You don't have to overspend to make a light, bright spring meal. This scallion herb chickpea salad is versatile, satiating and cuts down on food costs.
Beth Moncel, founder of the site BudgetBytes, shared some tips and tricks to save money on meal planning as well as a recipe for a delicious and easy plant-based salad that's a great lunch, snack or side.
"One of my favorite hacks for keeping costs down is to build my meals around inexpensive staples, and that doesn't mean just rice, pasta and beans. A lot of simple fresh vegetables are also super inexpensive," she explained. "Work more of these ingredients into meals to make your meals more budget-friendly and healthy at the same time."
For this recipe, she utilizes canned chickpeas and turns them into the star of the dish.
"I love working beans into my meat to help bring the cost of my meals down and work in a little extra fiber," Moncel said. "Adding a can of black beans or some cooked lentils to ground beef, or adding a can of white beans to chicken-based dishes is a great way to work those inexpensive pantry staples into your meal."
"My favorite budget foods are recipes that are simple and flexible, which is super important right now with unreliable supply chains. Recipes like stir-fries, bowl meals and pizza are always fast and easy, plus they can take just about any ingredient you have available," she recommended. "So I always try to work those into my meal plan."
Moncel's top tips to approach meal planning
1. Start small so you don't get overwhelmed and you can tailor your approach to your lifestyle. Everyone's approach will be different depending on your schedule and the types of foods you like to eat. So just start by planning one recipe the first week and slowly increase the number of recipes each week until you find the recipes and schedule that work for you.
2. Plan your recipes based on what you have in your kitchen that needs to be used up and what is on sale that week at the grocery store.
3. Always, always, ALWAYS, check your pantry, fridge, and freezer before going to the store so you don't purchase anything you already have and so that you don't accidentally derail your plan by forgetting to buy something you're out of.
Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad
"It's a super easy way to dress up canned chickpeas, it's no-cook and is always a hit," Beth told "GMA."
2 avocado $0.79
1 cup Greek yogurt $0.44
2 tsp lemon juice $0.04
0.5 tsp salt $0.02
0.5 cup chopped fresh parsley $0.25
0.5 cup chopped fresh cilantro $0.20
0.5 cup sliced scallions (about two) $0.23
2 15oz. can chickpeas $0.49
Place the avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, parsley, cilantro and scallions in a bowl. Mash the ingredients together until combined. It's okay if the avocado is a bit chunky still.
Drain the can of chickpeas, then add them to the bowl with the avocado dressing. Stir and mash the chickpeas into the dressing. Taste the salad and add salt if needed.
Serve the salad over a bed of greens, between two slices of bread, in a pita or wrapped in a tortilla.
Editor's note: This was originally published on April 26, 2022.