15 Easy Salad Recipes for Pennies

15 Easy Salad Recipes for Pennies

Easy Salad Recipes 

When you’re neck deep in the thick of a swampy summer, the last thing you want to do is turn the stove on to feed the troops. And yet they need to eat. What’s a mom to do?

Throw together a salad is what!

And that’s just what I’ve been doing the last few weeks. Salad after salad after confounded salad, until I realized I’d made the same salad three times in a week. I was stuck in a rut!

So I sat down to make a list of all of the salad recipes in my arsenal. Surely I could think of a few easy salad recipes to shake things up a little.

I thought I’d share the list I made, because surely there are a few of you out there stuck in the same rut. Most of these are so simple that I just included the recipe here. But a few you’ll have to click through the title to find the actual recipe.

Lots of these recipes are meatless and we eat them as a main dish (or an only dish) instead of as a side dish. We aren’t vegan (far from — we raise our own beef!) but light meals are just more appealing during the summer. Amiright?

I also included the cost breakdown of each salad because we all know my middle name is frugal! I hope all of these easy salad recipes will help you keep your family happily fed whilst not condemning YOU to servitude in the kitchen.

 

15 Easy Salad Recipes for Pennies:

Salads are completely customizable to suit your families tastes, preferences, allergies and nutritional needs.They’re also very economical because you can omit or change up ingredients to use up what’s in your fridge, to use what is currently abundant in your garden, or to take advantage of the weeks sales.

They’re also easy to pack in individual Mason jars in the refrigerator for meals on the go.

 

Easy Salad Recipes

Taco Salad

I usually make this when I have leftover chili in the fridge, but if I don’t have chili, I just brown one pound of ground beef with a diced onion and stir in 2 cups black beans and some taco seasoning. Toss a head of chopped lettuce, a couple of tomatoes, and a can of sliced olives together. 

Set the table with the salad you just tossed, the meat mixture, 2 pounds of shredded cheddar or fiesta blend cheese, salsa, ranch dressing and a bag of tortilla chips. Let your family assemble their own salads. It can also be made with chicken or pork in place of the beef. 

Cost Breakdown

  • ground beef $3.00
  • tortilla chips $1.00
  • black beans $0.50
  • tomatoes $0.50
  • lettuce $1.00
  • cheese $1.50
  • onion $0.25
  • dressing $0.20

Serves 12 at about 66 cents per serving.


Easy Salad Recipes

Sunshine Salad

I don’t know if this is already a thing with another name or if I made it up. But whatever. We call it Sunshine Salad at my house and we eat it frequently, all summer long, because it’s such a favorite! It tastes just like sunshine feels, thus the name.

I simply toss equal amounts of cubed garden fresh tomatoes (a juicy variety like a beefsteak), sliced and quartered cucumbers, sliced bell peppers (or other varieties) and 1 thinly sliced red onion. Combine 1 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, a dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, and toss the dressing gently with the vegetables.

Get creative and add any other herbs from your garden. We particularly like fresh basil, chives and rosemary. I omit the red onion if I don’t have one (they don’t grow as well in my garden) and I’ve been known to add other veggies, too.

Let the salad marinate in the fridge at least an hour to blend all of the yummy flavors.  Serve with crusty bread and it’s a light, delicious meal!

Cost Breakdown

  • tomatoes $1.50
  • cucumbers $1.00
  • bell peppers $1.50
  • onion $0.25
  • dressing $0.20

Serves 12 at about 37 cents per serving. (Unless you grow a garden, and then you can eat all these delicious things free!)

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Potato Salad

Peel, cube and boil 12 potatoes and 5 eggs. I just boil the eggs in the same pot as the potatoes. Once tender, drain the potatoes in a colander, drizzle them with vinegar and let them chill in the fridge while you make the dressing.

First, make this homemade mayonnaise. Now let’s dress it up with about 1/4 cup yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup pickle juice, 1/2 diced red onion, 1 cup diced pickles (or more — you can never have too many pickles!), 1 tablespoon salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Chill the dressing in the fridge.

Peel and dice the eggs, leaving one round slice from the center of each egg intact to use for the garnish. Once everything is good and cold, mix the cubed potatoes, the diced, boiled eggs and the dressing in a large salad bowl. Garnish the top of the potato salad with the reserved egg slices, then sprinkle with paprika.

Cost Breakdown

  • eggs $0.50
  • potatoes $0.50
  • pickles $0.40
  • onion $0.25
  • dressing $0.80

Serves 12-15 at 15 to 18 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Basic Coleslaw Recipe: Under 18 cents per serving

If coleslaw isn’t a summer staple at your house, it should be. You can whip it up in under ten minutes, it’s nutritious, and it’s under 18 cents per serving! I’ll show you how to make the dressing from scratch to eliminate all the additives and preservatives, and the icky oils in commercial mayonnaise. 

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Broccoli Salad 

Chop 3 large broccoli crowns into bite-sized florets. Toss with a diced red onion, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup crumbled bacon.

You can cook and crumble your own bacon, or just be lazy like me and sprinkle bacon bits (but get the real kind and not the TVP kind) over the top of your salad. Sometimes I substitute halved red grapes for the dried cranberries, depending on what I have in my kitchen.

