Five (5) ways restaurant menus are designed to make you spend more money

Restaurants in general try to make you spend more money than you normally would by just buying the ingredients yourself and cooking a similar meal at home.  If you spend $100 a week eating out then, by the end of the year, you have spent approximately $5,200 eating out.

However, is it also possible that the restaurant menu is designed in a particular way which further contributes to spending?

1.  Many menus contain special wording for the menu items.  For example, there might be a “Farmhouse chicken sandwich” on the menu.  The word “farmhouse” catches your attention, but was this chicken really slaughtered fresh from the farm?  How do you know that this chicken wasn’t slaughtered months ago, packaged, loaded with preservatives, and then stored in a freezer?  These exaggerated descriptions often evoke curiosity and may lead to spending more money on something that doesn’t quite live up to its name.

2.  Have you ever seen a menu that doesn’t have a dollar sign ($), pound sign (£), euro sign (€), or some other currency symbol next to the price?  Many purposely leave off the currency symbol so that you conveniently “forget” that you’re spending money.

3.  Have you ever seen the menu items that are surrounded by fancy borders and bold print?  These items are obviously designed to capture your attention.  Most of the time, these entrees also end up costing you a lot of money.  After all, restaurants want to capture your attention to get you to buy an expensive meal rather than something cheaper.

4.  How often have you seen a menu that has all of the dishes organized by price in ascending order like an Excel spreadsheet?  This is rarely the case – in fact, menu items are all over the place in terms of price.  If dishes were organized by price, it would make it easier to find cheaper options.  For example, two similar pasta dishes might differ by $3 or more in price … but because of the way everything is scattered on the page, these subtle price differences are harder to notice.  Once again, this is a tactic to get you to spend more money.

5.  This ties in with some of what was mentioned already.  Menu item positioning is key.  Certain menu items appear at the very top and bottom of each category and/or page.  As a result, these items are more noticeable and memorable when scanning through the list.  It is no wonder that these dishes are usually popular or profitable items for the restaurant.

If you know other ways that restaurant menus are designed to make you spend more money, then please share them in the comments below.