A salad is way more than lettuce and salad dressing. If you do it right, it can be an awesome, nourishing meal that provides sustainable energy to get you through your afternoon. And I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you succeed when it comes to packing the perfect salad!
How does this all work? It’s as simple as following these steps. But first, so advice on planning.
Before you get started, it’s important to do a little bit of planning. So here are some of my planning tips!
Make some of your favorite grains, think quinoa, bulgur, rice, etc, ahead of time (when you have time) and freeze them. That way they’re ready for putting on your salad whenever you need them. Have canned beans on hand. And speaking of canned foods, why not add some canned tuna and salmon to your pantry too? Next up, nuts and seeds. Hit your bulk section and pick up some sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, etc. Finally, prep your fridge by purchasing eggs, yogurt and of course, all of the veggies that you can fit in there (that you’ll use!).
One more tip: Find a re-usable salad container that you like. The best ones have at least 2 or 3 compartments, including a container for your salad dressing. The compartments are ideal for things that are perhaps dry and you don’t want them to be soggy by lunchtime.
Step 1: Pick a theme – Not always necessary, but if you’re going an Asian route, you may not want to use an Italian vinaigrette. Use that theme as an inspiration to build a yummy, nourishing salad.
Step 2: Start with a good base – That means about 2 cups of lettuce on the bottom.
Step 3: Add veggies – Top that lettuce with shredded carrot, shredded cabbage, sliced veggies such as celery, bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, etc and whole veggies like cherry tomatoes. Go with what you love, but also try something new too. Fennel is delicious when sliced thin and you might even enjoy florets of broccoli and cauliflower.
Step 4: Add crunch – This is the fun part! The crunchy stuff is sometimes the most delicious. You can choose something as simple as nuts or seeds, or go crazy and add tortilla chips, homemade croutons (they’re easy!), roasted chickpeas, or even cereal!
Step 5: Add protein – Consider adding some canned tuna or salmon. Hard-boiled eggs work great and so do beans! Any leftover protein works here too – last night’s chicken or grilled flank steak are yummy additions.
Step 6: Add a whole grain – Throw in some of that cooked quinoa or rice. Whole grains are a great carbohydrate source and a great way to get additional fiber.
Step 7: (optional) Add fruit – That’s right. Fruit is a great addition to salad. Think sliced apples, pears or even cubed mango or melon. Dried fruit is also another great option. Just be sure to pick the unsweetened variety. And hey, avocado is a fruit, just saying!
Step 8: Pick a Dressing. It’s always awesome to make your own. But if you don’t have the time or desire, there are plenty of good ones out there. Stick with vinaigrettes and opt for ones that don’t have a lot of added sugar. Yogurt-based dressings are also awesome and can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. And get this, hummus makes an excellent salad dressing. Just thin it with a little water first!
Step 1: Asian-inspired
Step 2: Base of baby spinach and mixed lettuce.
Step 3: Add 1-2 cups shredded cabbage and carrots
Step 4: Add sesame seeds, sliced almonds and a tablespoon or two of crispy noodles
Step 5: Add 1 can drained salmon
Step 6: Add ¼ cup cooked, brown rice
Step 7: Add mandarin oranges (fresh or canned)
Step 8: Make a citrus vinaigrette! Place some orange juice, lite soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) and sesame oil in your dressing container. Shake and enjoy!