Our Favorite (Stupid Simple) Salad

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Our go-to salad is a combination of the vegetables we love best and the ones that cost the least amount of money. Get our formula below!


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Recently, someone mentioned that I don’t have a lot of vegetable recipes on my site.

This is true. I have a few salad recipes, and I talk about loading extra veggies into your soup or breakfast.

The truth is, while I have experimented with all kinds of vegetable recipes, we keep our meals in this season fairly simple – borderline boring for anyone who isn’t our family and has our tastes. Right now, we like it this way. It’s what works for us and helps us save money and eat healthy.

This means we eat a lot of veggies, but we generally stick to something cooked in a breakfast saute, green smoothies, raw or steamed veggies, and a daily salad. Nearly every day, we – including the 4 year-old – pile our plates with some variation of this salad.

salad with leftover beef

The recipe below is our go-to most of the year. In the fall and spring, we like to eat this one.

When I’m serving people who don’t normally like salad, I make this one.

Salad Bar

These days, at least once a day, we eat salad. As my kids grew older, I started serving the fixings buffet-style. They top and dress their salads as desired. For us, this method makes it more fun and crowd-pleasing.

Allergies & Special Diets

This salad is easy to make allergy-free. As a result, we can serve it to nearly any guests. The dressing is dairy-free, vegan, paleo, Whole30-approved, and budget-friendly!


Because we eat this salad nearly every day, I usually prepare all the veggies, chicken, and dressing on our simple meal-prep day. Then throughout the week, we simply lay out the fixings and let everyone make their own meal.

salad with chicken

Salads & Younger Kids

None of my kids really ate salads until they were at least four years old. We’ve had some stubborn selective eaters, but our philosophy is that we serve whatever we serve for meals, and our kids are welcome to eat as much or as little as they like. We encourage everyone to try lots of new food, but we don’t sweat it.

When they are old enough to understand – usually around 4 years old – we have a rule. They don’t get seconds on anything else for dinner – the pasta, chicken, bread, whatever – until their salad is gone. If they are hungry enough for more bread, they are hungry enough to finish lettuce.

That being said, I know what healthy foods my kids like and dislike, and I generally stick to ones that we all enjoy.

Our go-to salad is made from those items. It’s a combination of what we all love the best and what usually costs the least amount of money.

salad with falafel
Some salads are prettier than others. This one had lentil falafel.

Our Stupid Simple Salad Formula

  • Lettuce (we like romaine, but we eat what’s on sale)
  • Carrots (I use a julienne peeler on them – easy to store, easy to eat, and everyone loves it!)
  • Blended Greek Salad Dressing
  • Shredded Cheese or Avocado
  • Any other veggies on sale or in season (sometimes this means broccoli, sometimes tomatoes and cucumbers. Sometimes it’s nothing else)
  • Protein (we serve it on the side or on top of the salad. We use chicken, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, or simply leftovers)
  • Some of us love croutons, and I can’t blame them. We usually serve those as an option.

Normally, we round out the meal with Simple Yellow Mediterranean Rice, Deeply-Flavorful Baked Sweet Potatoes, or Crispy Baked Home Fries.

In order to save money, we focus our plates on veggies and healthy carbs. The protein is usually a salad topping.

Simple, Budget-Friendly Salad

This salad combines some classic favorites, budget-friendly veggies, and an inexpensive but delicious dressing to make our go-to side dish (and sometimes main course!).

Author: Steph Jenkins
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce (or 1 full head)
  • 1 carrot
  • 8 grape tomatoes, to taste (or 1/2 medium-size tomato)
  • 3 ounces cheddar cheese, to taste (or 1/2-1 avocado, diced)
  • 1/2-1 cup Blended Greek Dressing, to taste (see notes)
  • 2 cups leftover chicken
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 cup croutons
  • assorted seasonal or on-sale veggies (cucumbers, broccoli, etc.)
  1. Chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces, shred or julienne the carrot, and halve the grape tomatoes. Shred the cheese. Dice the avocado, if using.

  2. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. If you think you will have leftovers, omit the dressing and cheese/avocado and serve them separately.

Recipe Notes

What You Can Do Now:

What is your go-to salad? How do you make it budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing? Answer the question in the comments!

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