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Fast. Easy. Practical Little Tricks for Eating Out on a Budget
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Fast. Easy. Practical Little Tricks for Eating Out on a Budget

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

I love to cook, love trying new recipes and experimenting with herbs, spices, veggies, grains, etc.  I love greeting my husband every evening with a nice wholesome meal. Lunch, however is usually on the run for him, he needs to have something that’s easy and fast to eat; so nothing easier than a sandwich.  But not any sandwich, a good sandwich.  First of all, make sure you buy a freshly baked sourdough, french, whole wheat, rye, pita or your favorite vegan  bread. (no eggs, milk, etc).  

Then, walk over to the nearest salad bar. They are the most practical/ inexpensive way to make great sandwiches, wraps, burritos, etc; using the best ingredients.   I use salad bars when I want just a handful of a certain vegetable and don’t want to buy a whole bunch, bag, or container. This way, you can combine different flavors and textures, without having to buy each one. They’re insanely convenient.  Just make sure it’s clean, safe, and properly tended salad bar.

Salad bars are usually priced by the pound, so be wise when choosing. Don’t go for the lower priced items (tomatoes, cucumbers) or they’ll quickly lead to a two pound plus salad that will cost you over $15. Luckily, you get to choose which items you want.

Here’s my usual method:

Marinated mushrooms, marinated artichokes, sliced black olives, and thinly sliced red onions; no dressing.  I also buy an avocado and a jalapeño pepper from the produce section of the store. All of this NEVER adds up to more than $2.50.  Whereas just buying an olive, mushroom or jar of artichokes would be around $6 a jar. 

Then I come home and chop the jalapeño pepper, combine it with the mushrooms, artichokes, olives and red onions and add a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and save it in the fridge. Next morning, when I get up to prepare his lunch, I cut the avocado, season lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil (few things bring a sandwich to greatness quicker than adding avocado). Slice the fresh baguette lengthwise and spread the avocado on both sides.  Then top with the veggie and jalapeno mix and simply grill and press in our Panini toaster.  Mmmmmm….  Who doesn’t drool over a toasty, crusty gourmet veggie Panini? 

This is a cheap and versatile trick to put the best sandwiches/ wraps together, without spending too much time chopping and slicing or spending a lot of money.

Salad bars today are stocked with so many things: deviled eggs, crumbled bacon, cheese, nuts, croutons, macaroni salad, tuna/egg/potato/pasta salad (usually loaded with mayo), cole slaw, even jello salad, cold chopped meat: ham, grilled chicken , miniature shrimp, turkey, prosciutto, etc., edamame, beets, tomato, tofu, radishes, black beans, corn, steamed broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, asparagus, green cabbage, parsley, celery, zucchini, peas, green beans, couscous, quinoa, hummus, grilled tofu  etc. etc.

 Just make sure you choose wisely.  I assure you that for under three bucks, you can make a delicious sandwich that’s big enough for at least a whole meal.

  Other options may be:

·      Roasted eggplant, onions and peppers with hummus

·      Sun Dried tomatoes, hummus, red onions, and spinach

·      Greek stuffed pita: lettuce, cucumbers, olives and crumbled tofu

·      Baba Ganoush, roasted red peppers, roasted zucchini, squeeze of lemon on pita

·      Falafel with hummus and sliced red onions on pita

It all depends on the variety the salad bar offers.  Be creative and please add your faves in the comments!

 

 

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