How to keep salads on your menu with soaring lettuce prices

While it seems that inflation is slowing down, food prices seem to continue to soar. There are some items, like lettuce, that have had meteoric jumps in price. A package of 3 romaine hearts , for example, can set you back anywhere from $7.99 to a whopping $10.99 at some stores. Restaurant chains are even removing their salads from the menu.

You’re not alone if you are considering dropping salads from your menu. But before you do, keep in mind that for top notch nutrition, dietitians, like myself, have long been recommending other salad greens.

So what should you put in your salad?

Even if you can afford romaine or other similar lettuces, now would be a great time to expand your salad horizons. Including various dark leafy greens will not only save you money but it will also up your nutrition.

Dark leafy greens are packed with an assortment of nutritional goodies including fibre and the B vitamin, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K along with minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Then there’s the colourful pigments, known as carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and offer anti-inflammatory action. The yellow carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin – (which are hiding under the green chlorophyll) offer a defense against vision ailments, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

Various dark leafy greens also supply anti-cancer compounds.

But if you, or your family are used to milder salad options, consider mixing an equal amount of your favourite green with some of the choices below. Then, gradually over time, up the quantity of the other options and decrease the amount of lettuce.

There are also lots of other vegetables that are very delicious in salads.

Many years ago, I started growing arugula and when I added some of my harvest to our salads, I certainly heard a lot of complaints. I was only adding just a little to the mix but over time, I really upped the amount. The grumbles disappeared and sometimes an arugula salad, with no other greens, would be on the menu – with no complaints. My family actually grew to like them.

Also consider options such as frozen vegetables, some of which you might want to cook slightly and cool before adding them to a salad. Keep in mind that frozen vegetables are frozen at the peak of their nutritional value so, in some cases, they may offer more nutrients than those that have been sitting around in the supermarket.

Here are some options to consider that will be kinder to your wallet.
• Kale or baby kale
• Spinach
• Arugula
• Shredded Brussels sprouts
• Shredded broccoli stems
• Shredded red cabbage
• Bok choy
• Collard greens
• Cabbage salads (My Roasted Sesame Cabbage and Onions is delicious either hot or cold)
• Frozen corn, green beans and peas
• Onions
• Pulses – chick peas, lentils and kidney beans
• Leftover steamed vegetables
• Cooked whole grains

Add some homemade dressings to stretch your budget even further.

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Categories: Food Security

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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