10 Budget Busters on Everyday Restaurant Menus


Many people order seafood in restaurants because it's perceived as a higher value, healthier choice than other proteins. We think that seafood is better quality, more exclusive and therefore worth the expense. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes, seafood is just another menu budget buster.

For example, if you have a choice of a dish with $2 worth of chicken or $2 worth of shrimp, the restaurant will probably charge more for the shrimp dish. We'd not only expect that, we'd pay it.

Then, you have the issue of quality. Maryland crab cakes are delicious, but "Maryland-style" crab cakes mean those crustaceans hale from another, less exclusive locale though you'll pay a Chesapeake Bay price. Another example where you might not get what you're paying for is a seafood medley or fruits de mer (fruits of the sea) dish. Your shellfish -- shrimp, lobsters, mussels, oysters and clams -- are your high dollar items, but you'll probably also have other swimmers mixed in to give the dish quantity and help the restaurant manage raw food costs.

So, what do you do if you want to enjoy some good quality seafood? Ask where it's from. If you want shellfish, order the lobster, mussels or clams and leave the other fruits de mer out at sea.

The next budget buster isn't as special as it seems.