That is to say, how to eat the most expensive foods for the least amount of money. This piece from the New York Times, offers some useful strategy for the salad bar, where the price of a meal is based on weight (not the ingredients you chose): “Avoid romaine ($3.06 per pound off the shelf) at all costs — and consider baby spinach ($6.67) and mesclun ($7.99) your friends.” Also avoid carrots, beets (heavy and cheap) and opt for blue cheese dressing over Italian. And if you find bacon bits, load up. They’re worth “a whopping $21.28 per pound.”
Here are some similar strategies for eating at an Indian buffet, including sticking to items that, when served as entrees on the menu, are most expensive—typically meat dishes. “You should be good at fishing out only the high-value bits from the curry with an elegant, clean Azharuddin-worthy flick of the wrist. If a cooked-to-order masala dosa is offered, you are permitted to eat the dosa, but not the potato-based masala. The rationale behind this is that even though the dosa is made from cheap ingredients, it is a value-added product because of the specialized expertise and time required to make it properly… If others stare at you, it is their problem, not yours.”
More deep thoughts on the economics of eating out, from the Marginal Revolution blog.