How often have you browsed the produce section in your grocery store and walked away with sticker shock from the prices? Sometimes fresh anything can be the most expensive thing on the grocery list. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re trying to transition to fresh eating or maintaining a fresh eating routine. Here’s just one of the many ways my family is transitioning to fresh vegetables over the summer starting with romaine lettuce from the clearance rack and a little creativity.
The problem here is “what can you do about the cost of fresh”? I’m not really one to sit around and overpay if there is another option.When I saw a pack of clearance romaine lettuce in the grocery store, the thought of giving my clearance lettuce a second chance became reality.
How to regrow romaine lettuce from the clearance rack
and tips on shopping to save more in the store.
Look at my lettuce! I got some romaine lettuce off the clearance rack at my local grocery store last week and some of the leaves were brown but the inside was OK. It was a big pack of three romaine bunches and the price was marked down from $2.99 to less than $1.00. Anyone who knows leafy greens knows romaine can be a bit expensive. I have found lots of day old vegetables that had lowered prices because there was a wilted something or another in the bunch. I found a bunch (and by bunch I mean about 20) lose carrots that had been bundled together to be sold at discount around the holidays. There were literally 2 bad carrots and the rest were in great condition. I just picked out the bad ones and turned the rest in to something marvelous! My day old carrots were the highlighted vegetable in our holiday recipes like stuffing, roasted honey carrots and in my stir fry mixes with onions and celery.
Tip: I use a Food Saver machine to preserve chopped veggies for the freezer when we buy in bulk. A large pack of celery, carrots and onions can quickly become a few freezer friendly packs of pre-made stir fry mix with a Food Saver. My Food Saver was a small investment that has since repaid itself over the first few uses. I highly recommend getting a Food Saver for your kitchen if you are serious about saving on frozen veggies and preparing bulk purchases of meat to be freezer safe!
Let me show you how easy it was to regrow the clearance lettuce we found at the store.
We tend to keep a lot of the plastic cups and containers to reuse for things around the house. Check out my post on Thanksgiving Day Leftover DIY Containers for tips on how we reuse containers and keep the good Tupperware at home around the holidays. The container we picked for regrowing lettuce is perfect because it’s clear and allows the romaine to get plenty of sunlight. It is large enough to fit 3 romaine bases in at once. We check on the romaine bases every day and refill the water line to about 1/3 of the way when the water level gets low.
My kids were pleasantly surprised to come back about 3 days after we had initially chopped the lettuce and saw regrowth from the romaine bases! This has turned out to be such a cool little project for them and they are asking what else we can regrow. We’ve got plans for green onions, celery, potatoes and even have a few avocado seeds around here to try to regrow.
We should be able to get a good serving of lettuce from our regrown romaine about once every 2 weeks. This will allow time for it to regrow.
Our day old lettuce turned out to be pretty amazing. But, perhaps I should stop here and define the true meaning of “day old”.
In grocery store terms, “day old” means the product is close to expiration or no longer visually appealing to buyers. Anyone who has been to the “day old ” bread store knows exactly what I am talking about. There is mostly nothing wrong with these products and they are safe to consume. There will however be the loaf of bread that has mold or meat that has clearly passed its expiration date.
This is why it is important to learn to become a smart shopper and check it out before your buy. Use good judgement and make sure the product passes the visual and smell test. If you can see that there is more good than bad or smell it without losing your lunch, you are OK. Trust me in saying the smell test is not always as pleasant. We picked up some chicken that the butcher had literally just marked down. I am glad we knew a smell test was necessary because it was foul and I think I turned green. This even applies to fresh meat. There have also been times where fresh was simply not fresh.
Some folks would only see the wilted piece of whatever in most cases and keep on walking. I can certainly say that I was second guessing the romaine lettuce at the grocery store. It was clearance lettuce so I was not expecting much. However, it’s what I did with it afterwards that is paying off big time! I brought it home, cleaned it and put the romaine bases in water at the window seal and I have new lettuce growing!
Here are a few of my plans for our new crop of romaine lettuce…
- Save my daily used coffee grounds to mix in to the potting soil for nutrients.
- Reuse some of the plastic peanuts at the bottom of the pot when we replant our lettuce. We are going to layer from bottom to top – plastic peanuts, a few paper coffee filters to keep the dirt separated and then potting soil mix to plan our lettuce in.
Tip: We purchased an OXO Stainless Steel Salad Spinner awhile back at a fancy kitchen store and it has been one of the best investments for cleaning lettuce and other veggies. My kids love mashing the top to spin the lettuce clear of water and you will get perfectly dry salad in no time!
This is the OXO Stainless Steel Salad Spinner that we use all the time! It’s dishwasher safe and packs up easy to store when not in use!
My clearance lettuce has grown about 3 inches since we bought it and we will soon transition it from water to soil. This has been a pretty awesome experience for my kids as they wake up every morning and run to the kitchen to check the lettuce. Even I am pleasantly surprised because I am the big salad eater in the house. Romaine is normally the more expensive of the leafy green choices but has an awesome crunch and goes well on sandwiches and in salads. So my day old clearance lettuce turned out to be a pretty sweet deal. It was half the price and will probably keep us fed for the summer or longer if we can keep it alive and going for that long.
Until the next Hot Mess…
Product highlighted in this post: FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System with Starter Bag/Roll Set; OXO Steel Salad Spinner