The Salad Bar Hack Struggle Meals' Frankie Celenza Swears By

If you like saving time and money, you'll be pleased to know that you can cut back on both at the grocery-store salad bar. It's true making your own salads for lunch is often cheaper than building one at Whole Foods. But there are a few ingredients from the salad bar that cost less than those from the shelf, especially if you only plan to use them once or twice.

One of those magic ingredients is roasted bell peppers. "Struggle Meals" host Frankie Celenza told Acorns that he loves heading to the salad bar for "semi-premade" ingredients. "If I'm making Romesco sauce, sometimes the salad bar has roasted peppers," said Celenza. "This saves me a step and 40-plus minutes," adding that it also prevents waste since he's able to get the exact amount he needs. Thanks to the salad bar, Celenza can make the bright orange Spanish sauce of peppers, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, and smoked paprika without ever having to turn on the oven to roast peppers.

Other ingredients you'd be smart to purchase from the salad bar

"Luxurious" ingredients that can be pricey on the shelves — like nuts, seeds, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and many kinds of cheese — are often more affordable at the salad bar, according to Thrillist and Budget Bytes. That means you can grab the specialty blue cheese required for that Ina Garten recipe for a couple of bucks instead of $10. Looking for more salad-bar savings? The Penny Hoarder also created an extensive list of inexpensive items and ingredients found at the salad bar. Surprisingly, you'll find some proteins like chicken, bacon, and ham are less expensive in small amounts.

Other foods might not save you money, but they will save you time. Pre-sliced onions make an easy base for plenty of dishes, plus they won't make you cry while chopping. Cubed cooked tofu will spare you the trouble of waiting for the water to drain from the block at home. And while beans are cheap in the canned-foods aisle, it might be worth selecting them from the salad bar if you need a variety of canned beans to make that perfect soup recipe, per Kitchn. After all, remember, time is money.