8 Tricks To Spend Less On The Perfect Salad

01/16/2014 08:52am ET | Updated December 6, 2017
Detail of a beautiful salad buffet with a rich choice

For some, 2014 is the year of the horse. For you, it's the year of the salad.

But if you've noticed that filling a large takeout container with rabbit food is getting kinda costly ($14 for a plate of broccoli?), we totally hear you. By-the-pound salad bars can get real pricey, very quickly.

That's why we rounded up the healthiest, lightest options that'll keep your stomach full and your lunch at an appropriate price point. See our picks for "skips" and "scoops" at the salad bar below. Then get back to feeling virtuous.

The Veggie
Skip: Beets Scoop: You don't have to hit the scale to know that beets are seriously heavy business. Subbing in another root vegetable -- shredded carrots, perhaps -- will shave a couple bucks off your food bill.
The Dressing
Skip: Gloppy, fat-laden dressing Scoop: Costing just pennies, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar will be much friendlier to your wallet -- not to mention your waistline.
The Legume
Skip: Peas (Who really likes them anyway?!) Scoop: Edamame has more than twice the protein, so you can easily eat fewer and save yourself some cents.
The Fiber
Skip: Chickpeas Scoop: Go nuts for nuts. Walnuts are particularly lightweight, so they won't cost you much at the salad bar -- whereas if you purchased them off the shelf, you'd pay around $10 per pound.
The Cheese
Skip: Cheddar Scoop: Be honest with yourself: Once you're adding cheddar, you're probably piling on cheddar. Instead, try a few shavings of Parmesan, which is chockfull of umami flavor, so you need less of it.
The Fruit
Skip: Grapes Scoop: Swap in their virtually weightless dried version, raisins.
The Protein
Skip: Hard-boiled eggs Scoop: Eggs are cheap at the store, but at the salad bar they're an instant money-suck. Instead, load up on chicken, which is usually cheaper at the salad bar than it is in the meat department.
The Extras
Skip: Bland blocks of tofu Scoop: We know croutons aren't exactly diet-friendly, but in moderation they can be a super-flavorful addition -- and substantially lower in price.
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