The cafeteria at the college where my husband teaches has a salad bar. You an make your own salad with whatever toppings you like, but there’s one little catch: The price of the salad is based on weight.
The heavier your salad is, the more you pay. If you load up that salad with meat, veggies and dressing, it’s not that hard to create a $9 salad. Not to mention, that you probably don’t really need to eat a month’s worth of rabbit food in a single sitting.
I was reminded of how much salads can cost at the cafeteria when my husband shared this post on Taco Salad Tips with me. It was written by a state capitol worker who also pays for salad by weight. The author of this post focuses on creating a tasty taco salad for under $6. He watches out for things that weigh a lot, and instead bulks up the salad with lighter fare.
For example, if you’re looking to bring the cost of your salad down, you’re going to want to go light on the heavy items like tomatoes, broccoli, meat, eggs, and cheese.
This strategy makes some sense. I’ve applied a similar grocery shopping strategy in which I weigh the bags of produce to get the most bang for my buck and shake off the water before my produce is weighed.
But then, there’s the cheapskate in me that thinks a little bit like Phil Villeareal, author of Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel. If you really wanted to get the most value out of your salad, wouldn’t you load up your salad with the most expensive ingredients you could find? You could consider all of the components of the salad bar in terms of cost per pound. In that situation, you’d probably want to make a salad that was mostly meat, nuts, and out-of-season veggies to really get the most for your money. Of course, if you made your salad that way, you’d probably have to consider the health ramifications. Higher calorie items with less nutritional value may not be good for your weight.
And then there is reality. What good is getting a great deal on a salad if I don’t want to eat it? If you’re at the salad bar to get a great salad, make it the way you want it. Yes, you can be aware that some items are going to make the salad weigh more, and limit those, but you don’t have to eliminate them altogether. And you can “splurge” on some of those higher priced salad bar options if they truly appeal to you.
Of course the best way to make good financial choices at the salad bar is to simply walk past it! Bring a salad from home using fresh veggies from your garden. Save money on premium salad ingredients by using coupons and buying fresh produce in season or shopping at your farmer’s market. You’ll be able to create a lunch that you enjoy without having worrying about the weight of your salad causing your wallet to weigh less.
Do you grab lunch at the salad bar? What’s your salad bar strategy?