Lettuce – 62 cents a bag

That price got your attention, I bet! Everyone is concerned about fuel and food prices at present and with good reason.

Lately I have been making a greater effort to keep the food budget on target. I have been stocking up on sale items that we use on a regular basis (gotta love the 2 for 1 specials!), not buying so many convenience/treat type things like diet soda, crackers, cereals and chips, and taking at look at each item and the other choices instead of just flying through the store like a 747 buying everything I buy out of habit. I am buying "ingredients" much more than "prepared foods."

This has led me to notice one thing I was spending a lot of money on - lettuce. 2 people in this house go through 4 bags of lettuce a week. Pre-washed lettuce is now $2.50 a bag in our store which would equal $10.00 per week. BUT this doesn't mean we are not eating salad or lettuce!! I did notice that whole heads of red leaf and romaine, that are very robust in size, are $1.25 each. So, I opted for 1 of each of those.

Tonight I decided to shoot photos while I was preparing the lettuce. When I weighed the lettuce, I discovered that one head is actually equal to 2 bags (One head of prepared lettuce without the core weighed 15 ounces while one bag prepared lettuce weighs about 8 ounces) - hence the discovery that I now have it for just 62 cents per bag instead of $2.50. And I must say, last week I was surprised that the cut lettuce lasted 4 or 5 days - we ran out before it went bad.

So here is how I prepared it:

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Cut the lettuce in bite-sized pieces with a sharp stainless steel knife and place into large pot of cold water and stir well; allow to sit for a bit so that all the dirt sinks to the bottom. Remove the lettuce from the top of the water and allow to drain well in colander (and yes, instead of a colander you can use a lettuce spinner to remove the water). Place drained lettuce in plastic bag with a few holes cut in the bottom and keep refrigerated. The lettuce should last about 4 days.

Here are a few other vegetable specials I found this week:

- Campari tomatoes - these are slightly larger than cherry tomatoes and were the best value per pound this week in the store. I like to quarter them and put them on salads or use them in pasta or salsa.

- Mild Cubanelle peppers - these are not that hot - just a bit spicy. They were 3 for $1.79 while green bell peppers were $2.99 each and red bell peppers were $4.99 each. I was able to use one of them to make salsa and the others will be used for salad for the week.

And voila - the finished products:

Fresh garden salad with summer specials on produce.

Salmon with fresh-roasted salsa made in the food processor with oven-broiled campari tomatoes, onion and cubanelle pepper, lemon juice and Gourmet Garden's cilantro paste.

Microwave fresh corn - I put an ear of corn that was wrapped in plastic in the microwave for 2.5 minutes.

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