Dress with a mixture of 1 cup homemade mayonnaise, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup honey and 1 teaspoon salt. Easy, peasy!

Cost Breakdown

  • broccoli $2.40
  • almonds $0.50
  • bacon bits $0.40
  • onion $0.25
  • cranberries $1.00
  • dressing $0.40

Serves 12 at 41 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Rice and Black Bean Salad

I only make this salad when I have leftover black beans and rice in the fridge. Otherwise, I’d have to cook (gasp!). You could also use canned black beans, but you’d still have to cook the rice. 

Toss 3 cups rice (any variety), 3 cups black beans, 1 can drained corn, 1 diced red onion, 2 cups diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup minced, fresh parsley, 1/2 cup minced, fresh cilantro. Dress with a combination of 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon cumin and  1 teaspoon salt. 

Cost Breakdown

  • rice $0.60
  • beans $0.50
  • onion $0.25
  • tomatoes $1.00
  • herbs $0.50
  • dressing $0.40

Serves 12 at under 10 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad can be extremely easy and affordable because it’s good no matter what you put in it (almost)! Just keep in mind that fruit like bananas and apples oxidize quickly and should be coated with pineapple or lemon juice to preserve freshness. 

Chop whatever fruit you have on hand into bite-sized pieces and stir with a little pineapple juice (or a can of pineapple tidbits). If you want to get fancy, mix in 8 oz. vanilla yogurt or some whipped cream. 

Cost Breakdown: Costs will vary widely, depending on fruit used. Use fruits in season and home grown produce to keep costs down.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Quinoa Salad

Okay, this salad requires a little bit of cooking, but I make it in my instant pot so it still counts. I love that it’s extremely fast and easy to make (way faster than take-out), easy to clean up, and the whole family loves it!

Rinse 4 cups quinoa and add it to your instant pot with 4 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt and 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice. Cook it on high pressure for one minute. That is not a typo. Let the pressure release naturally (about ten minutes) while you slice and dice 2 bell peppers, any color, 2 cucumbers, 1/2 cup sliced black olives and 1 cup halved grape tomatoes. 

Fluff the quinoa with a fork, toss it with the vegetables, then dress it with 1/4 cup sesame oil (or any oil you like) mixed with 1/2 cup lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

Cost Breakdown

  • Quinoa $1.50
  • cucumbers $1.00
  • bell peppers $1.50
  • olives $0.75
  • tomatoes $1.00
  • dressing $0.20

Serves 8 at about 51 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Ramen Cabbage Salad

Yes, I realize this sounds strange. My sister in law makes it for family parties, and I was wary the first time I saw it. But it always disappears quickly! I love the combination of the crunch and the sweet and sour, tangy dressing!

Chop 1/2 head green cabbage. Crush 1 package of Ramen, just by breaking it up with your hands inside the package. Toss the Ramen bits with the cabbage. Add 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (both optional). 

Mix 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 3 Tablespoons of honey to make the dressing. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. 

Cost Breakdown

  • cabbage $0.50
  • Ramen $0.10
  • dressing $0.20

Serves 12 at about 6 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Salad Bar

This salad recipe is so easy it doesn’t require a recipe! A buffet-style salad bar make great sense because everyone can build their own salad exactly the way they want. It’s also very affordable, because you can use up all the odds and ends in your refrigerators.

You can use up leftover veggies, chicken, turkey, roast beef, ham and even lunch meats. If I don’t have any proteins on hand, I just boil a few eggs or shred some cheese. A dash of oil and vinegar make a great homemade vinaigrette. It’s a fantastic way to save money by using up all of your leftovers. It’s also quick, easy, delicious and nutritious.

Cost Breakdown: There are too many variables with this salad, but the more leftovers and garden produce you use, the cheaper it will be.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Club Salad 

This easy club salad recipe is a delicious take on my favorite sandwich. Made of tender turkey, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, and crispy romaine, this salad is so hearty and filling that I usually serve it all by itself!

I pretty much never have leftover bacon. That just doesn’t happen at my house. So this salad has to be planned ahead. When it’s on the menu, I usually cook bacon for breakfast, but set aside what I need before serving it. And by set aside, I mean hide it away in the dark recesses of the fridge.

Start with a bed of lettuce, my favorite is a light spring mix. Add turkey and ham — I freeze leftovers after cooking them for special occasions, or you can use deli meat, rolled and sliced into strips. Top with crisp bacon, halved grape tomatoes, creamy avocado slices, shredded cheese and sliced cucumbers. Then dress it up with my special homemade ranch dressing.

Cost Breakdown

  • turkey $2.50
  • ham $2.50
  • bacon $2.50
  • cucumbers $1.00
  • tomatoes $1.50
  • avocado $0.75
  • dressing $0.20

Serves 12 at about 95 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Ambrosia

This one is a crowd pleaser! My family likes it so much I usually make a double batch and we eat the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. It’s not the most nutritious salad, so I wouldn’t use it as a stand-alone meal, but it makes a great side!

