eating on a budget: the chicken salad sandwich story

chicken salad sandwich

 jump to the recipe

chicken salad sandwich recipe

I hate budgets. I do. Even the word, budget. Boo!

I have this idea that being on a budget is restrictive and limiting. It brings me back to childhood images of powdered milk and cutting up dryer sheets to make them last longer.

But the fact is budgets are crucial to staying in control of your finances, rather than having your finances control you. And the idea of being in control? That, I like.

creating meals on a budget chicken salad sandwich recipe

The summer months require a tightening of the purse strings as my students in France take a luxurious (to me) and totally merited (to them) month off of work, leaving me without students as half are gone in July and the other half in August.

With a view to embracing the needed adjustment, I set about creating… a budget. Something realistic, and something in writing.

chicken salad sandwich recipe

Making our budget work for us means walking to several shops, finding the best deals rather than one convenient run to the supermarket. It means making meals stretch beyond the obvious use. And it means speaking about the budget daily as a couple, celebrating the victory of sticking to it.

Which brings us to the chicken salad sandwich. It’s the kind of thing I would usually dismiss as a boring potluck contribution, but on a budget, it’s a darn fine sandwich! Especially when it came from one simple chicken. A chicken which yielded a pasta dish, a barbeque chicken pizza, a hearty soup, plenty of chicken salad sandwiches, and finally a broth.

Saving pennies can come down to simple changes, like preparing lunches rather than relying on easy fast-food restaurants. So having some ready-made chicken salad in the fridge to pile into a sandwich was a good solution. Especially when I knew it was packed full of flavor!

This recipe was not based on going out for specific ingredients. Other than the chicken, everything else was already in the fridge or pantry. But that does not mean it isn’t fabulous! Trust me, I’m a chicken salad sandwich convert, and a budget believer.

delicious chicken salad sandwich on a budget

chicken salad sandwich recipe

1/2 whole chicken, roasted and shredded
1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large green onion, sliced
1 long red chili pepper, seeded and chopped
handful of fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup aioli
1/4 cup cream cheese at room temperature
1 tbs capers, finely chopped
1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
juice of half a lime
cracked black pepper, to taste

To make the dressing, combine aioli with cream cheese. If you find that lumps are difficult to smooth, you can use a hand mixer to smooth it out. Add the capers, paprika, lime juice and pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, green pepper, green onion, red chili and cilantro. To that, add dressing and stir to combine.

Place lettuce leaves onto buns and pile chicken salad on top.

classic chicken salad sandwich recipe

Bite. Chew. Swallow. Enjoy. On a budget!

posted in pub fare, tea party, the main event, Uncategorized .

33 Responses to eating on a budget: the chicken salad sandwich story

  1. I like your attitude my friend – why get angry at the budget when you can twist it to your advantage?
    A beautiful looking burger, nice job!

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Emma says:

    Psssst: I love budgets.

    Sorry, I shouldn’t have admitted that here. But I do. Although I’ll admit, talking things over as a couple is a bit less fun.

    Don’t dismiss the chicken salad ever again! It is delightful – and that’s saying a bit, since I don’t really like chicken:)

    • kale says:

      I only hate the budget in theory. (Odd since most people love the theory and hate the reality!) When it works (aka when I stick to it) …well, truth be told I love it. I know how important budgets are, and when I am making it work, I feel really good about it! And I promise, I won’t dismiss the chicken salad ever again!

  3. donna picard says:

    Hey, this looks delicious, lovely and light for a hot summer day. We eat a lot of chicken and I forgot how tasty chicken salad can be when it is “taken to a new level”. I too cut up dryer sheets to avoid too much product and you are right it does save money. Don’t suppose you are using dryer sheets in Quito these days….again thanks look forward to each new dish and story especially.

    • kale says:

      Haha nope, laundry by hand does not require too many dryer sheets. My clothes are so stretched out at this point I need to eat copious amounts of chicken salad just to fit into them!

  4. What a great food story … Happy Weekend 🙂

  5. This looks very delicious! If all the budget meals could have looked this good, then I am happy.
    Have a great weekend!

