Salad Bar Econ: 'Veggies Can Be A Trap' : Planet Money A stats guru explains how to get the best deal at the salad bar.
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Salad Bar Econ: 'Veggies Can Be A Trap'

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I love a deal, I hate getting ripped off, and I eat a lot of salad.

So I'm perhaps the ideal reader for "How to Beat the Salad Bar," the column in this weekend's Times Magazine from stats guru Nate Silver.

Silver's approach is straightforward: He goes to a local Whole Foods, where everything on the salad bar goes for $7.99 a pound. He compares that price against the price of individual items on the grocery store shelves.

His findings include:

The choice of lettuce is key. Avoid romaine ($3.06 per pound off the shelf) at all costs — and consider baby spinach ($6.67) and mesclun ($7.99) your friends. ...

Veggies can be a trap, but especially beets ($1.84), carrots ($1.69) and red onion ($1.99). A few white button mushrooms ($3.99) can perhaps be indulged in. The real value, however, is in sun-dried tomatoes — cheaper at the salad bar than on the store shelves ($9.99).

Also cheaper at the salad bar: toppings like almonds and gorgonzola. Hence Silver's parting advice: "Go crazy on toppings." Read the whole column here.