When you think of a salad, what’s usually the first thing that comes to mind?
Is it just a plain bed of lettuce with a few carrots and some dressing? Something that looks sad and not very filling?
Salads don’t have to be that way! I think most of us can agree that eating healthy is preferable, but can be hard due to lack of time or knowledge. Even if you work full-time, you can still throw together an awesome salad with limited time!
I’ll give you a resource at the bottom of the post to help with the time factor. But here are some tips on how to create the perfect salad, step-by-step:
Start with greens
Lettuce is the standard base for any salad. You have iceberg, romaine, spinach, kale… use one, or a combination of all. I like tearing up some baby spinach leaves and adding them to my romaine.
Add some veggies
This one is where I’m not totally creative (Because I’m usually the only one that eats all these vegetables), but you can choose from so many different veggie varieties. In the picture above, I used tomatoes, bell peppers, and shredded carrots. But you can use more or less of any of the following and then some:
Don’t forget the protein
I think this is where a lot of people go wrong. In their mind, salads are nothing but vegetables, and that just leaves them sad and hungry.
If I’m going to eat a salad, it’s going to be an entree-sized salad, and it will have at least one or two forms of protein.
In the above picture, I used two hard-boiled eggs and some chopped-up deli turkey to make a sort of chef salad. Here are some other protein ideas:
- Ham (Spiral or deli)
- Kidney beans/black beans
- Ground beef (Especially if it’s taco meat!)
Sprinkle some healthy fats
Salads are amazing and healthy; but if you don’t have any kind of fat on it, you’re going to be hungry soon after. Even if your bowl is filled to the brim with veggies.
Honestly, this is where I struggle because in the moment, I can never think of a good fat to add. But here are some ideas:
- Seeds (Sunflower, pumpkin)
- Cheese (My favorite and most obvious)
(Optional) Add some crunch
I think salad is more fun with a crunchy carb! Although I didn’t add any to this salad, here are some things you could add:
- Tortilla chips
- Fritos (I’ve seen a blogger swear by this one!)
Use your favorite dressing
So, I’m not going to tell you to use an oil-based dressing when all you really want is ranch. I’m all about the Hidden Valley!
You have plenty of options, though. Dressings don’t have to all be high-calorie! Here are ones I’ve used:
- Yogurt-based dressings like Bolthouse Farms (35-45 calories per 2 tablespoons)
- Italian/balsamic vinaigrette
- Salsa (Especially good when you mix it with plain Greek yogurt)
Honestly though, if you use a lot of flavorful ingredients like pickles, you can either use less dressing, or none at all. I like my dressing, but it is possible to eat a salad without it!
I hope I’ve inspired you to make non-boring salads! They don’t need to be small, or plain, or nothing but veggies. You can eat a salad every day and not get bored if you mix-and-match ingredients!
And if you’re overwhelmed thinking “There’s no way I can do all this at home. I have no time!”, I can help! Make sure to read my post on How to Meal Prep in One Hour, because this is how I can chop my veggies and prepare most food items for the week.
What do you like to put on your salad? Share in the comments below!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.