Making Your Own vs. Buying Pre-Made


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The other day I went to the grocery store to restock some produce.   I picked up some carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, bananas, Fuji apples that were on sale for $1/pound, and some other fill-in produce.

Grapes were on sale for 88 cents/pound.

Grapes in bag

And rather than buying bagged lettuce which is usually $1.99 at TJ’s or as much as $3.49 per bag at the grocery store, I bought a head of romaine for $1.99 and cleaned it myself.

Bunch of lettuce in bag




Slice off the bottom one inch and top inch.

Lettuce being chopped up on cutting board

Rinse the leaves in the sink.

Lettuce being rinsedI always wear rubber gloves when I am chopping and cleaning produce.  My hand skin would fall off and crack if I didn’t protect my skin from the constant washing, drying, rinsing, repeating, that I do all day in the kitchen.


Wrap in a few paper towels and shake, shake, shake.

Lettuce being dried with paper towel

Make a half dozen horizontal cuts.

Chopped up lettuce on cutting board with knife

Put in a bag.  Add a paper towel or two to absorb excess moisture to preserve lettuce life even longer and prevent sogginess.  Or, run lettuce through a salad spinner (however I don’t do this for the sake of time.  The shake, shake, shake by hand and adding a paper towel to the bag method works fine for me).

Lettuce put into zip top bag


I now have twice the amount of lettuce that I would have gotten in a pre-bagged mix and it took me about 90 seconds and I saved $3 bucks. I am all about saving money and cutting corners when I can.

Inside bag of lettuce

I once did a pineapple cleaning tutorial and felt a bit a lot silly posting How to Clean and Core a Pineapple, but I had dozens of people write to me telling me that they bought and cleaned their first pineapples because of that post and freed themselves of the habit of buying overpriced, pre-sliced pineapple or other fruits.

Whole pineapple on countertopDiced up pineapple

Bottom side of pineappleAlso included in that post were tips on how to see if a whole pineapple was ripe or not

So, my lettuce cleaning may be silly, but whatever.  I’d rather be silly than in debt. Maybe it will help someone else save a few bucks.

From my last post, thanks for all the great sweet potato cooking tips and ideas.  I know food bloggers and food blog readers love their sweet potatoes.

And apparently mustard and nooch, too.  Lots of you chimed in that you love both.  Me too!


1. Do you clean and chop your own lettuces/greens/salad mixes or do you buy pre-packaged?

I do both.  The TJ’s Organic salad mixes for $1.99/bag are hard to beat on price and convenience, but sometimes if they are sold out of my favorite blend or whole heads of romaine or red leaf lettuces or kale are looking especially nice, I will pass on the pre-bagged and just chop my own mix.   Takes maybe 2 minutes for me to wash and chop and bag up my greens and many times,  it’s worth it to me.

2. Anything that you think is just smarter to buy pre-made/pre-cooked/pre-chopped?

Most things I prefer to buy whole, or unpackaged, or prepare myself, but for my lifestyle and the sake of time/energy involved, some items I usually buy pre-made are:

Canned beans

Artichoke hearts

Frozen veggie burgers

Nut milk

I could make them myself and have but for the price/time/convenience involved, I buy them.

3. Anything that’s easy enough to make and you’re happy to make from scratch at home?

A few of mine are…

Crackers (Vegan, GF, Nut-Free, and can be made Sweet/Cinnamon/Sugar or Savory/Salty)

Vegan Cracker being held by hand

Chips like Kale Chips

Hand holding one Kale Chip

Hummus (4-Ingredient, Vegan, garlic & onion free)

Close up of 4 ingredient Hummus

Vegan “Turtles”

Bottom side of Vegan Turtle
Hand holding one Vegan Turtle

Peanut Butter Cups

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup split in half on paper liner

What do you make at home that’s super easy?  Or that’s definitely worth taking a little extra time to make at home rather than buying pre-made?


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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.


  1. I love buying pre-sliced mushrooms, and pre-chopped lettuce. I absolutely HATE making salads, and it is because I HATE washing lettuce. If I can avoid it, I will.

  2. We get most of our veggies from the CSA, so we are welll acquainted with washing lettuce. We use a salad spinner to dry it and then bag it.

    I buy premade salsa. I use to make my own. TJ’s is just better.

  3. I buy whole heads of lettuce and chop them myself too. I’ve never thought to do it all and once and store it in a ziploc though. That would be such a time saver!

    I always buy canned beans because the dried ones seem like SO much work. And I hate to say it, but I always buy hummus too. One of these days I’ll make it though!

  4. I went back to look at your pineapple post (I’ve been eating tons of pineapple lately, but all presliced) and I have to confess that I bust out laughing upon reading “Now you have a bald cylinder.” My dirty mind went there, oh yes.

  5. I try to not to buy lettuce in bags, but sometimes I do find myself grapping them. I need to do better, get money saving tip Averie! I will remember next time at the store :)

  6. For some reason – I never thought to chop it all up at once. Such a good idea, though! I’m guilty of usually just ripping off what I want, washing and throwing in a bowl.
    In terms of what I buy “pre-ready” I’ve found I’m wayyy more likely to eat carrots if I just buy the baby ones. Maybe a little more expensive, but it’s that or let a whole big bag go to waste.
    I definitely try to make a lot of my snacky things. Bars, crackers, cookies, bread, etc. Anything decent is SO expensive to buy! Sometimes the fun packaging always has me tempted to try stuff, but I’ve gotten good at “behaving”!

  7. haha you’re so good with washing your lettuce! i suck and i don’t even buy organic so major fail. my dad actually just yelled at me about this tonight. he was like “you didn’t wash that!” i said “dad i never do.” he’s like welll you’re gonna get pesticides haha i was like welp i have a strong immune system papa

  8. Gah….where do you shop??? Excellent deals.
    Excellent idea to cut up the lettuce and store…never thought of that.

    And my must-do-myself? HUMMUS. So much cheaper and I can make it to my liking …thick and chunky not creamy. I prefer it to store bought 100%

  9. I always chop and clean my lettuce! I’ve only bought pre-chopped ones maybe 2 or 3 times. I try to make my own as much as I can, but I usually buy pre-made nut milk and canned beans. Other than that I prefer fresh fruits and veggies much more! :]

  10. I love cutting my own pineapple! Canned can be good sometimes when in a rush (unsweetened kind) but the fresh ones are the best!!!

  11. My mother in law bought me a plastic lettuce knife this summer, and it’s awesome, the lettuce doesn’t go brown when you cut it! BRILLIANT!!

  12. I say beans! I hate making beans, regardless of how much better they taste. I buy canned, rinse the hell out of them, and use!

  13. I totally agree w/ you on artichoke hearts! It’s so time consuming AND pricy to get artichokes, I always get those canned…and they’re so darn good!

  14. Good info on cleaning. I’ll also chop, then drop into a salad spinner to clean.

    1. Yes, my salad spinner gets tons of use. Sometimes greens in my CSA box are extra mud-covered!
    2. I rarely buy pre-made packaged food now trying to buy as basic and close to nature as possible. It does save a lot of money and worth it if you have the time for chopping and preparing.
    3. Kale chips, creamy sauces, nut and seed milks, nut butters, coffee and salad dressings.