If you’ve ever wandered to downtown State College looking for a quick, healthy meal, you’ve probably walked into Fiddlehead on College Ave. Known for their bottomless salads, this soup & salad cafe is a go-to spot for any student looking to avoid the Chipotle line.

beer, wine, coffee, tea
Erin O'Neill

But have you ever actually looked at your receipt before grabbing a fork and digging in?

Their salads range from $7.25 - $12.75, not including tax. And if you want to design your own salad, the toppings (and price) are seemingly limitless.

$10+ for like...a lot of lettuce? This week I set out to see if I could make one of their salads for cheaper than the menu price. In the spirit of fall, I chose their seasonal salad, the Harvest Salad.

(One note, I personally substituted tofu for turkey, but it doesn’t change the price of the salad, and actually your DIY salad will be cheaper per serving.)
salad, vegetable, lettuce, broccoli
Erin O'Neill

Fiddlehead Harvest Salad - $10.35

Kale & Spring Mix Blend

Roasted Turkey or Tofu

Sweet Potato Chips

Roasted Corn


Dried Cranberries

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Then I headed to Giant, and picked up the same ingredients.

Erin O'Neill

DIY Version (cost per serving): $5.14

$0.89 Bunch of organic kale

$1.50 Nature’s Promise Spring Mix Blend

$0.91 Nature’s Promise Tofu

$0.10 Sweet Potato (for Sweet Potato Chips)

$0.28 Green Giant Whole Kernel Sweet Corn

$0.67 Giant Brand Pepitas

$0.60 Giant Brand Dried Cranberries

$0.19 Ken’s Apple Cider Vinaigrette

So here's how to make the salad: slice the sweet potato into thin "chips" and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Cook the meat/tofu as desired. Lastly, throw it all in a big bowl and toss with dressing. And guess what? My DIY version was literally half the price.

vegetable, salad, lettuce, spinach, cabbage
Erin O'Neill

Let's be clear, I still loooove Fiddlehead, and yeah, there is some effort involved (really the hardest part is cooking the meat/tofu and sweet potato chips, and even all that takes less than 15 minutes).

But if you’re a stingy college student like me, this will save you big time in the long run.

....while still taking a solid half hour to make a dent in that salad.