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The 10 Most Overpriced Foods You’ll Find on Restaurant Menus

You know cooking at home is cheaper, but eating out is all about the experience. Still, these crazy markups will change how you think about your next food order.

Fresh steamed edamame sprinkled with sea salt on a stone tabletop.Ostancov Vladislav/Shutterstock

Edamame

Markup: 1,250%

That salty, savory, leave-you-wanting-more edamame likely started out as a big bag of frozen beans that cost the restaurant just $1.95 a pound, according to Forbes. A bit of soy sauce and salt barely cost the restaurant a dime, meaning your $6, four-ounce serving costs about 12.5 times more than the dish’s actual price. Or you could skip paying for the overpriced food and learn how to get free food from all of your favorite restaurants.

Eat-These-9-Foods-Daily-to-Remedy-Dry-SkinLarisa Blinova/Shutterstock

Guacamole

Markup: 250%

Yes, you know guac is extra—but did you realize just how much more? Making guacamole from scratch costs about 20 cents an ounce. With a single four-ounce scoop of guacamole setting you back $2 at burrito joints, though, you’re getting served a 250 percent markup—and don’t even get us started on those $11 table-side guac bowls. Don’t miss these other 13 secrets that will stop you from wasting money.

Woman pouring honey onto tasty pancakesPixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Pancakes

Markup: 2,609%

Nothing says “brunch” quite like a big stack of pancakes, but you might want to save these for a lazy Sunday at home. Whether you make ‘em from scratch or from Bisquick, a serving of pancakes (which, as a reminder, are really just a combo of cheap-as-chips ingredients: flour, baking soda, eggs, and milk) is only about 23 cents. In a restaurant, you’ll pay closer to $6 per plate. You could add all the chocolate chips, whipped cream, and strawberries you want and still get a better deal in your jammies.

Flatbread pizza garnished with fresh arugula on wooden pizza board, top view. Dark stone backgroundVladislav Noseek/Shutterstock

Pizza toppings

Markup: 525%

Whether you’re a meat eater or a veggie nut, you’re facing heavy markups for your pizza toppings. Each one costs the restaurant about 32 to 48 cents, but those specialty slices add about $2 or $3 to your pie price, according to a PlateIQ analysis. Make sure you know about these foods you should never eat at fast-food restaurants

omelette with spinach and cheese in a pan on the concrete background top viewSunny Forest/Shutterstock

Omelets

Markup: 566%

You probably already know from your weekly grocery run that a dozen eggs only costs about $1.30, meaning the base for your three-egg omelet is only about 33 cents. Even after you add in those tasty fillings like ham and cheese, or spinach and mushrooms, each one can still be marked up between 471 and 566 percent, according to PlateIQ.

Carbonara pasta, spaghetti with pancetta, egg, hard parmesan cheese and cream sauce. Traditional italian cuisine. Pasta alla carbonaraSea Wave/Shutterstock

Pasta

Markup: 809%

A serving of dry pasta only costs about 25 cents, and even with a homemade sauce, each serving will only cost about $1.43. Unless a restaurant is going through the labor of making its pasta from scratch, a $13 pasta dish is marked up more than 800 percent. Don’t miss these other foods that chefs never order at restaurants.

cup of coffee on a dark backgroundMarie Tsyganova/Shutterstock

Coffee

Markup: 825%

Using the brewing instructions from Starbucks ground coffee, you’ll end up paying about 20 cents per serving. Buy a tall brewed coffee from the store, and you’re paying 825 percent more than you would by making your own.

Ukha russian fish soup with trout, parsley, herbs and vegetables in it and a ground pepper nearby with rosemary, crushed pepper and a fresh bread on the craft paper on the dark background.Tastys/Shutterstock

Soup

Markup: 1,500%

Homemade chicken noodle soup only costs a restaurant about 30 cents to make, though a big bowl can cost $4.95, according to Forbes, making it one of the most overpriced things on a menu. If you’re concerned about “wasting” money on something you can make yourself, opt for thick soups like gumbo or chowder, which are more expensive to make but the same price for the customer, Forbes recommends. Check out these other 11 ways to save money while eating out at restaurants.

Variety of raw uncooked organic potatoes different kind and colors red, yellow, purple with various of salt over dark texture background. Top view, copy spaceNatasha Breen/Shutterstock

Potatoes

Markup: 512%

A pound of potatoes costs about 78 cents, meaning an individual spud is worth about 39 cents. On a menu, though, you’ll end up paying $2 to get one as a side, so you’re paying 512 percent more than you would baking your own white potato.

Composition with wine bottles. Red and white wine bottles, bunch of grapes, corkscrew, wine glasses on black background top view9dream studio/Shutterstock

Wine

Markup: 167%

A bottle priced at $15 at a wine shop might only cost the restaurant $10 on wholesale, but they’ll charge you $25 to $30. Plus, paying $8 a glass—even with their bigger-than-normal pours—means you’re paying more than twice as much as you would at a BYOB restaurant. Oddly enough, you’ll often end up being less overcharged (though still, of course, paying more) for the most expensive bottles on the menu, because the biggest markups are on the cheapest bottles, according to Wine Enthusiast. Find out which other 14 restaurant menu items are a waste of money.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.