My secret is out. Scratch that – I doubt I’m the only one who ever figured out this frugal hack on how to turn the tables of your local grocery store’s salad bar, but being that I usually see at least one person making the same mistake every time I go shopping, I’d wager more people fall for it than actually know how the math game works.
The way this works is pretty simple:
- The grocery store knows they’re gaming you because you’re paying a flat fee of $7.99/lb for lettuce, carrots and tomatoes at the salad bar (e.g. the usual American garden salad) which might cost anywhere from $1 to $4 per pound.
- The trick is to load up on items that cost > $7.99/lb when you buy them off the shelf — mesclun greens, specialty tomatoes & peppers, novelty mushrooms, specialty cheeses, higher value nuts, etc. These items are generally located in the row most difficult to reach.
- A Plain Jane salad bar may not have the more expensive specialty salad items. If that’s the case, avoid it entirely and make your own.
- Stick to the easy to pour dressings and avoid the molasses-like stuff. The best are vinaigrette dressings that contain extra virgin olive oil, which usually costs more than $7.99/lb off the shelf. Better yet, keep your favorite dressing in the frig at work or take it home so you don’t have to pay for any liquid weight.
This probably goes against the current “drive thru” mentality of contemporary Americans because, God forbid, you actually make a conscious decision about the food you stuff into your pie hole. But once you realize that much of our consumer based economy functions on consumers making mindless repetitive choices and ignoring Behavioral Economics 101, the aha moments begin to happen more frequently.
If you want to take this to the next level, just grow your own veggies on your deck.
New York Times
How to Beat the Salad Bar