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Cheapest (tasty) vegetables per pound?

...other than the obvious cabbage. (Actually, there are quite a few different kinds, aren't there?)

Just the edible portions.
Since the market pound includes the parts we discard, the results could be unexpected.
If used in salads, raw weight.
If they have to be cooked, then perhaps weight after cooking should be considered.
Some are not sold by the pound - make an educated guess.

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  1. bok choy
    snow peas

    1. pea shoots. I love these thrown into soup or stirfried with some garlic.

      bok choy

      9 Replies
      1. re: bitsubeats

        Pea shoots, really? I can't tell you how much they cost in NYC but I seem to recall they were pretty pricey even in Chinatown. What part of the country do you reside, bitsubeats?

        1. re: KTinNYC

          boston, I get a huge bag (probably over a pound) for like 2 or 3 dollars.

          1. re: bitsubeats

            Where are you getting these? They're cheap in the summer they were expensive when I last bought them at my local Asian market.

            1. re: poundcake

              I get them at kam man. I haven't bought any since december probably and they were cheap back then.

              1. re: bitsubeats

                bitsubeats, I think I know which kind you are talking about. I saw them in Chinese markets here in California. I can't recall what month it was, but I did see huge bags of it, truly unbelievable prices, very fresh. Looks like even pea shoots come in different varieties...


                1. re: grocerytrekker

                  The first pic is pea shoots and the ones that I eat. The last two are what I believe to be commonly labled as "pea tendrils"

                  They have curly little tendrils attached to them

                  the first one is easy to clean and prepare, I have no idea about the 2nd variety as I have never cooked them.

                  not traditional, but whenver I have leftover boiled, then congealed pigs feet...I chop them up and sautee them with some garlic and pea shoots - absolutely delicious

        2. re: bitsubeats

          The thing with pea shoots is that you need to clean them and that removes almost half of the whole package. If you don't, it's so fibrous.

          1. re: chowser

            really? maybe you are talking about pea tendrils

            1. re: bitsubeats

              Yeah, the second one in the pictures that grocerytrekker posted but my MIL has always called them pea shoots and they're what we get at restaurants, too. I've never made them but have seen my MIL with a huge sinkful of them that become a single small plate after cooked.

        3. carrots, onions, potatoes, jicama. greens can be cheap, but they cook down dramatically. escarole, kale, mustard greens. i bought a pound of pea tendrils the other day for about $3. i probably got 6 or 7 servings out of that.

          this also has to take region and season into account. corn on the cob can be had for 10 ears for $1 here in massachusetts in august, but not all year. same with stuff like apples and pears and root veggies.

          1. Yes, major seasonal and regional differences and regional specialties.
            I just found a list of common veggies to start with.

            Artichokes - ends up being quite expensive, how much is it really per pound? We throw most of it away.
            Asparagus - any bargains?
            Beans - which are the tastiest fresh beans?
            Broccoli - what's the price in your area?
            Cabbage - red, napa, bok choy, yes, and so many more...
            Carrots - varieties?
            Cauliflower - again, different kinds
            Corn - major seasonal price (and taste) difference
            Garlic - so cheap sometimes
            Leafy greens - a major category
            Lentils - (not veggie? If you include beans and peas... ) talk about variety...
            Lettuce - ditto
            Mushrooms - wild ones are not cheap
            Onions - many different good-priced varieties. Which is the sweetest?
            Peas - fresh peas are not cheap. Bargains?
            Peppers - fresh peppers can be very expensive. But now and then I see huge amounts at incredible prices
            Potatoes - vegetable? what about other root veggies?
            Radishes - kinds?
            Rhubarb, chard...
            Shoots, sprouts
            Squash - summer, winter...
            Tomatoes - best value?

            3 Replies
            1. re: grocerytrekker

              Sweet potatoes. Turnips, rutabegas and parsnips. Do dried beans count?

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Of course they should. Frozen, too.
                We are looking for value here.

                Some of the fresh vegetables we buy end up being cooked, and sometimes there is little discernible difference in the final preparation. Some might even argue they taste better after being dried (remember sun-dried __?)

                So beans, lentils, mushrooms, hot peppers... seaweed...

                It would be very interesting to see how these reconstituted ingredients compare price-wise per pound.

                1. re: grocerytrekker

                  Dried beans are probably the cheapest per pound of finished product. Bulk dried beans are incredibly cheap, and they expand double or triple (or more) when cooked.

              1. re: littlegreenpea

                I doubly second beets. $0.39 /lb loose at my local grocer. Yum on salads, in soups, by themselves.

                1. re: MaggieMuffin

                  I love beets, but beets cook very slow - minus points for energy/time consumption!

                  1. re: welle

                    You can microwave them (although I don't think it's as good as roasting). I try to be efficient and roast a whole bunch of things at once. Last time I'd broiled something, so the oven was already hot, so I roasted some red peppers under the broiler, and then turned it to bake and roasted beets, onions, sweet potatoes and celery root. I then had roasted veggies for a week! BTW, if you've never thought to roast celery root, I highly recommend it. It didn't turn all grey and soggy the way it does when you boil it, and had less of that bitter/metallic flavor.

