Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tomorrow's Lunch: Bacon and Feta Salad

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I hardly think you need a recipe for salad, but considering we've got an entire head of lettuce leftover from the burger meal, it seems like a good way to use it all up. Plus, salads are an easily transportable and healthy lunch option, and it's amazing to see how the cost stacks up against a mix-your-own salad bar.

Ingredients on hand:
1/2 head Romaine lettuce
Remaining tomato
Remaining onion
2 slices cooked bacon

Additional ingredients:
2 tablespoons salad dressing
2 ounces fat free crumbled feta cheese
2 ounces black olives

Special equipment:
1 large and 1 small plastic container (if transporting)
For the additional ingredients, I used Annie's Naturals Organic Pomegranate Vinaigrette purchased at Key Food and black olives and feta from East Village Cheese. If you've never been, East Village Cheese is an amazing cheese shop with ridiculously low prices, but the same items will definitely be available at a regular grocery store, though you might pay slightly more. Here's a breakdown of how everything added up:

Lettuce
Tomato
Onion
Bacon
Dressing
Feta
Olives
Total: 
$2.00 (half head)
$0.65 (1/4 small tomato)
$0.15 (60 grams, about 1/4 inch slice)
$1.40 (2 strips)
$0.50 (2 tablespoons at $3.99/8 oz. bottle)
$0.66 (2 oz. at $1.99/6 oz. container)
$0.50 (2 oz. at $3.99/lb.)
$5.86

To be honest, I was quite surprised to see how high the final cost is. I mean, it's higher than the entire burger meal! So I decided to compare it to the price of the same combination of ingredients at Chop't, a salad chain popular with the Midtown lunch crowd. I was shocked to see that, with tax, the same salad comes to $10.27! I mean, holy cannoli! That's a much bigger difference than the burger meal price, though having worked in Midtown I know that $10 is fairly normal for lunch out.

Your final cost may be different of course, depending on how much of the original ingredients you have leftover and what else you want to include since this isn't a strict recipe. Using olive oil and vinegar (red wine or balsamic) would be a great way to cut down on the cost if you're looking to get it even lower.

On to the recipe (if you can call it that):

Chop the lettuce into small pieces so it will be easy to eat with a fork. Place it in a large plastic container (if you're transporting the salad to work) or a very large bowl (if you're eating it slumped over your laptop in your pajamas like me...) The bacon you cooked with the burger meal should hold up for at least a day or two in a zip bag in the fridge; chop it along with the tomato, olives and onion and add everything to the mix.

(Tip: I like to soak chopped onions in cool water for about 10 minutes to remove some of the harsh oniony-ness when I'm eating them raw since there's little worse than a great salad interrupted by too-strong onions every other bite!)

Top with feta and snap on the lid. Measure out the desired quantity of dressing or oil/vinegar and store in a smaller plastic container. A zip top bag stored inside the larger container would also work, or you could look into investing in one of these nifty plastic containers that holds the dressing right in the top of the container.

Mix in the dressing when you're ready to eat and relish the thought that you've just saved yourself around $4.50 and half of your lunch break waiting in line for your meal!

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