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Buying Only Half a Cabbage is Possible (Or ANY Other “Per Pound” Produce Item!)

10:36 AM MST
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Have you ever wanted to buy only half a head of cabbage or lettuce? Or only needed 1/4 zucchini for a recipe? Reader Kathy recently emailed me this article…and well, I had no idea!  I decided to venture off to my local grocery store and asked a produce worker and was amazed by his answer.

He stated that you can indeed buy any item that is sold by the pound and have it cut to the size (based on “per pound”) that you need – so onions, zucchini, cabbage, lettuce…you name it! Keep in mind that if an item is sold as a “unit” then you must buy the entire item. But if it is sold by the pound, you can have a produce worker cut it for you! I thought this was an awesome tip as it means that you’re only buying what you need, potentially saving money and reducing waste.

How cool is that!? :)

(Thanks, Kathy!)

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  • Lisa says:

    Collin, do you ever regret posting an idea? :(

  • Andrea says:

    Good idea, but it’s not really REDUCING waste when the other half of the item will probably hit the dumpster at the store because it is highly unlikely that another shopper will purchase the other half in that same day.

  • Kate says:

    Will some of you people please CHILL-LAX!! (That’s ‘chill’ and ‘relax’). Simply call your store BEFORE HAND and ask them: 1) do they provide this cutting service, and 2) if they do, what do they do with the other half. THEN, based on the info that you receive, make a judgement call.
    Our local, family owned grocery store DOES provide the service. Then, if they can’t sell the other half, they donate it to a local soup kitchen/shelter. (BTW…they make donations daily of a variety of things). Pretty cool, huh? :-)
    So, just call ahead.

  • StinkyPoopHeads says:

    And I thought I was smart ripping off extra bananas I wouldn’t eat. To find out they do this with cabbage and meat too! What a savings! Thanks!!!

  • Stephanie says:

    When I worked at Walmart, they threw out single bananas and such at the end of the day. Sooo much produce was wasted. Instead of donating it they throw it into a locked garbage container so people can’t pick through the trash. We threw produce out by the boxfull at the end of the night.

    • Jennifer says:

      Yet another reason not to shop at Walmaet. That’s just sad.

    • sandy says:

      Wow that’s awful. Millions of people starving and wally’s just dumps it in the trash

    • Jenna says:

      That is sad to hear throwing away single bananas. My store bags up the single bananas into small brown bags and sells them for $1.59. You usually get about 15 – 18 bananas which is a great deal. I have only had about 2 that were super bruised, the rest were perfectly fine. Wish more grocery stores would do this…

      • Alyssa says:

        Don’t throw bananas out! Freeze them. The skin will get real brown & ugly but the banana inside is still good. Great for smoothies & banana bread. No need to put them in a freezer bag just toss them in with the skin on.

    • Bryan d says:

      We no longer throw it out. All of our produce that is edible but not sellable is donated to the local food bank. This also applies to day old bread, today dated meats, and damaged or dented cans and packages of grocery items that cannot be sold. I know this because I am the one that sends it out the back door when the food pantry stops by 5 days a week. Please don’t lump all walmarts as being terrible places. A lot of good people work there and care about others.

  • Barbara says:

    I don’t think most people would ask for half an onion, potato, apple or other small piece of produce priced per lb. I don’t mean to speak on behalf of everyone but think about this logically. Someone might however, ask for one whole potato or one whole apple out of a very large per LB prepackaged item. Most people would probably request this service for items that are extremely large such as the 15lb head of cabbage that my publix always carries, the bananas that are sold 20 to a bunch or produce such as the bushel of asparagus rubber banded stocks wrapped in plastic. I live in Florida and almost all of the loose produce such as green beans, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus are sold in a plastic wrapped package with a foam tray sold underneath. I actually asked the produce manager last year when I first got here why the items are sold this way. He explained to me that it is part of the requirements of the local health agency that these types of items be sold this way. He said that it is never an issue to ask someone in the produce department for more or less. I had asked the question because I had moved from the north and where I had lived before you were able to purchase a hand full of green beans, cherries, grapes, and other items such as this. I have read a lot of the posts and think that most are making the issue to complicated. Not all of the produce at your local store will make it to the dinner table. So need to feel guilty, produce will rot and go to waste no matter how it is purchased. If you feel uncomfortable with buying half of something because of germs then by all means feel free to continue to buy wholes. Your decision to purchase a whole doesn’t effect me and my choice to purchase a half does’t effect you. So I say live and let live. I enjoy when Collin post questions that get people debating. I haven’t seen this much action since lemon-gate. Thanks Collin!

  • Angie M says:

    While the produce itself may not go to waste, this practice could cost a lot of other waste. Package A is on a foam tray and wrapped in plastic. You have them cut Package A in half. Now they will place your half on a new foam tray and wrap with new plastic and put the second half on a new foam tray and wrap in new plastic.

    As far as a money saver, time is money. How much do you save cutting something in half when you’re standing in line an extra ten minutes to get it all done?

    At my house we just find another way to use it up. I don’t even freeze and store, just plan my meals around it. I just like to get in and out of the store. I would rather have three cabbage meals in a week then stand in line to get something cut to just have it once.

