It’s hot. The idea of turning on the oven when you just escaped from baked sidewalks and marinated in your own juices in the streets really has no appeal.
Solution? Salad. Yeah, opening that box of pre-washed lettuce or spinach is all you’ve got energy for…but you want more. Some protein, something with crunch, something sexy.
Personally, I can’t get worked up over lettuce. I see those leaves as just a vehicle for dressing; a supporting role for the main act of protein whether it’s fish, chopped up leftovers or something like beans and nuts.
Good news for us with frugal but fine palettes! You don’t have to use lettuce. As I write this post, it’s early September, and kale, spinach and cabbage are coming in to season. This means your discount bins at the grocery or farmer’s market stall are stocked with really affordable and healthy greens.
Shred that cabbage and make yourself some coleslaw. Grab that box grater if you don’t have a food processor, and you’ll have a heaping pile of DIY coleslaw any way you want it.
If you like it creamy, make your own mayonnaise and add it to the mix with some grated onion. If you’re trying to stay away from high-fat dressing, just add some lemon juice and a bit of olive oil to keep it from drying out, and there’s your no-effort coleslaw.
Spices: Add some caraway seeds, chili, try some zatar for a bit of an exotic kick.
Protein: Open that can of tuna. It deserves so much more than a tuna casserole. If you have any other fish on hand, go for it.
Fruits and Nuts: Have an awkward amount of raisins or granola hiding in the back of your pantry shelves? Toss that last teaspoon of cereal into your salad. Peanuts, sunflower seeds and almonds are terrific, too.
Spoon serving sized portions of plain chopped salad or ‘slaw into single serving sized containers. Just before you head out, add your dressing, some fish, some nuts and you’re good to go: Salad on the run.
Cost: A head of cabbage is currently available from 99 cents a head to $1.27. Broken down to five servings, that comes to a 25 cent portion serving (without the toppings.) Try buying a single serving of coleslaw for less than $3 – this DIY version is fresher, tastier, and way more affordable.