-through of the dishes that are best made at home.

  • Drinks – Drinks are the big moneymaker for any restaurants that has a bar. A typical bar drink like a beer or a glass of cheap wine might only cost $2-$3 a serving at home, but at a bar, that same drink can run to as much as $9 depending on the location. Even if you aren’t the best bartender in the world, it’s often best to BYOB or just have a glass of the good stuff at home if you’re looking to cut your dining budget. According to a Fool article, the markup for alcohol can be (on average) between 200% and 600% of what it would cost straight from the liquor store.
  • Pizza – This one may be a shocker for some, but think about it. The average ingredients for a large pizza pie will run you about $4 to $6. The price for an average pizza is around $10 to $20, depending on the location.
  • Pasta – A box of Barilla and some Ragu will run you about $7, and can feed you at least 10 to 15 times. Why are you spending $11 or more for a plate of pasta at a restaurant, then? Simple – because it’s one of those dishes that are a profitable staple for many chains and because of the way they are marketed.
  • Soups – In many cases, the ingredients that are used in soups in restaurant menus are also used in other dishes, so there’s not much issue when it comes to getting a special, lower price on extra ingredients. Since water tends to be one of the main ingredients in soup, the price per serving is lower than any other food item you’ll find on the menu. Thus, the markup will be a lot larger. Even so, it’s perfectly acceptable to want a bowl of hot soup on a cold day – particularly if you’re not good at making soup.
  • Vegetarian Items – Generally speaking, vegetarian and vegan friendly offerings will carry a higher price tag and markup than meatier options. Veggies are cheap – and so are fruits. The markup is done specifically because of the fact that they are diet-friendly, and therefore a better option for people who are worried about their weight.

In general, the price of the ingredients you’ll find on restaurant menu items is approximately 20% to 30% of what the restaurant is charging. That means that the markup is going to be high no matter what you get. Even so, you might as well enjoy a good meal that gives you the most bang for your proverbial buck.