Thrifty and Delicious Summer Salads

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There are all sorts of reasons that cold salads have been a summer fixture for many decades, not the least of which is the fact that they’re a very frugal side dish.

I keep these salads in the fridge all summer to add to a meal that has been cooked outside.

Granny’s Slaw

This is a coleslaw that my Granny used to make for my father, who was allergic to eggs. I’ve also adapted this to a home-canned version so we can enjoy it year-round.


  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of whole celery seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (sunflower is a nice light choice)
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar


  • Half a head of cabbage, shredded, or a couple of those little pre-cut bags at the store (purple cabbage makes a beautiful dish)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper, any color


  1. Mix the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Use a food processor to chop the slaw ingredients. Be sure not to puree them – you just want them a grated consistency.
  3. Stir the veggies into the dressing and combine it well.
  4. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. (Overnight is even better.)

Martha-ish Potato Salad

This potato salad recipe is adapted from an old Martha Stewart recipe. (When I first got married, my mother-in-law got me a subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine. I learned to cook using her Cooking 101 recipes and they are still the ones I swear by.)

The trick is to put the vinegar on your potatoes while they’re still hot, so they absorb the tangy flavor.


  • 3 pounds of cubed potatoes
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of white vinegar
  • 3 boiled eggs, chopped
  • ½-1 cup of mayo, depending how creamy you like it
  • 1 teaspoon of dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon of dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Boil potatoes until they are firm yet tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes, then immediately sprinkle them with vinegar and toss them.
  3. Allow the potatoes to cool with the vinegar on them.
  4. Mix the seasonings with the mayo, then stir in the potatoes and egg.
  5. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Ranch Potato Salad

When my daughter was little, she was allergic to eggs. I adapted a potato salad that she could eat using this one brand of bottled ranch dressing which didn’t contain egg. (Sadly, it’s no longer available.)


  • 3 pounds of potatoes, diced
  • ½ cup of your favorite Ranch salad dressing
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons of freeze-dried chives
  • ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 3 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp


  1. Boil potatoes until they are firm yet tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes, then let them cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the ranch and sour cream.
  4. Stir in the cooled potatoes and dried chives.
  5. Top with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.
  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, then stir in the cheese and bacon.

Macaroni Salad

This is an adaptation to a macaroni salad recipe that I got on the back of a box of mayonnaise years ago. I replaced celery with cucumber and made some other minor changes.


  • 2 cups of dry macaroni
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
  • 1 cup of diced cucumber (or thinly sliced celery)
  • 1 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the macaroni until it’s al dente.
  2. Drain and rinse it with cold water until completely cool.
  3. Combine mayo, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in macaroni, cucumber, bell pepper, and onion.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Summer salads are the best

I love these side dishes because you can keep them in the fridge for several days. With the addition of a can of tuna, some of them can become lunch, or you can leave them as-is for a tasty side without heating up the kitchen.

What are your favorite summer salads? Share them in the comments.

Thrifty and Delicious Summer Salads
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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

4 thoughts on “Thrifty and Delicious Summer Salads”

  1. Thank you. These will come in handy with the warmer weather.

    Btw, I have your book, and taking my time going through it. But I love it. Very few “really” frugal living books out there these days. Hope you will continue to write more books.

  2. Is that slaw recipe the one used for canning? I’ve tried to can slaw in the past and the cabbage turned this unappetizing gray that reminded me of Botrytis rot on strawberries. I’d love to try again because I love a good cole slaw!

    1. Yes that’s the one, Jayne – it turned out awesome although not as bright as fresh cabbage coleslaw. I find it looks a lot better if I just use green cabbage and carrots and no purple cabbage for canning.

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