02/29/2012 04:15 pm ET Updated Feb 29, 2012

Save On Eating Out By Putting The Menu Down

Welcome to A Dollar A Day, where every day we'll dish out creative and quirky ways to save on your living expenses.

We're not going to tell you to stop eating out. Sure, that's an obvious way to save, but if you're like us and you work a busy day, cutting out restaurants all together is simply impractical.

To save some dollars in your restaurant budget, you'll need to become a defensive diner. That means not falling for the foie gras (duh!) and knowing how the restaurateur gamed the menu (huh?).

That's right. Restaurants employ the help of menu engineers to ensure that you spend more.

"The menu should function as a tour guide and prove to be the best salesperson in your company," advises Aaron D. Allen, a restaurant consulting firm.

For instance, strategically designed menus won't include dollar signs so you effectively disassociate the price from spending money.

"Featured dishes that are placed above the midline and to the right of the page are typically higher-priced items that the restaurant wants you to order," according to

Next time you're at a restaurant, check out the menu with these pointers in mind. And let us know other subtle ways restaurants entice you to spend more.