Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Fruit Bowl - It's Cheaper Than Yours


I love fruit.  I usually eat 2-3 pieces of fruit each day, plus whatever I put in my morning smoothie.  My favorite way to eat fruit, however, is all mixed together in a great big fruit salad.  Especially in the summer when temperatures creep up into the 90's.  

Buying pre-cut fruit at the store can get really expensive.  I suppose you're paying for the convenience of not having to prepare it yourself but it's really a waste of money when you can make a huge fruit salad at home that will last for days.  

Last week when I went to The Dearborn Farm Market to buy my fruit I decided to save my receipt so I can compare the amount I spent on raw materials with the cost of buying pre-made fruit salads.  If you shop at either Westborn Market or Kroger, you'll pay $4.99/lb of fruit.  At Westborn, a container holding the amount that I would eat for lunch costs $7.50!  Anyone know how much Whole Foods charges?  I'm sure it's at least this much.

Panera offers a 5 oz. mixed fruit cup for $2.59 and Einstein has an 8 oz. cup for $3.17.  Although I do occasionally buy the one from Einstein, I refuse to spend the money at Panera.  Plus I've done so in the past and ended up with moldy grapes.  yuck.

My entire fruit salad cost me $18.68*.  I got 10 huge servings out of it, with each one being well over a pound, I'm sure.  It contained the following fruits:
  • 1 whole pineapple
  • 3 apples
  • 1 bunch of grapes
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 5 oranges (3 cut up, 2 for the juice only)
  • 3 kiwis
  • 3 peaches
  • 5 bananas
  • 1 container of strawberries (16 oz.)
*These were not organic fruits, which helped keep the price down.  Obviously you'll pay more if you want organic.

Here's the finished product:

I put the fruit in an inverted Rubbermaid Cake Keeper so, as you can see, it makes a lot of fruit salad!  (I should have weighed it but I don't - and never will - have a scale in the house.)

Okay, I can probably guess what you're thinking right now.  Who has the time to cut up all this fruit?  Isn't it a lot of work?  Well...yes, it is time-consuming but after making as many as I have, I've found little tricks and short cuts to speed up the process.  I'd say this particular salad took about an hour to make.  But what's one hour when you're saving money and ending up with a delicious fresh fruit salad that you can enjoy all week?

Tips to save time making your amazing fruit salad:
  • Don't peel apples, pears, peaches, etc.  It takes way too much time and you miss out on the added fiber and nutrients from the peels.
  • Use an apple corer and divider, then just cut each section into a few pieces.  I can prep an apple in one minute flat.
  • Unless you're concerned about a choking hazard for small children, don't cut the grapes in half. 
  • While I think that whole fresh pineapples are the most flavorful, save time by buying one that is already peeled and cored.  They're often the same price.
  • Use store-bought orange juice instead of fresh-squeezed to mix in with the fruit (the juice helps keep the apples from browning).
  • Alternately, use canned Dole Tropical Fruit Salad in passion fruit nectar.  The nectar will eliminate the need to add orange juice and you won't need to spend time cutting up pineapple, either.  It's not as good as fresh pineapple but if it's the only canned fruit you use, you'll hardly notice.
  • Use a citrus peeler to quickly remove orange peels.  Then just divide in sections and slice.
  • Use this neat trick for peeling kiwis quickly and easily.

And, as with anything new, start small.  Don't buy 3 of every fruit you see in the store.  You will be completely overwhelmed.  Choose easy fruits to start and slowly build from there.  Plus, fruit salad doesn't last forever so you want to be sure that you aren't making so much that you can't eat it all.  Not everyone's system has the same tolerance for fruit that mine does.  That, too, takes time to build!

One more thing.  I do not make a fruit salad every week.  I would get tired of making it and tired of eating it.  Yes, I'm sad when the last of it is gone and the next day I wish I had more but taking a break is a good thing. 

So there you go.  It's almost the weekend.  Spend a little bit of yours making up a fresh fruit salad.  You'll be glad you did!   

Do you make your own fruit salad?


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