Lunches can be hard. They can also be rather sad. If you’re trying to squeeze more veggies in your diet, you may already be in the habit of taking a salad with you to work and trying really hard to enjoy it for lunch. But are you finding that your homemade salads aren’t as good as what you get in a restaurant? Or do they leave you still wanting a bag of chips?
Well, we’ve got a strategy for keeping lunchtime salads satisfying and delicious. It’s all about the formula.
greens + veg/fruit + protein + crunch + dressing
- greens: Anything will do, but the darker green you go the more nutrients you’ll be getting. Use just one type or mix it up for variety (romaine, kale, cabbage, arugula, spinach).
- veg/fruit: This one is pretty obvious. Try to include a variety of color. This isn’t just to make the salad pretty, but different colors actually indicate different nutrients. Use whatever vegetables you like. The ones that are more firm (carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, apples) will hold up well when prepped in advance. Softer vegetables are best prepped in the morning, or right before you eat (cherry tomatoes, avocado, mango).
- protein: Build this into your leftovers strategy by cooking extra chicken/beef/whatever while making dinner. Or just grill up a bunch at the beginning of the week to have on hand. Thinly slice beef, cut pork into bite sized pieces, shred or slice chicken, break salmon into chunks.
- crunch: Maybe you’ve already included some crunchy veggies or fruit, but another layer of crunch never hurts. Try toasted walnuts, chopped almonds, sesame seeds, or toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas).
- dressing: Don’t let anyone fool you, most of the bottled dressings you can purchase in the store are loaded with fillers, sugar, and/or unhealthy oils. (Read the labels and then stop buying the stuff.) If you’re lucky enough to have a bottle of Spoon & Skillet vinaigrette base, you can mix 1 tablespoon of the base with 1 tablespoon of oil to make a quick and delicious vinaigrette. Otherwise, grab a jar and fill 1/4 of the way with whatever kind of vinegar you like. Add a little spoonful of dijon (if you’d like), chopped garlic or shallot (if you’re feeling fancy), a squeeze of honey (if you like it sweet) and a pinch of salt & pepper. Pour an equal amount of olive oil into the jar. Shake, taste, and continue to add olive oil to your desired taste. We like a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to oil…but many prefer a 1:2 ratio…and it can vary depending on the type of vinegar.
Here are some of our favorite combos:
- romaine & kale // diced apples & shredded carrot // chicken // pecans // balsamic vinaigrette
- shredded cabbage & arugula // diced peppers & mango // salmon // sesame seeds // rice wine vinaigrette
- spinach // radishes, cherry tomatoes & onion // sliced steak // pepitas // honey mustard vinaigrette