The Whole Foods Salad Bar Hack To Save A Ton On Grilled Salmon

Whole Foods has quite the reputation for expensive, gourmet foods — you've probably heard the nickname "whole paycheck." Savvy shoppers know, however, that amongst all the pricey bits of beef and free-range eggs are some excellent deals on healthy, organic foods as long as you know your prices and how to shop for similar ingredients versus individual products.

One thing that Whole Foods does well is pre-made meals either in carry-out packaging or from the hot bar, salad bar, and olive bar. It's super easy to stop at a nearby location, grab everything you need for dinner — sides and all — and skip the cooking. However, you'll pay for the convenience depending on what you grab. If you're trying to save money, you should probably skip the hot bar altogether.

That's not to say that there aren't some deals to be found amongst the arrays of lettuces, proteins, and marinated veggies on display daily. The keys are knowing how much the ingredients cost elsewhere in the store, being mindful of weights, and not buying more than you need. 

Often an item can cost a lot more on the salad bar than it would if you just made it at home yourself, like hard-boiled eggs. One of the biggest deals you can get at the salad bar if you're a savvy shopper, however, is roasted salmon.

Hack your snack

If you love shopping at Whole Foods, but you're trying to save money, your first stop should be TikTok, which is filled with tons of hacks for pinching pennies in the spendy grocery chain. The tips and tricks are out there, from markdowns and closeouts to preparing copycat recipes of more expensive items and more. Some of the best hacks come from the salad bar — including buying cooked salmon.

If you like the market's whole-cooked Atlantic salmon filets but don't like the price (around $24.99 per @shannoncsw/TikTok), head to the salad bar and scoop up a box of shredded salmon for the much cheaper salad bar price of around $8.99 a pound. The same filets of salmon packaged whole are suddenly less than half the price when chopped up. It's even cheaper than buying salmon raw at the fish counter, which according to Thrillist, is around $13.99 a pound.

However, that doesn't mean that everything on the salad bar is a steal. Keep that $8.99 price tag in your mind when you're filling up a to-go box, and keep the size of the box itself in mind when you're scooping away.

Stick to a small box

When tackling the salad bar, don't go for the biggest box — your eyes are bigger than your stomach, as your mom told you growing up. Choosing a smaller box will prevent you from buying more than you need because you won't feel the need to fill up all that extra space. Popsugar reports that the small-size paper box holds around 1.6 pounds of mashed potatoes from the hot bar (also $8.99 a pound), so since you're eyeballing everything, a similarly dense product like salmon will fit about the same.

There are also scales placed strategically around all the grab-and-go bars — use them! One of the convenient ways to save money when making a specific dish is to shop for ingredients from the salad bar, like a few strawberries or some chopped veggies. Don't defeat the purpose of buying pre-shredded carrots for a carrot cake by buying too much and throwing half of it away when you get home. Your recipes call for a specific volume or weight, so if you're making salmon cakes with your salad bar fish, do the math if you need to convert the numbers, pop your container on the scale at the store, and only buy what you need.