Cheap Date: Eat Your Weeds

The Traumatized Budget
2 min readAug 29

It’s Purslane season, darlings

Context is everything. Chances are, if you saw this succulent plant packaged up in the cool refrigerated transepts of your gourmet grocery store, you’d be all curious to pay and try.

But if you’re yanking it from your own garden, familiarity breeds contempt.

This is purslane. It is the only weed I eat.

I eat it every summer. I throw it in salads and saute it lightly with eggs or toss it with boiled potatoes. In fact, I eat it while I am actually weeding, sometimes. I do.

Once or twice I’ve also used rose petals or pansies from my garden for cake tops or salad, but those don’t have the lovely underdog allure of the common purslane.

Purslane grows in abundance in my area this time of year. It is edible, delicious, and massively good for you. It has a flavor a bit like spinach, and a bit like asparagus, with a twist of lemon at the end. The texture reminds me of asparagus tips, although some have described it as okra-like (no fur, though).

I’ve found chicory, wild strawberry, wild garlic, and young pokeweed in my garden at various times, plus I must have a lot of other stuff I don’t recognize. But I’m timid, and haven’t rooted around too much.

The unorthodox food site Chowhound (may it rest in peace) once hosted one of the best discussions I’ve seen about foraging for edible plants in this geographic region. EatTheWeeds is a helpful online guide with an especially helpful section on nonedibles. The Organic Nature News archive is a good source of nutritional information. And among influencers, Black Forager is one who had made me feel emboldened to get out there and try things.

There are some basic guidelines: never eat anything that may have been sprayed with pesticide, never eat anything you do not recognize, and, if you are in an urban area, don’t eat the taproots of long-rooted plants (like dandelion) from a garden that is on a major thoroughfare, because lead from gasoline may have leached into the soil over the years.

But for Gibbons’s sake, stop paying Whole Foods for packages of pansies. Do I have to teach you everything?

(okay, just this).

The Traumatized Budget offers perspectives on finance and frugality. I am not a qualified or licensed financial advisor, just a flippant human with opinions.

Say, drop me a line. I’d love to hear about your goals, triumphs, misfires, you name it. Keep going — and don’t lose your nerve!

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The Traumatized Budget

I’m a 60 (😱)-something bohemian with a mountain of debt and regrets. Can I dig out before it’s all over? I brake for poets.