The Expensive Salad Mistake We All Make When Shopping For Ingredients

woman shopping for salad ingredients
woman shopping for salad ingredients - Gahsoon/Getty Images

Salads aren't just side dishes. With the right ingredients, a salad can be transformed into a tasty and filling meal, perfect for a hearty lunch or dinner. Despite their benefits, salad creation can get costly. Keep in mind that grocery prices remain high due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, and certain types of fresh vegetables can be too expensive for some families. Fortunately, there's a surprisingly straightforward way to enjoy salad without breaking the bank.

When you're shopping for salad ingredients, only purchase as much as you need for a specific serving size. For example, avoid buying bags of greens and instead purchase the exact amount of lettuce (or spinach or arugula) that you'll need for the meal. If you're incorporating a protein such as chicken, consider how much you'll need to satisfy yourself and anyone else you're cooking for. You can combine this frugal approach with other effective cost-saving tactics, such as a meal-planning strategy that reduces your grocery bill by focusing on sale items.

Read more: The 6 Best And 6 Worst Grocery Stores To Buy Produce From

family making salad
family making salad - George Rudy/Shutterstock

The last thing anyone wants is a skimpy salad, especially at dinnertime. Accordingly, you'll need to figure out the proper amount of ingredients to fulfill tonight's menu. When it comes to proper serving sizes for salads, most people are satisfied with approximately one cup of greens and a half cup of any sliced veggies you plan to include. For a family of four, this equates to about four cups of greens and two cups of vegetables in total.

When it comes to more robust ingredients, such as meat, cheese, and beans, aim for about one cup total for a family of four. To ensure a good balance, feel free to mix these ingredients, such as by incorporating half a cup of chicken with half a cup of cheese. You can also incorporate croutons or nuts to add some nice texture to the salad, and you typically want just two tablespoons of anything super crisp and crunchy.

adding homemade dressing to salad
adding homemade dressing to salad - Miniseries/Getty Images

These days, most types of produce are available all year long, even when a certain fruit or vegetable is not currently in season. While consumers have access to a wider range of salad ingredients this way, overlooking seasonality will only add to your grocery budget. To avoid unnecessary expense, focusing on in-season produce is an easy way to make more affordable salads, especially when you're only purchasing as many ingredients as you need.

No salad is complete without dressing, but storebought varieties can get pretty expensive (especially when you're forced to buy more than you actually need). In this case, making your own dressing is a much better option, both for cost-savings and quality. If you want to keep things simple, a tasty balsamic vinaigrette consists of just extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with salt and pepper to enhance the flavor. You can also whip up homemade ranch dressing if you want something rich and creamy. It's no secret that salads are a wholesome, tasty meal, but these tips ensure they're affordable as well.

Read the original article on Daily Meal