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Old 09-20-2012, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Volcano
12,595 posts, read 10,525,800 times
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This is a spin-off of a discussion in another thread about using pre-chopped vegetables from the salad bar for convenience in cooking....

The price per pound of salad bar items is typically 6 - 8 X as much as the average per pound price of the individual whole produce items found there. That's why supermarkets love, love, love salad bars, because they are so much more profitable compared to just selling you the raw, unprepared produce.

Buying for one? Don't do a lot of cooking? Never use up a whole onion or green pepper before it goes bad? Then, yes, then buying an ounce or two of chopped veggies vs. the individual whole items might be a smart move for you if the total cost is less than the smallest quantity of whole items will cost, and you're seriously going to just throw away what doesn't go into that one lowly omelet.

On the other hand, if you're cooking for a pack of hungry wolves, or you do cook fresh meals frequently and can use the excess ingredients in other dishes, then you'll certainly come out ahead buying the individual items and preparing them yourself. After all, the only place you'll pay steak prices for raw onions is at a salad bar.

I think I'll have to pay a visit to the supermarket in order to illustrate what I mean...

******

Here are some real prices for these individual items at my market, today:

Roma tomato ...... .16 lb.... .84/lb.... $ .13
Onion, med. ........ .47 lb ... .84/lb... $ .39
Brown mushrooms .09 lb ...3.98/lb... $ .35
Green bell pepper .53 lb.......ea....... $.68

Total ................... 1.25 lb ...............$1.55 ... avg $1.24/lb

Versus produce department tubs of fresh:
Chopped onion...... 7 0z ................. $2.97 = $6.79/lb .... (8 X the price of the whole onion)
Chopped veggies.... 7 oz ..................$3.98 = $9.10/lb

Salad bar veg........ 1 oz ..................$ .50 = $7.98/lb ...(6.4 X the price of the ingredients)


Chop tomato ........................ 1 min
Clean and slice mushrooms ... 1.5 mins
Clean and slice grn pepper .....2.25 mins
Clean and chop onion.............3.0 mins
Prep and clean up ..................1.0 mins

Total......................................8.75 mins

1.25 lb of chopped food x $7.98/lb retail price = $9.98 value - $1.55 cost = $8.43 profit to Chef You
$8.43 profit to Chef You in 8.75 minutes = $.96/minute = effective hourly rate of $57.80/hr to chop them yourself!
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Volcano
12,595 posts, read 10,525,800 times
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After I posted that analysis, Elnina mentioned in another thread that the salad bar at her market was only $3.49 a pound, about half of what they charge in my neighborhood.

But OK, lets check and see what my "Do-It-Yourself salad bar prep by Chef You" calculations look like when the competition is only charging $3.49 a pound:

1.25 lb of chopped food x $3.49/lb retail price = $4.36 value - $1.55 cost = $2.81 profit to Chef You
$2.81 profit to Chef You in 8.75 minutes = $.32/minute = effective hourly rate of $19.29/hr to chop them yourself!

That's not nearly as dramatic as the previous analysis versus a more expensive salad bar, but it's still quite respectable. In effect you're paying yourself close to $20 an hour to chop your own veggies rather then buying them prechopped at a $3.49/lb salad bar.

And to close the circle on this thought, let's take a look at those tubs of prechopped onions. After all, chopping onions is not high on anyone's list of favorite things to do in the kitchen, and the tubs (or bags in some places) are just oh so convenient. So, using the same figures I gave above, this is what you effectively pay yourself to chop your own onions:

1 lb of chopped onions @ $6.79/lb value - $.84 cost = $5.24 profit to Chef You
$5.24 profit to Chef You in 6 minutes = $.87/minute = effective hourly rate of $52.40/hr to chop your own onions, instead of buying them already prepared!

Puts a little different slant on the value of lowly food prep work, doesn't it?
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:08 AM
 
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Salad bar in our grocery stores are 6.99 per pound.

I prefer fresh chopped veggies anyway over veggies at the store salad bar that have been prepped hours before.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Edmond, OK
4,019 posts, read 4,969,192 times
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I have no idea how much the salad bar is at our local grocery store. It's so pathetic looking, I wouldn't buy anything from it. It's nasty white iceberg lettuce, some wilted looking spinach, a few things like bell pepper and tomatoes that look about half bad, and some assorted jello, puddings and other mushy stuff. Very unappealing.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:15 AM
 
3,996 posts, read 3,359,477 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debzkidz View Post
I have no idea how much the salad bar is at our local grocery store. It's so pathetic looking, I wouldn't buy anything from it. It's nasty white iceberg lettuce, some wilted looking spinach, a few things like bell pepper and tomatoes that look about half bad, and some assorted jello, puddings and other mushy stuff. Very unappealing.
My coworkers are always complaining about the quality of the salad bar ingredients but they buy it anyway to bring for lunch. Really, how difficult is it to chop up some veggies?

The other thing I don't like about grocery store salad bars is that so many people walk around them all day long, since the stores place them in heavily traveled locations. How sanitary is that?
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Far from where I'd like to be
25,453 posts, read 31,957,858 times
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To some people, time is more valuable than money. And that's just fine. It's none of my business if people want to buy their vegetables already chopped or not.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Going back to the forest to be with nature's goodness.
14,536 posts, read 6,318,709 times
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I love food and food preparation and I don't get paid a cent no matter how you look at it.
Cutting, slicing, chopping, grating - you name it - it's a pleasure.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:51 AM
 
Location: The Hall of Justice
21,168 posts, read 19,077,155 times
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My Whole Foods has a very large, beautiful salad bar with all kinds of hot and cold foods, premade salads, and entrees. I think it's $8/lb. I don't buy from it much, but I'll admit to bringing home a couple takeout boxes from time to time when I'm out shopping and people are waiting back home for lunch.

In general, though, I don't find grocery store salad bars appetizing. They seem to be a conglomeration of weird, mismatched items like lettuce, canned corn, mandarin oranges, julienned beets, and chocolate pudding.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Edmond, OK
4,019 posts, read 4,969,192 times
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If Whole Foods was close by, then I might buy from their salad bar. It always looks wonderful, as does all their prepared foods. However, Whole Foods is about 12-13 miles on two different interstates away from me, so it wouldn't save much time or money to go to their salad bar. It would take 45-60 minutes round trip, plus the cost of gas for my gas hog car. If I'm already in that part of town, then yes, I go there, but otherwise, it's really just too far.
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Old 09-21-2012, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Volcano
12,595 posts, read 10,525,800 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohiogirl81 View Post
To some people, time is more valuable than money. And that's just fine. It's none of my business if people want to buy their vegetables already chopped or not.
I agree, it's none of my business what others do. But it's definitely MY business to understand what *I* am doing. And if my sharing what I've learned helps someone else to understand what THEY are doing, all the better.

I find that a lot of people don't really appreciate just how expensive "convenience produce" is until it is pointed out to them. Even the package sizes are strange, just to mask the sometimes outrageous costs, like the chopped onions in 7 oz tubs. That means the average consumer won't do the math in their head to calculate the cost per pound. But they do seem to understand when I point out that they cost more per pound than steak.

I think salad bars are fine as a way to grab a meal on the go, if that's what you need to do. My point is that other than very occasional use, though, using salad bars or other prepared produce items in your home cooking is quite a bit more pricey than most people realize.

And the other big surprise is, it doesn't really save that much time to buy prepared "convenience produce" if your kitchen is properly organized. Matter of fact, it's a lot less time saved than people think.

More on that later.
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