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Stretching Your Budget At The Salad Bar

MIAMI (CBS4) – Many people usually go out and grab a salad for lunch in hopes to slim down their waistline.  That same salad, however, could also be slimming down their wallets.

Around lunchtime people  hover over the salad bar piling on the vegetables; spinach, chick peas, cucumbers and carrots.  But those healthy toppings may be not so healthy on their budgets. .

A few leafy greens at a salad bar can cost anywhere between a few dollars and up to ten dollars a pound. With that price you may want to consider making the salad at home.

In fact, some salad bar ingredients can average up to 70% more than that what you'd find on store shelves.  Items such as eggs, lettuce, even chicken breast cost far less when purchased individually at a supermarket.

As for lettuce, Iceberg and Romaine cost you less than two dollars a pound at the store, where those at the salad bar could be spending up to five times more in green for their greens.

Spring mix and spinach are about five to six dollars at the store, which is close to the salad bar price, so they are best buys. They are the healthier options as well.

"The darker the colors, we always consider that more nutritious," said dietician Jo Ann Hattner.

So, what are the other best bargains at the salad bar?

At three to five dollars a pound at the market, mushrooms, snow peas, artichoke and baby tomatoes are also best buys while the cheaper cucumber, carrots and beets are a bum deal.

To top it all off, is the salad dressing. The price is usually determined by brand, but one clear bargain would be olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.

Both are best buys financially and nutritionally.

"Much healthier, much healthier," said Hattner.

As far as the toppings go, pile them on!

A savvy salad bar shopper can actually save money on many salad bar staples.

Croutons, cheese crumbles and nuts all cost close to or more at the store than at the salad bar.

Bacon bits are also a best buy at the salad bar compared to a whopping $21 a pound at a store but be careful not to go too crazy with that bargain because it may pack on a few calories as well.

"I'm not sure it's beating the system, because it's not that good for the body," Hattner warns.


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