3 worst value-for-money food experiences Singaporeans go crazy over

Any Singaporean who's not obsessed about food may as well give up his pink IC. Other than shopping, our fellow countrymen spend most of their time stuffing their faces, whether with carrot cake from a hawker centre or goose liver at a high end restaurant.

Hence, it's not surprising that Singaporeans spend a ton of money on dining out, ahead of their regional neighbours in the Asia-Pacific including Japan and China.

Sure, sometimes you have to let go and treat yourself. Can't be eating Gardenia bread at every meal, right? Besides, a quality meal is worth paying for if you take the time to enjoy it.

But still, there are some food experiences that offer poor value for money, but that Singaporeans love anyway.

1. High tea

If you're paying top dollar for a juicy steak, you might consider it money well spent. But high tea offers poor value for what you get. For the price of a good meal at a decent restaurant, you get tea, some scones and small bits of food that amount to no more than snacks.

Worst of all, everything comes in kids' size. If you're willing to pay top dollar to feel like a tai tai, then going for high tea might not seem like such a bad idea, and I can see why some people pay for the experience at iconic locations like the Peninsula in Hong Kong.

Otherwise, you're basically paying the restaurant or hotel $40 just to take out their little stacked tea tray.

Alternative: You'll probably end up paying less if you just order a pot of tea and some cake or sweets to share.

2. Brunch

Brunch isn't really a meal. It's a lifestyle choice. You could just eat normal lunch food like the rest of us, but no, you choose to eat eggs on toast or pancakes at 12 noon. And you're going to pay for it.

You see, breakfast foods aren't supposed to be expensive or take a long time to prepare. That's why people typically pay more for lunch than breakfast.

So when you pay a lot of money for brunch, more often than not you're paying lunch prices for something that costs the restaurant breakfast prices to make.

If you're going to pay $15 for a French toast or pancakes, you might as well opt for a proper lunch instead-oops, but then it wouldn't be brunch anymore now would it?

Alternative: Having plain, boring old "lunch" might not sound as hip but usually gives you more bang for your buck.

3. Buffets

Mathematically, it seems to make so much sense. You pay a set price and then you get to eat as much as you can, which means that technically you can eat your money's worth and more, right? Right?

Unfortunately, if you're a person of average or small appetite, many buffets aren't going to be worth your money.

Even people with relatively large appetites might have a more enjoyable time ordering a la carte, since buffets encourage people to eat till they reach vomiting point, which isn't exactly a pleasant sensation.

In addition, restaurants try to lure diners away from the expensive items by placing filling, cheap fare like bread and rich soups right in front.

If you're going to get your money's worth at a buffet, you'll have to be strategic about it or risk wasting your money. Go for the most expensive items first, not later; stay away from filling foods like rice and avoid drinking more than you have to unless it's a liquid buffet.

Alternative: Stick with a la carte. Chances are you can become reasonably full and still end up paying less.

If you are going to dine out and splurge, do remember that the type of credit card you use to pay for the meal does matter and can actually help you save. Credit cards that have dining rebates or discounts are a good way to maximise your dollar.

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