I often write about various ways to save money. And when I speak to experts
about how to save cash on healthy food, one of their rules remains constant: Do
your own food prep. In other words, grate your own cheese instead of buying the
pre-grated cheese. Chop up your own lettuce instead of buying the bagged salad.
The idea being that you’re paying extra for the labor, and you can do that
That all made sense to me at the time. (Try it sometime—compare the cost of a
bunch of carrots to a bag of the shredded variety.)
And then, recently, my husband and I started eating salads with dinner every
night. And we got lazy. We occasionally cheated on the salad prep by dropping by
our local deli, which has a choose-your-own-ingredients salad bar. You know the
sort, perhaps? You choose a small spinach salad, choose a few ingredients, and
they toss it for you?
And then I realized that we were saving money by not doing the prep
ourselves. I did the math.
At my local grocery store:
- Bag of baby spinach: $3.99
- Grape tomatoes: $2.69
- Mandarin oranges: $4.39
- Feta cheese: $2.69
- Cucumber: $.99
- Chopped walnuts: $5.99
And that doesn’t include salad dressing. Those groceries would probably make
about six salads before I’d have to buy new spinach, tomatoes and cucumber, adding to the cost.
When I order salad at our local deli, the large size makes four salads and
costs about $8, depending on what I throw in there. And I have the option of
including yummy extras like edamame, beets, and hard-boiled egg. (I like my
salad. What can I say?) We never have leftover, wilting produce in our refrigerator, and the deli throws in the dressing for free!
Have you ever realized you were saving money by doing something the easy way?