              2. I also tend to buy a lot of my vegetables from my chinese grocer (which is usually much cheaper than at a major us chain) and I buy some vegetables from the "reject bin" in the produce aisle. Once I found like 10 red peppers for $3 that were perfectly fine. I had to use them up fast so I roasted them and stuck them in a jar of olive oil. I also buy apples from the reject bin as they are usually still good and eggplants as well. I can get good prices off of these, but a lot of the time all they have are huge bunches of brown/black bananas.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bitsubeats

                  i shop in chinatown for most of my produce too. lemons and limes are usually 3 or 4 for $1 as opposed to 79 cents for one at the chain. jalapenos are about $1.50/lb. vs. $3.99 at the chain. this is true for all the produce.

                  there is also a weekly wholesale produce market here on weekends that's incredibly cheap. 10 lemons for $1 kinda thing, escarole 2 for $1, asparagus $1/lb. ridiculous to buy stuff at my local supermarket, where the asparagus is $3.99/lb.

                  1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                    Rutabagas to me are like turnips - I am at a loss as to how to make them really flavorful, as they have a strong flavor to begin with. How do you do them?

                    1. re: Seldomsated

                      they are very tasty roasted or sauteed.

                      1. re: Seldomsated

                        I just cut them into pieces,steam them, and add butter. Love' em!

                        1. re: Seldomsated

                          roast rutabegas and turnips (preferably together or with carrots, celery, potatoes, onions/shallots/leeks, or golden beets) with melted butter (or olive oil) and either savory herbs (thyme, sage, crushed bay leaf, you can add portabellas too) or with traditional "baking" spices like allspice, mace, cinnamon, touch of cloves. toss a couple of times while roasting with a wooden spoon. serve with a roast or eat right from the pan. leftovers for lunch or strewn on salad greens. puree leftovers and add a touch of cream, buttermilk, soy, or whole milk for an awesome soup, garnish with garden chives and homemade croutons. to freaking die for. do yourself a favor and choose the teeny turnips, they have better texture and the big ones can be bitter.

                          in addition to tasting awesome & their great nutritional profile, root veggies are forgiving to the cook, they're actually really hard to screw up, as long as you don't undercook.

                        2. re: Jimmy Buffet

                          7 years later boil some country style ribs in water and salt till tender take out pull off bone put to the side put in diced rutabagas add sugar salt and pepper to taste it takes a good bit of sugar when rutabagas are done add back pork put over rice

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Yeah, I was thinking cilantro too. Tons of flavor for under $1.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Absolutely. At Mexican or Asian grocery stores I've found cilantro for as little as 49 cents a bunch. Any root vegetable (carrots and beats are my favorites) steamed, cut into sticks, and tossed in cilantro, olive oil, salt, and pepper is delicious! And talk about a cheap salad.

                            2. Potatoes are so versatile, and the prices almost always quite good. Zucchini is a good bargain at its peak - very little wastage with it, and it can go in a lot of different cuisines. Parsnips may not be really cheap, but very little waste and great flavor. Fava beans can have good prices, once the season goes on. Some waste of course, but hey, they're favas! Mmm!

                              Not the season for them right now, but squash is a good deal I think. You can get several sides out of the bigger ones, and also toast the seeds and eat.

                              Besides Chinatown to shop in for good values, if your city has a Spanish section, check that out. Here in SF, many good very reasonable produce shops are in the Mission area.

                              You didn't mention that they had to be fresh - so frozen vegies can also be a good bargain, especially if on sale. I like frozen green peas in particular - started adding them to potato salad and they are fun - popping in your mouth unexpectedly! Trader Joe's has shelled edamame, so there is virtually no waste with those.

                                1. The $1.49 for a head of big head of brocoli seems like a great deal to me.

                                  We sometimes look at the cost per nutrient -- for example, brocolli is so much better for you than say cauliflower. So since caulilflower is $3.49 a head, brocolli is both half as much and twice as good . . . making it a great deal.

                                  1. I love water spinach. (Ipomoea aquatica)

                                    Also known as ong choy (sometimes on choy), kangkung.

                                    Simply sauteed with garlic, salt + pepper.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: grocerytrekker

                                      Here's a picture - courtesy of biotech.tipo.gov.

                                    2. bean sprouts, 80 cents a pound at the local Asian market.

                                      1. When I buy for my restaurant, zucchini is almost always the cheapest vegetable (we arn't talking herbs here I don't think)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Scootboy

                                          I don't like zucchini but yellow crookneck and they're never cheap - at least not out west.

                                        2. If we are talking about any vegetables, then I am guessing potato. If we are talking about green vegetables, then I am guessing napa cabbage.

                                          1. Green beans. They often go on sale at my store for $1/lb at all different times of year and there is very little, if any at all, wasting of it. They're very versatile too.

                                            In season, various squashes... zucchini, butternut squash etc. Oh and sweet potatoes... although I use those more as a starch than a vegetable.

                                              1. USDA Economic Research Service created a report in 2011 (based on 2008 data) to summarize how much vegetables and fruit cost, and to also price out the most affordable options per edible portion. It's about 30 pages, but the discussion at the end summarizes nicely (tables on pages 28 and 29): http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/133287/...