The lovely people over at Most Wanted, the lifestyle magazine from got in touch and challenged me to create some tasty recipes that come in under £5 a portion and less than 500 calories each.  Of course, I was more than up for that challenge, and have developed two wonderful nutrient packed salads perfect for warm summer days…

500 under £5 project

Recipe No 1: Chicken, Quinoa and Soya Bean Salad with Peanut Lime Dressing (serves 2, gluten free)


This is a super protein packed salad which will keep you feeling full and energised!


  • 2 chicken breasts (I used Freedom Food Chicken breasts from Sainsbury’s)
  • 100g of cooked quinoa (about 2/3rds of a cup)
  • 160g of frozen soya beans (about 1 cup)
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 tbsp of smooth peanut butter
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp of tamari or soy sauce (if not gluten free)

Place each chicken breast in a square of foil. Wrap up into a package and bake in the oven at 200c for 20 – 30 minutes until cooked through. Set aside to cool. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions and measure out the soya beans then leave them to thaw. To make the peanut lime dressing, simply combine the peanut butter, tamari and the juice from the lime in a small bowl. Take a vegetable peeler and make ‘ribbon’s’ from the courgette by slicing off strips. Divide the courgette ribbons equally between two plates.  Mix the cooled quinoa and defrosted soya beans together and equally divide between the two plates, on top of the courgette ribbon’s. Then slice the two chicken breasts into pieces and add them to each of the plates. Finally, drizzle over the peanut lime dressing. Dig in!

Calories per serving: 409, carbs: 15g, fat: 12g, protein: 54g, sugar: 2g

Total cost per serving: £3.95



Recipe No 2: Lentil and Feta Salad with Mint, Chilli and Lemon (serves 2, vegetarian, gluten free)


This salad has an interesting combination of flavours and is low calorie, yet satisfying and filling!


  • 1 tin / pack of green lentils (I used Sainsbury’s So Organic)
  • 100g of feta cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 small red chilli
  • 1 small bunch of fresh mint
  • 4 small peppers – I used orange and green (Sainsbury’s basics range)

Pre heat the oven to 220c. Wash, chop and deseed the peppers and lay them out on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes until browned and slightly softened. Set aside to cool. In a bowl crumble the feta and add the juice from the lemon and the finely chopped mint and chilli (leave the seeds in if you like it hot). Drain the lentils and mix with the feta and other ingredients. Once the peppers have cooled, combine with the lentils and feta and divide equally between two plates. Enjoy!

Calories per serving: 258, carbs: 13g, fat: 12g, protein: 14g, sugar: 4g

Cost per serving: £2.57


There you have it, two tasty summer salads, both under 500 calories a serving and costing less than £5 each!

I certainly think it’s easy to eat healthily in the warmer weather and still stick to a budget. Here’s a few tips:

  • Eat lots of seasonal fruit and vegetables – the summer months are full of abundant in season fresh produce, which tend to be fairly cheap and on offer, so make the most of them!
  • If you have a big freezer, when you see fruit on special offer stock up! Strawberries, melon and lots of other fruit can be washed, chopped and frozen to be used in smoothies and even defrosted for using in fruit crumbles in the cooler months.
  • Adding a few berries to salads can also be a great way to make them more interesting flavour wise. My favourite combo is a spinach salad with chickpeas and a few sliced strawberries.
  • Speaking of chickpeas, try out meals using beans and lentils – they make wonderful additions to salads and can be eaten chilled so no cooking needed! They are also cheap and low calorie, so perfect if you are watching your wallet as well as your waist line.
  • Take a look at tinned fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel. All are packed with nutrients, cheaper than their fresh counter parts and can be easily incorporated into salads and other cold dishes.
  • Walk to the shops! When the weather is nice, instead of taking the car why not have a walk instead? You’ll get a bit of exercise, save on petrol money and have a nice vitamin D boost at the same time. Thinking about carrying those heavy shopping bags home, can also make you really consider what it is you actually need, so you spend less on impulse purchases.

What are your favourite ingredients for a summer salad?