I love a big salad for dinner—and on road trips, let’s be honest, often, veggies get ignored in favor of easier on-the-go options. So at least once every day or two, we opt for this big salad option, built out of leftover veggies and what we have in the food bag, plus a stop at a grocery store for a few added greens. The grocery store dinner is great because it’s faster than a restaurant, it’s controllable, so you don’t get $hitty dressings and tons of cheese (have you seen the nutritional facts on salads from places like Applebees!?) and if it’s nice out, you can picnic. Added to that, it almost always ends up SO much cheaper than a meal at a restaurant, even a place like Panera.
You’ll notice that this looks kind of plain—but it’s cheap, it’s wicked nutritious, and it’s almost entirely stuff that any grocery store, even a tiny one, will have!
If you’re in a good grocery store, I’m a fan of getting something more exotic than lettuce, but if you’re in a pinch, beggars can’t be choosers. Last night, I opted for baby arugula and baby spinach blend, and grabbed the one that was on closeout sale because it was the sell-by date. Since we’re eating right there, it doesn’t really matter! (Great way to drop the cost of the salad.) Peter got an arugula one—and we both opted for the plastic boxes of greens since they can act as our bowls and you can cover them up if you have leftovers.
Again, we went with what was on sale/cheap (which typically means whatever’s in season), and in this case, that meant a seriously ripe avocado, cucumber and a couple tomatoes. Nothing fancy at all here. I’ve also started to look for flavor additions like small packs of antipasto (olives + feta in oil from an olive bar in a grocery store) or a single dill pickle in a packet. They help with the ‘dressing’ side of things (see below) and give the salad a bit more flavor and bulk.
Want more salad tips? Check out my ‘make a baller big salad’ video!
We often get a full rotisserie chicken because a) it’s usually pretty cheap and b) it adds a bit of a complete meal feeling in a way that some other canned or cold options just don’t. I also lvBut if we’re in a less-great grocery store, we’ll usually just grab canned chickpeas or canned salmon to add protein to our salads—but if you want to be full, protein in the way to go! (Tip: if you’re getting canned options, make sure you have a way to open the can! It’s happened to us before that we forgot a can opener and it’s a huge bummer.)
Good news: With a smashed avocado in there, you can just add a squirt of lime juice and a bit of salt and pepper, then pop the cap back on and shake that salad up. It’s perfect just like that! (Even just salt and pepper with a bit of olive oil will do the trick.)
Obviously, this meal is missing something carb-y, which is easy to remedy on a road trip. We usually skip carb additions at dinners like this simply because road trips are pretty inactive, and during the rest of the day, I’m often snacking away on something that’s more carb-heavy and am ready for a break. But if I did a run and needed to replenish carbs, I’d add something like a hunk of sourdough bread, or pre-made rice, or a handful of tortilla chips. Or I’d add those canned chickpeas along with my protein.
What We Used From Our Food Box:
We always have a salt shaker and I brought lime juice, so we used those plus our knife to chop the chicken and two forks… But this is a great meal because you can get plastic forks and knives anywhere, so you don’t really need any kitchen stuff with you to make this meal work!
This meal for both of us was just under $25, including the full rotisserie chicken—if we’d gone chickpea or canned salmon, it would be even cheaper! For a huge salad for each of us and a healthy dinner option in the middle of an area that did not have a ton of great options. And you can go cheaper if you split a tub of lettuce. (The lowest we’ve done a huge meal for two was $7.)