Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Savy Spender

There are plenty of days when it would be easier to purchase a sandwich at a deli or make a salad at a local salad bar, but did you ever think for the price of that one sandwich or salad you could have bought each item in a supermarket for less money and you would have more meals!

There are many times when it is easy to just grab a bite out, but wouldn't it be just as easy to prepare meals and have them waiting for you in plastic containers? After reading the article How To Beat The Salad Bar from New York Times Magazine it got me thinking about how much money I save by preparing all of my salads at home.

Every Sunday like clockwork I wake up and go food shopping. I usually stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables along with a few other things (next week I will talk more about my groceries). Monday through Friday I prepare myself a Fruit smoothie with A Hint of Greens and for lunch I prepare myself a big salad.

While I am aware that purchasing groceries saves me money it is interesting to see it in comparison to a salad bar within a supermarket as described in the article How to Beat The Salad Bar. Nate Silver went into Whole Foods in Union Square (a store I frequent) and compared prices from the salad bar with the prices from the produce section. It is very interesting to see how each item holds up.

While I was working in an office setting often times it would slip my mind to bring lunch, or I would forget it at home and each time I did that it was $8 out of my pocket spent on a salad bar salad of mixed greens with sorted vegetables and chicken. In one week you can spend $50 on lunch alone, and that is if you are only having a salad.

With the same $50 you can go to a grocery store or farmers market and have a salad bar in your own fridge for a week!!! I find it key to keep vegetables pre sliced in containers in my fridge that way there is no thought when preparing the meal it is all taken care of. All it takes is a little extra time one day a week. If you cut 2 hours out of your day you will have time to go grocery shopping, slice and dice vegetables into containers, hard boil some eggs instead of spending $2 per egg and hey you can even make some turkey meat sauce while you’re busy slicing.

Here are a few items I always have on hand:
  • Sliced Vegetables
    • Peppers
    • Cucumbers
    • Cherry Tomatoes (you don't even need to slice those)
    • Broccoli
    • Hearts of Palm (also available in glass jars and come pre sliced, I prefer to cut my own)
    • String Beans
  • Clean Fresh Fruit
    • Keep a bowl full of fruit on a counter so you are sure to grab that before opening a junk food cabinet (Apples, Bananas, Pears, Peaches, Avocados)
    • Grapes in a bowl in the fridge so you can easily grab a handfu as well as frozen grapes, they make a great snack not only on hot days
    • Sliced up berries for easy eating
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
Next week I plan to go into detail on how to live on a budget and cook all of your meals... stay tuned.

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