Thursday, December 15, 2016
The Party Vegetable Tray
This is one of those things that was commercialized, about 15-20 years ago, but that party-givers have been putting together for decades, if not longer.
We probably all remember our mothers putting together a vegetable or relish tray. It was unheard of, in my childhood, to buy a pre-made veggie platter, nicely arranged in a sectioned, plastic tray. They just weren't sold in supermarkets. And now, many hostesses rely on these pre-assembled party trays.
If you simply don't cook, I can see buying some items for a party. But, really, assembling raw veggies takes zero cooking skill. So, I just don't "get" buying these.
Our Cash & Carry has 64 oz. vegetable trays on sale, this week, for $8.95 each. And that is a pretty decent price for that size, pre-assembled vegetable tray. 4 pounds of fresh vegetables, for almost $9, or over $2 per pound for carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and grape tomatoes (the actual cost is $2.23/lb). The most expensive item there is the section of grape tomatoes. However, at the same Cash & Carry, grape tomatoes sell for $4.17 for 2.5 pounds, or $1.66/lb. So, you're paying someone a lot of money to lay vegetables onto a plastic tray.
I wanted to see how cheaply I could put together a similar tray. Off to WinCo I headed. I bought 1 bundle of celery for 98 cents (it weighed almost 2 lbs), 1 pound of baby carrots for 98 cents, 1 12-ounce container of grape tomatoes for $1.48 ($1.97/lb), and 3/4 pound of broccoli crowns, for $1.10 (at $1.48/lb). I also bought Ranch dressing mix from the bulk bins for 58 cents (.10 lb at $5.81/lb). I used about 2/3 of the dressing mix, or about 38 cents worth. from my kitchen I used milk, vinegar and mayonnaise to make the dip, at about 25 cents. And I used a nice dish from my own kitchen to serve my veggie platter.
My cost was about $5.17, for 4 & 1/2 lbs of vegetables and 8 ounces of dip -- an 80 oz tray, instead of Cash & Carry's 64 oz tray. For a price comparison, 64 ounces of my homemade platter cost $4.14, less than half the cost of Cash & Carry's vegetable tray.
Time-wise, it took me about 10 minutes to rinse the veggies, cut the celery and broccoli and mix the dip, and zero cooking skills.
I know you probably already put together your own veggie platters. I just wanted to show you how worthwhile this is, to do yourself.