Dining out allows you to enjoy a meal without all the fuss and bother of shopping, food preparation, and cleanup. Avoiding the work associated with cooking allows you to relax and enjoy delicious foods and the company of loved ones. Expensive restaurants provide a welcome venue for celebrating special moments and life events. Meanwhile, it is also handy to have a favorite restaurant in mind for those times when you simply want to grab a tasty and nutritious bite to eat. While dining out is convenient, it is not the most inexpensive way to enjoy a meal. Check out the high markups on the following restaurant items.
Salty and fun to pop out of the pod, edamame is a staple at sushi bars and Japanese restaurants. These soybeans are high in protein and rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, and manganese. They are also an inexpensive form of fiber that can be found in your grocery store freezer. Trader Joe’s sells a 16-ounce bag of Lightly Salted Edamame for $1.99. Meanwhile, it is not uncommon for restaurants to charge $6 or more for that same edamame appetizer served with a sprinkling of sea salt and a shaker of soy sauce.
Eggs are perfect little packages of protein and nutrients. Two scrambled eggs provide 28% of your daily protein requirements along with a good dose of riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. You can make your own two-egg scramble at home for around 44 cents. Meanwhile, two eggs at Waffle House could run you $3.60. Epicurious has a recipe for fluffy Scrambled Eggs made with eggs, butter, salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of water.
Add some cheese, meat, and veggies to your eggs, and you will pay even more. According to Iowa State University Extension, building your own omelet with ingredients like shredded cheese, bell peppers, mushrooms, and olives can cost you only 50 cents per serving. However, the Ultimate Omelet at Denny’s costs around $9.79. Of course, the Denny’s omelet, containing sausage, bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, and veggies, comes with a side of hash browns and your choice of bread.
If you want fluffy pancakes to go along with your eggs, then expect to pay extra for the convenience of enjoying them at a restaurant. Pancakes cost only pennies when made at home from inexpensive grocery store mixes. Making pancakes from scratch with ingredients you already have in your pantry, such as eggs, flour, oil, baking powder, and sugar is also inexpensive. Furthermore, pancakes made from scratch are far more nutritious. Meanwhile, a short stack of buttermilk pancakes may cost you $5.99 or more at IHOP. That’s more than an entire box of pancake mix at Walmart.
9. Cheese on Your Hamburger
Kroger sells packages of 11 slices of Sargento sharp cheddar cheese for $3.50. That equates to around 32 cents per slice. Meanwhile, a slice of cheese on your restaurant hamburger may incur an extra charge of $1.50 or more. Of course, you may find it well worth the price to enjoy a savory cheeseburger without the hassle of grilling your own meat, slicing your own cheese, and assembling your own sandwich. Add in the effort required for grocery shopping, scraping the grill, and washing dishes, and that markup may be worth it to you.Related: Reasons to Avoid Restaurant Pepper Shakers
Avocados are not only delicious, but they are also packed with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Combined with garlic, lime juice, and vegetables such as tomatoes, onion, and cilantro, they make a tasty dip. CNBC calculates you can whip up your own guacamole at home from fresh ingredients for as little as 15 cents per ounce. However, Chipotle charges around $1.95 for a side of guacamole. Gimme Some Oven has a delicious recipe for The Best Guacamole. Furthermore, Ali at Gimme Some Oven lists several fun optional mix-ins such as fruit, nuts, cheese, and sour cream.
Brewing a cup of Peet’s Dark Roast Coffee in your Keurig coffee maker will cost you about 66 cents. However, when you stop into a Peet’s Coffee Bar, a medium coffee of the day will run about $2.30. Of course, once you are in the shop, you may be tempted to spring for an even more expensive coffee beverage, such as the $4.65 white chocolate mocha or the $4.40 Havana cappuccino. Make your own flavored creamers at home to get a more decadent cup of coffee without the extra cost.
6. Pizza Toppings
While a medium hand-tossed pizza costs around $10.99 at Pizza Hut, adding pepperoni may add an additional $2 to your price. Include sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, and red onion, and your price jumps by about $4 for the Supreme pizza. Given that you can buy a 6-ounce package of pepperoni for around $3, the $4 jump in price seems pretty steep. Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes shares an easy recipe for Homemade Pizza that you can whip up with a homemade crust and the toppings of your choice.
A 3-pound, family-size box of dried spaghetti noodles costs $1.87 at Walmart. Even accounting for the cost of the tomato sauce, that makes the $14.25 price for a plate of spaghetti at Maggiano’s Little Italy seem pretty steep. If you decide to cook up a batch of pasta at home, try Ree Drummond’s recipe for Spaghetti Sauce. This recipe includes ground beef, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and spices. Furthermore, nothing beats the taste of fresh, homemade pasta. Allrecipes has a recipe for Basic Pasta you can make in your own kitchen.
When it comes to a steaming, savory bowl of chicken noodle soup, nothing is better than mom’s recipe. The price of a bowl of homemade soup also beats restaurant prices, hands down. According to Forbes, one serving of chicken noodle soup costs a restaurant about 30 cents to make. Have you ever seen soup listed on a menu for 30 cents? A bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup will cost you $6.19 at Panera.
A five-pound bag of russet potatoes costs around $3 at the grocery store. If there are three potatoes per pound, the price of just one potato is around 20 cents. That makes for a hefty markup on the baked potatoes you order when eating out. A baked potato side could cost you $2.49 at Texas Roadhouse. That’s almost as much as the 5-pound bag. You may enjoy making your own Garlic Mashed Potatoes with this recipe from Allrecipes. Garlic, butter, milk or cream, salt, and pepper are all you need to make perfect mashed potatoes. You can garnish with sesame seeds and green onions if you desire.
Sodas are incredibly inexpensive for restaurants to provide. Meritage Technologies states that sodas should cost a restaurant a little more than one penny per ounce. That includes the price of the syrup and CO2 for carbonation. Ordering a soda at that restaurant could cost you around $3. Stick to water to keep both your body and your wallet healthier.
A glass of wine with dinner can cost you $8 per glass or more. Wine Enthusiast notes that restaurants may charge double what you would pay at the liquor store for a bottle of wine. Of course, the restaurant is factoring in costs such as state taxes and restaurant overhead costs. Interestingly, Wine Enthusiast asserts that the highest price markups are usually on the cheapest wines.Related: 9 of the Unhealthiest Foods at Your Neighborhood Barbecue