"Reclaiming Homemade in a Small Space"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Money-saving tip #1: Bag your own salad.

When I was working full time, I was all about convenience.  I bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts, baby carrots and bagged salad.  Now that I am a stay-at-home-mom, my "job" is to save money.  If I save a buck here or there, I do it.  It has totally transformed my philosophy on food prep.  I look at most things and think, "Can I make that?"  I do save money, but end up using a bit more of my time.  You know the old adage, Time is money.  I started thinking about those convenient bags of salad....you can get spring mix, regular ol' iceburg blend, and fancy-smanchy bags with radicchio and frisee lettuce.  At my local grocery store, they are $3 to $4 a bag for 6 oz. of salad blend.  They go on sale from time to time, if you time that sale with a coupon, it is a good deal.  What can you do in the meantime?  Bag your own!

I bought two heads of lettuce, a green leaf one and a red leaf one.
I will spare you all the math, but I paid $3.50 for the nearly 19 oz. of lettuce above.  That is the price for ONE bag of lettuce from the store.

Now, it does no good for that lettuce to sit in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to rot because either you forgot about it or don't have the time to tear up individual salad plates from it.  I found that was happening to me.  I'd pull out a slimy, brown-filled bag that used to have lettuce in it!  I decided to prep my lettuce when I got home from the store so that it would be ready when I wanted it.  I tore up all the lettuce in bite size pieces, like I would do for making a salad.  Then the lettuce was rinsed and run through my salad spinner.
There was a bit of waste in the core and some of the yellow-y/white-ish  pieces at the bottom of the leaves.  It added up to 6 oz.
 It took me about 20 minutes to tear, rinse and spin my lettuce.  I placed it in a large 2 1/2 gallon zip top bag, with a slightly moistened paper towel.  The paper towel does two things, sucks up any extra moisture so the lettuce doesn't get water logged and rot faster.  It also adds moisture back to the lettuce after it has been in the crisper for several days.  Either way, it extends the life of your leaves.
I weighed it afterwards...and taking into account the bag and some of the water weight from rinsing, I had 13 oz. of lettuce.  To me it is worth the time spent.  I have a re-useable bag so I cut down on waste AND I get twice the amount of lettuce (of my choosing, I might add) for half the cost. Save even more money by buying some iceburg lettuce to mix in. This certainly isn't for everyone, but if you plan your time right, you can certainly save some money.  Give this spin and see what you think!


  1. Doing a little bit of rounding to make the math easy, you saved $3.50 for 20 minutes of work - equivalent to an hourly wage of $10.50. Not bad.

    Here is another take on this topic: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2010/03/11/convenience-foods-what-they-really-cost/.

  2. If the above link doesn't work for you, try copying and pasting. It worked for me when I did that.

  3. I did notice the blogger at thesimpledollar.com chopped her romaine. I like to hand-tear mine because if you cut red leaf and green leaf lettuce with a knife, the edges turn brown.