  6. Chili pepper? Cilantro? Cream cheese? This looks like possibly the best chicken salad sandwich ever.

    Also, I don’t know how to make a budget. So I just don’t. 😉

  7. The cost of living over here is getting higher and higher, thus I look out for bargains and of course, into my fridge and pantry for ingredients, as not to waste.

    Lovely chicken salad and I probably will make this when I have the leftover roast chicken, again not to waste.

  8. We’ll be on a budget next month too for sure. My son is getting married next week, and money is flowing out the door like crazy. Your post is perfect timing to inspire me to get a budget going as well. I love the ingredients in your chicken salad. I too buy whole chickens and get several meals from them. It’s perfect for those of us on a budget. 🙂

  9. Liz says:

    I remember clearly those days of being on a strict budget. But now with #3 going off to college, we can finally ease up a bit (though Kristi just reminded me that weddings may be in our future…yikes). But I’m still a bargain shopper, so that will never change 🙂

    Your chicken salad sounds amazing…I love the idea of mixing aioli and cream cheese…yum!

  10. kale says:

    I’m not a huge mayonnaise fan, so I always need to add some flavor and the cream cheese, well cream cheese is just so delicious!
    It’s great you are a bargain shopper, it’s a habit that will always serve you well!

  11. Miriam Roy says:


    and not to monty python you but
    cut up your dryer sheets, you were licks we didn’t even have dryer sheets OR fabric softener just laundry soap and a full clothesline lineups on every sunny day. even in winter!

  12. Miriam Roy says:


    and not to monty python you but
    cut up your dryer sheets, you were lucky!! we didn’t even have dryer sheets OR fabric softener just laundry soap and a full clothesline lineups on every sunny day. even in winter!

  13. love2dine says:

    thanks for the recipe i am going to make that for my lunch.

  14. Although knowledge tells me that budgets are important, I know I’ll be the rebellious kid i secretly am and try to fend off any form of discipline. Such a responsible adult ;D

  15. Eftychia says:

    I hate budgets too, but actually I hate them when they have to do with clothes shopping :-)! BTW nice dish!

  16. Kristina says:

    budget should be a four letter word.

    But totally tolerable if I get to have some of this chicken salad 🙂 I”m a big fan of buying rotisserie chicken and seeing how many days I can make it last…I swear you can do a million things with it!

    Love this recipe, totally inspired for tonight now 🙂

  17. I get a sense of achievement from having a budget. I distribute my pay cheque as soon as I get it! I used to make a similar roll to this with a girl I worked with except ours were salad and peanut butter. weird.. i know. But seriously amazing.

  18. We stick to a very strict budget in our household, and it is more freeing than anything. We always know how much we have to spend and then we can save up for extras. Way to take control!! You go girl. This sandwich looks amazing, but I am always game for a fresh delicious sammie. Yum!

    • kale says:

      thanks Maggie! you’re right, setting limits can be the key to freeing oneself. sounds contradictory, but it works!

  19. I used to be unable to say the word budget (ok I’m being overly dramatic) but we all need them, especially when you have a mortgage. What a delicious result from budgeting! 😉

  20. Kim Bee says:

    I cut my s.o.s. pads in half. It’s sad. Lol.

    Love this sandwich. It looks so delish.

  21. Brittany says:

    I must say I can agree with you about the word budget sounding “restricting.” However, I am a sucker for good deal, for saving money, for being downright frugal! I love the simplicity yet delicacy of your chicken salad sandwich! Budget on my friend..!

  22. kyleen says:

    This chicken salad sandwich definitely doesn’t look like a budget food. It looks pretty darn amazing on my computer screen. Yumm (:

    • kale says:

      At the beginning of a new budget there’s the advantage of everything left over in the fridge from before the penny pinching. Lately it’s been a lot of corn and potatoes (which I won’t subject your screen to!) hehe… Thanks Kyleen!

  23. Kale, this chicken salad sandwich looks so good. I love the addition of fresh peppers and capers. Sounds like a winner! You wouldn’t even know that this was a “budget” chicken salad sandwich if you hadn’t told us. It looks exquisite and expensive.

  24. Shirley says:

    This is absolutely the best chicken salad sandwich ever. I’ve made it several times in the last few weeks. I’m hooked!!

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