Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On-the-Go Lunch Salad

I've kind of debated about doing a "recipe" with this, since it's more of a set of ideas than a real recipe. But since about 50% of my lunches for probably the last 5 years consist of this salad (which I recently saw a variation of in a cookbook - they called it the "Hugh Jass" salad ... say it out loud!), I figured it was probably worth sharing...

As a working mom for several years I was always rushing to get myself ready and out the door, and did not have much time to prep a decently nutritious lunch. I didn't like to rely on eating out for lunch (both for cost and nutrition reasons), nor could I bring myself to eat uber-processed frozen meals. I discovered that I could quickly prep this salad either the night before or in the morning by putting everything but the dressing in a medium-sized (about 1 quart) ziploc container. Then I'd tote it and a bottle of dressing in my lunch bag to work, and at lunchtime all I had to do was pour a little dressing on, give the container a good shake, and I had a nutritious and filling lunch salad in less time than it took my coworkers to peel the cellophane off the top of their frozen entree!

Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, my lunch salad has not fallen by the wayside. I find that I am still turning to it frequently for those days that I'm packing lunch for an outing with the kids or just need to fit something in quick so that I can get the kids down for nap time. Now the alternative I'm avoiding is daily repetitions of peanut butter and jelly, but the idea is the same. This gives me a quick, easy, and portable lunch that I can feel good about!

This "recipe" is constantly changing, with new combinations on a daily basis. I'm always looking for good ideas to liven things up ... Let me know what your favorite salad toppings are by leaving a comment!

On-the-Go Lunch Salad
PREP: 5 minutes           COOK: 0 minutes            READY IN: 5 minutes

  SIMPLE         HEALTHY      YUM
pic name       pic name      pic name


  1. Greens (2-3 cups) - this is the base of your salad, and is going to give you a ton of great nutrients. The more green, the better! 
    • Spinach - This is my go-to, mostly because it's so darn healthy and because it's easy to buy and store. 
    • Kale or other Mixed Greens also work great.
    • Other bite-size vegetables are good to throw in, if you have them on hand: 
      • frozen peas
      • broccoli spears
      • cauliflower florets
      • baby carrots
      • grape tomatoes
      • cooked squash cubes (If I have some cubes of butternut squash sitting around with nothing to do, these are awesome to throw in!)
  2. Protein (about 1/3 cup) - you'll need some sort of protein for the salad to be filling and give you energy through the afternoon.
    • Canned beans (super convenient!): Red (kidney) beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, white/cannellini beans - anything really works
    • Canned tuna or chicken
    • Cooked lentils
    • If I have leftovers of something, such as cooked falafels or cooked meat (i.e. rotisserie chicken) that can be cut up, I'll sometimes throw that in. 
  3. Salty something (1-2 tablespoons) - this is mostly for flavor.
    • Crumbled Feta - my absolute fav!
    • ..... ummm, I like feta so much I really don't have many other good ideas here!
  4. Sweet something (1-2 tablespoons)- again, this is mostly for flavor, as well as some nutritional value.
    • Diced apple 
    • Dried cranberries or raisins
  5. Crunchy something - I find that this isn't essential, but adds some nice texture. Plus, if you choose well, you can fit in some more protein here.
    • Nut pieces (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds ... any nuts work pretty well)
  6. Dressing (2 tablespoons) - I like light store-bought dressings because of their convenience and the great variety of flavors to match what I'm in the mood for. The ones I typically rotate between are Balsamic Vinaigrette (or other similar vinaigrettes) and Sesame Ginger (or similar Asian-style).


  1. Combine your desired ingredients (except the dressing) in a portable container with a tight lid. 
  2. When ready to eat pour on 2 tablespoons of dressing, cover and shake vigorously. 
  3. Enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS (calculated using my most common combo: spinach, kidney beans, feta, craisins, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette)

    3 cup serving    259 calories   11.8 g fat   27.1 g carbs    12.7 g protein    7.0 g sugar

1 comment:

Heather Webb said...

This is our basic go-to recipe as well for lunch OR dinner! The flavors and textures really combine deliciously.


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