    • Barbara says:

      I hear what you are saying but I am a small family of three. One of us is three doesn’t eat much and I personally don’t feel like eating cabbage five days in a row. Would you like to do that? If you do fine. I also think the point is being missed. It is my decision what I do with my money and my familys money as well as my time. I am not suggesting that anyone change their approach so I am not sure why so many people are suggesting that what others choose do do with their time and money is somehow wrong. If the whole buyers feel that strongly then do something about the waste in the stores. Criticizing the personal buyers, the splitters, that are on a budget and want to live a happy life with variety isn’t doing much to help the larger issue of waste. It also probably won’t change anything. Maybe, and this is just a suggestion start your own food coop and talk to the grocerers in your area about the waste of produce if you feel passionate about the cause.

  • Marissa says:

    youre amazing collin!!! thank you!!!!

  • Hope says:

    Half an onion lol I’d love to see the look on a produce worker’s face when I ask for something like that.

  • stacy says:

    I bet this practice really worked well in depression era times when families had to watch every penny they spent and could not afford to buy produce that did not last. I am glad this option is still available for people like my grandmother and her friends who are on limited income and cook only for themselves on most days and only need small portions. Hundreds of people go through stores each day and purchase items you would never think would be purchased. It may seem odd but there are so many generational, regional and socio – economic differences between all of us.

  • Sheila says:

    Why not just chop up what you don’t need and throw it in the freezer for later? Most things freeze pretty well, even things like tomatoes. That way you don’t waste, the store doesn’t have waste, and you have something on hand for next time or to make a big pot of soup.

  • Kim says:

    Thanks for the info Collin. Never thought of this before. We dont really have too much of a problem in our house because we own a Bunny!!! She gets all of our left over produce (with the exception of Iceburg lettuce, as that is not healthy for her). She loves Strawberry tops, Romaine lettuce cores, you name it! We dont waste much since we got her.

  • Ketsy says:

    There’s a thin line between saving and being cheap as there is between being frugal and plain down selfish. To each their own but when it omes to a topic like this one, people tend to care about themselves only and forget the big picture. If I walked into my grocery and needed produce for a big meal and only found halves of everything, I’ be pretty upset wouldn’t you. Think of a hundred ppeople walking in on a weekend to get something like a melon for a basket or tomatoes for a salad and found a hundred halves of evrything. Sad, sad! I throw a lot of produce out and i am in the process of learning better wats, maybe gardening, giving sone away to nighbors or elderly, etc., grocery shopping with a family or friend. There are better ways to save a buk than make your produce department look like a restaurant kitchen or better yet, te garbage of a restaurant kitchen. Also saving in other departments should make up for other expenses/losses, isnt that why we coupon?

  • Ann says:

    This is insane, and rude really to save a couple bucks? How about sharing the leftovers with family, neighbors, making a soup, freezing…. etc Really cutting into watermelons to find the ripest one just for one customer???? Entitled much…

  • mj says:

    i would love to be able to buy half of a cabbage
    Can U freeze cabbage?

    I prsonally frreee bananas/peeled/ ,cheeses

    • Ketsy says:

      I think you can freeze for other purposes like if ou are making boiled cabbage. The quality of produce is always compromised. However, I’ve frozen bread when I buy it BOGO and it maintains its freshness when thawed. Fruits like berries, mango, pineapple… Some people say freeze tomatoes ? Maybe for chili or soup but not for salads. I freeze peppers in slices and onions too for a quick scramble breakfast or stirfry.

  • Tracy says:

    These comments crack me up. People getting so worked up over produce. Thanks for the laugh. I just want to add that at my store I have noticed halves before, but they are always at a slightly higher cost per lb than the whole. So while whole watermelon may be $.69 lb, a slice will cost you $1.29lb. Just saying, some stores already mark up for this. I have once noticed ribeye steaks on sale for $$7 lb and a whole rib roast (aka, the steaks not slice) for a dollar less. I asked the butcher if he would slice the roast into steaks and viola, 6 steaks at $1 less per lb.

    • Ketsy says:

      We’ve heard nothing yet. I laugh too but I always wonder, even though it’s not my business, what it is people are saving money for? Children, diapers, vacation, designer bags, cigarettes, alcohol, clubbing, you name it, just saying… People are cutting their losses at the produce department rather than elsewhere.

      • kelly says:

        Ummm you really think children and diapers should be used in conjunction with your other examples. Why don’t we just let people do what they want with their own money without judgement.

  • ashley says:

    Colin, maybe doing a post about what fruits/vegis are good to freeze. I made chilli this week and brought out some pepper and onion that I had froze last month. Couldn’t taste a difference.

  • Bridet says:

    Collin, I appreciate each and every post on your blog! I learned somthing from this post that I did not know before :)

  • Kara says:

    I just bought almost two pounds of asparagus last night for almost seven dollars and the whole time I was thinking why do I have to buy so much I wish I could just get half a pound since its is only for two people. Why couldn’t you post this article yesterday. ;)

  • Lisa says:

    Seriously? How is this reducing waste? When they cut you 1/2 of a tomato are they going to put the other half on the counter or throw it away?

  • Debbie says:

    I used to work at Costco and they did some horrific tossing (actually compacting). I was so upset when I would see such waste. I asked if I could purchase some of the items that were being compacted at a discounted rate, but they said they were a write-off for the company and were not to be sold at a discount. I would have gladly paid a good price for the golf bag with a small hole by the handle. It was sooo sad to see all that was wasted when I know that people that would have greatly benefited by those items.

    • Debbie says:

      However, I know that they DO donate their extra baked goods to the needy – I just hope that they expand their giving to the other items too. I know that they base what they do on their member’s responses – so, if you are a Costco member, you may want to drop them a line and express your concern that they could donate other items (even the slightly used ones) to charity. Anything to keep all that out of our landfills and maybe put a smile on a needy persons’ face!!!]

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