Frugal Friday: Lettuce rejoice!


I put myself on a budget this month – partially out of necessity, but mostly out of curiosity to test my self-discipline.

I totaled up my entire discretionary spending (the amount I don’t HAVE TO SPEND on un-fun stuff like insurance, house payment, utilities, etc).  It was depressing how little was left.

But what is, is.  That’s all I have left to spend on completely frivolous items like food and clothing.  Food – frivolous? Yes, since I became interested in eating organic, whole foods.  I can blow a week’s worth of grocery funds by picking up a bottle of my favorite walnut oil and a hunk of Stilton cheese!

I used to buy the three-day old marked down baby greens, then learned their nutrition content had evaporated into the bottom of the vegetable bin. I might as well have eaten the tobacco out of a cigarette.

Thaiceberg-wedge-classic-lrgt’s when I noticed that you could buy a head of iceburg lettuce for as little as 89 cents.  Iceburg has really taken a nose drive over the past 20 years. It was once a staple – served at two out of three meals a day at my house.

Then it almost became gauche as consumers started to experiment with new salad greens, from baby greens, radicchio, arugula, Bibb, and chicory.

Once called “bachelor lettuce” because it kept so long in the refrigerator, iceberg lettuce might be making a comeback again.  Well, doesn’t everything? It sometimes is referred to as crisphead, and it is being crossed with other lettuces to improve its nutrient profile.

Because of my new budget consciousness, I’m suddenly craving  a cold iceburg lettuce salad with tomatoes and chopped carrots with Thousand Island like the one my mother used to make with mayo, catsup and sweet pickle relish.  Oh my. My mouth is watering as I write this.

Besides it’s Friday and I have only $1.35 left to spend until the new week starts tomorrow.  I’m off to pick up a head of iceberg and make iceberg – peanut butter sandwiches. I hope someone offers to buy my dinner tonight.

Here’s a new way to try iceberg which sounds interesting to me.  I’m going to try it with a plain ole vinegrette in place of the oriental stuff.  Oh, and I won’t be using chopsticks.

Stir-Fried Iceberg Lettuce

1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. rice wine or dry sherry
3⁄4 tsp. sugar
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 tbsp. peanut oil
4 scallions, cut on the diagonal
into 1″ pieces
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1⁄2 medium head iceberg lettuce, cored,
outermost leaves
discarded, inner leaves torn into 4″-wide pieces
Kosher salt, to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine or sherry, sugar, and pepper; set sauce aside.

2. Heat a 12″ skillet over high heat. Add peanut oil, half of the scallions, and garlic and cook until garlic is golden, about 5 seconds. Add lettuce; cook, stirring occasionally, until lettuce softens slightly, about 1 minute. Drizzle in sauce and cook until lettuce is just coated with the sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt, divide between 4 bowls, and garnish with remaining scallions.


2 thoughts on “Frugal Friday: Lettuce rejoice!

  1. Emily,
    I’ve always heard that iceburg has no nutritional value, so, please let me know what varieties you find that do have some nutrition to them.

  2. Martha – while iceberg is nutritionally inferior to other types of rabbit food, there is some good news. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) reports that plant breeders in Salinas, California have discovered that if they pried open the leaves of iceberg lettuces as they grew, the lettuces accumulated twice as much iron and calcium and five times as much vitamin C as common iceberg lettuce. So I guess you can look around from some lettuce from Salinas!

    It’s still better to eat a head of lettuce than a bag of Doritos!


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