Don’t Bag It

by Rachel on July 1, 2009

Good morning!!

So, let’s talk about how to save some dolla dolla bills today. Buying fresh produce is what makes my grocery bill go up. If I could live on pasta and chickpeas alone, I’d be a rich woman! The only thing bigger than my bank account would be my ass.

If you are trying to save money on your groceries, here’s a tip I wish I’d discovered sooner: when it comes to produce, skip the packaging!

In the 90s, food companies started cutting and bagging produce, and it was kind of a revolution for busy, working people who wanted to cook at home. Bags of shredded lettuce were shocking! Now, of course, we’re used to buying those for weekly salads. You can also get pre-cut carrots, broccoli, celery, stir-fry mixes, and fajita veggies. But paying for this convenience can add quite a few dollars to your bill!

Let’s take lettuce for example. A bag of salad mix will cost about $3 and, if you are like me, will make you approximately one salad. A bag of romaine hearts will cost the same, but you will get at least three salads out of it! So you can spend $15 for your weekly salad base, or hack the hearts apart on your own and pay $6.

The day I figured this out was a great day in my poor, recent-college-grad existence!

So many veggies are cheap and last in their uncut forms. Sweet potatoes now come individually wrapped, but why? Just buy a bag of them. Or buy them unwrapped! WTF, sweet potato makers?! And summer squash and zucchini are two of my favorite go-to side dishes…why buy them pre-cut on a bed of Styrofoam when it takes all of 30 seconds to cut them at home? You generally get less product for more money when you do it this way. I can buy a large red onion just every two weeks (and I love onion) and chop as I go, or I can buy the pre-cut kind–in a non-recyclable plastic container, of course–for and extra $2 and it will last me a week. Oh um thanks for cutting it for me, but gee…no thanks!

Buying non-packaged veggies is good food karma. You’re saving money, you’re not creating waste and saving the planet, and you’re saving nutrients. Vegetables and fruits start to lose their valuable nutritional benefits once they are cut, so if you let that pre-cut broccoil sit in the fridge for a few days, it’s going to have less of the stuff that made you buy it in the first place!

Buying veggies pre-cut generally adds about a dollar to an item, and it’s simply not worth it. That’s a dollar that could be spent going to buying organic, splurging on some almond butter, or just put in the bank! I hate cutting veggies, I really do, but I’ll suck it up and spend 5 minutes slicing it, because when it comes down to it, I’m more likely to be cheap than lazy.

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