Friday, January 16, 2009

Frugal Fridays: Market Fresh

For today's Frugal Friday, I ventured to the food court in the tallest building in Seattle - the Columbia Center, at 4th and Columbia in Downtown Seattle. There are a variety of choices (several under $5) in the food court, but my focus today was the 'salad bar' at Market Fresh.

I put 'salad bar' in quotes, because the variety of items surpasses mere salads at Market Fresh. They have a whole section of hot foods, including favorites like mac & cheese, as well as a section of side dishes, pastas, and fruit - and of course, lots of salad fixings. One of the top sellers (based on witnessing lines of people waiting for a new tray to come out on many occasions), is the baked salmon - which was what I was there for.

For $3.69, I got two pieces of baked salmon, a mix of stir fried and steamed veggies (including green beans, red & yellow peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and onion), some brown rice, and a small spinach salad with red onion, shredded carrot, and peppers. It was plenty to fill me up, and the price was definitely right. Plus, they have compostable containers available!

The current going rate at Market Fresh is $5.99 a pound, meaning 3/4 of a pound of food would come to just shy of $5 after tax.

I find the tricks to eating at the food by the pound places (there are two others in the Columbia Center) is to not try to fill the container just because there's space left, and to avoid the heavier, water-laden foods. A plate full of salad greens or rice, with various toppings mounded on top will run well over $5. If you're eyes are feeling bigger than your stomach, or you really want to try a variety of items, just take a bite or two worth of each. You'll get to experience the flavors at their fullest*, without overeating or spending a fortune.

*I've read that after the first bite of a new flavor, we experience less and less of the flavor of the dish with each bite.

(Frugal Fridays is a weekly series dedicated to finding Seattle lunch spots where you can walk in with a $5 bill and walk out with a fulfilling, preferably healthy, lunch. If you have suggestions of places in the Seattle area with a great lunch for under $5 after tax, post a comment - I'd love the help.)

Market Fresh on Urbanspoon

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