Saving Money at the Salad Bar

salad bar

When you’re eating out, the salad bar is often a good healthy option, but when they charge by weight that fresh food can add up! How can you get the most out of your meal tray?

Nate Silver at The New York Times posted an interesting piece a couple of weeks ago on getting the most bang for your buck at the salad bar. He looked at the per pound price for the salad bar and evaluated items based on which ones were the best bargain for the price. A little planning can go a long way when you’re talking about a salad bar that charges you based on weight at the end. Here are a few highlights from Silver’s piece:

  • Choose a fancy lettuce. You’re paying by weight, so the higher the usual per pound cost for that lettuce, the better deal you’re getting.
  • Go light on the dressing. Silver gets into detail about what dressings are a bargain and what aren’t.
  • Get expensive toppings. Think fancy nuts.

A Thrifty Salad

While the NYT piece was about beating the per pound price, I think it’s also important to fill up your bowl with things that are just plain not heavy. Start with a base of lots of leafy greens, then pile lighter options like shredded carrots, nuts and seeds, chopped celery, and other light choices. Choose your heavy items carefully – things like beets, grilled mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and cubed tofu weigh that tray down, so keep it in mind when you’re filling your plate.

Going light on the dressing can make a big difference, too. In fact if you’re getting that salad to go, why not add dressing when you get home? It’s much cheaper!

Have you guys found any tips to save some cash at the salad bar? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

h/t: Thanks to reader Jo Borras for the tip!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Natalie Maynor

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