Sunday, February 8, 2009

Alternative Salad-Barring

Grocery store salad bars are generally overpriced - which is to say, most salad bar ingredients are more expensive in $/lb. than they would be to buy separately.

However, if you occasionally need just a little bit of a rarely-used ingredient that would otherwise go to waste when bought in full-sized packaging, you have entered the zone where salad-barring could make sense for your budget. Also, salad bar finds are big step savers, so you are spared the time and effort to dice and shred. Sample items from a salad bar that could be used in other recipes:

Chopped veggies - onions, peppers, cucumbers, salsa
Shredded cheese - mozzarella, cheddar
Other crumbled cheese - feta, gorgonzola
Marinated veggies - artichokes, olives, tomatoes

A final bonus: the light circular foil pans offered for use (in addition to smaller plastic containers) are cheap, disposable, and convenient! When company is coming and I hit up Giant, I try to find an excuse to get a very small amount of something at the salad bar in one of these foil pans, so that I have a big, disposable container to send some leftovers home with the guests. You definitely save on this point, since these type of pans often retail upwards of $2 for a two-pack in the Glad/Hefty/Rubbermaid leftover-storage section.

Example frugal salad-barring scenario:
You need 1/4 c. white onion for a recipe, but your household almost never uses white onions otherwise. Any normal-sized white onion will yield far more than this, so instead, consider a serving spoonful of prediced white onions from the salad bar, for $0.50 or less. No waste, and no weeping at the cutting board later.

If you picked out a large circular foil pan (with translucent plastic lids), you can make either remove the onions and rinse out at home for future use, or make your recipe right in the foil pan (use a sheet of foil to cover, of course, while cooking).
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