Mix a 10 oz bag of miniature marshmallows, a 10 oz. bag of sweetened, shredded coconut, 3 (11 oz.) cans of mandarin oranges, 2 (20 oz) cans of pineapple tidbits (drain the juice from both the oranges and the pineapple) and a 16 0z container of sour cream. Gently fold the oranges in last to keep them intact. Refrigerate for at least an hour to blend the flavors.

Cost Breakdown

  • marshmallows $1.00
  • pineapple $2.00
  • oranges $1.20
  • coconut $1.25
  • sour cream $1.00

Serves 12 at about 45 cents per serving.

 


Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta salads are super convenient because you can make them ahead of time and just leave them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. It’s also nice that you can easily omit ingredients you don’t have on hand or make substitutions.

Boil 1 pound of pasta until al dente. I usually use garden rotini or penne pasta, but anything will work. Drain the pasta in a colander and toss the noodles with about 1/4 cup olive oil, then chill.

Toss the chilled pasta with halved cherry tomatoes, olives, sliced red onions, diced bell peppers and feta cheese. Dress with your favorite italian dressing, or combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey and 2 tablespoons italian herbs. Sprinkle with grated parmesan or romano cheese, or another hard, dry type of cheese.

 

Cost Breakdown

  • pasta $1.00
  • tomatoes $2.00
  • onion $0.25
  • bell peppers $1.25
  • feta $2.00
  • dressing $0.50

Serves 12 at about 49 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Bowtie Spinach Pasta Salad

I love the combination  of the fresh spinach, the juicy tomatoes, the chewy pasta and the flavorful, peppery dressing. Boil 1 pound of bowtie pasta until al dente, then drain it in a colander and toss it with 1/2 cup of olive oil to cool. If you have leftover chicken or turkey, this salad is the perfect place to use them up.

Once completely cool, toss the pasta with a pound of baby spinach leaves and a pound of grape tomatoes, halved. Dress with this creamy dressing: mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 1 teaspoon italian herbs and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated parmesan over the dressed salad and finish off with some more freshly ground pepper.

Cost Breakdown

  • pasta $1.00
  • tomatoes $2.00
  • spinach $1.55
  • seasoning $0.20
  • dressing $0.50

Serves 10 at about 51 cents per serving.

 


 

Easy Salad Recipes

Buffalo Chicken Salad

This salad recipe is so stinking rotten easy, it ends up on our table quite often! Cube and sautee six chicken breasts in coconut oil in a large skillet. Stir in 4 Tablespoons of Sriracha, or your favorite brand of red hot chili sauce. Let the skillet rest while you coarsely chop 1 head of romaine lettuce, 8 ribs of celery and 1/2 red onion. Toss in 3 shredded carrots and the chicken. Serve with your favorite dressing (I mix a tablespoon of sriracha stirred into my homemade ranch dressing). 

Cost Breakdown

  • chicken $3.00
  • romaine $1.20
  • celery $1.05
  • onion $0.25
  • dressing and seasonings $0.85

Serves 12 at about 45 cents per serving.

 


 

Simple Ranch Dressing for Pennies

Have you ever read the ingredients list on a bottle of salad dressing? Ranch is one of the worst. Not to mention the insane price!

You can feel good about feeding your family this 5-ingredient dressing that costs less than a third of the price of commercial salad dressings.

 


 

Mayonnaise recipe

Homemade Mayonnaise

This homemade mayonnaise recipe is the bases for several of the dressings in these easy salad recipes.

 


 

5 More Tips for Varying Your Summer Meal Rotation Without Having to Turn on the Oven

1. Wrap it Up!

Choose any of these yummy salads and wrap it all up in a tortilla for another great summer meal variation!

 

 

 

2. Or sandwich it!

Who doesn’t love a good sandwich piled high with yummy vegetables and dressings?

 

 

No Bake Cookies

 

3. Add a Dessert!

Need a quick, easy, cheap, no bake dessert to pair with all of your easy salad recipes?

Rich, Chewy No Bake Cookies: Only 11 cents per serving

 

4. Start dinner in the morning. If you wait until the kids are howling for dinner, it’s too late. Just take a few minutes to prep vegetables or get any portions of the salad cooked that need to be cooked, so they can be cooling. It will make dinner in the evening so much easier! It’s also more pleasant to work during the cool morning hours.

5. Cook outside as much as possible. If you need grilled chicken breasts for dinner, throw them on the barbeque. I’ve even been known to set my crock pot out in the garage on hot summer days.
 

 

You might like to read:

Cheap & Easy Snacks for Kids

25 Easy Summer Meals for Pennies

65 Easy Meals for Pennies

 

All of those easy salad recipes ought to keep you in delicious meals (while also cutting your grocery bill) until the end of the summer. There is enough variety here that your family won’t get bored, and you can prepare these nutritious salads in very little time without having to turn on the stove! What could be better?!

 

 

Pin these easy salad recipes for later!

 

 

What are your favorite easy salad recipes? Leave them in the comments below!

 

 

 

Let’s keep in touch! For more homeschooling inspiration and fun freebies, you can find Orison Orchards on FacebookPinterestInstagram and Twitter, or subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter!

 

 


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