You may have thought in the past: well, I don't want to spend the energy, time, and money creating a salad when I'm going to be hungry and need more food 20 minutes later.
I hear you 100%! Which is why my lunch & dinner formula works perfectly for salads.
Here's my go-to formula for lunches & dinners
2 cups non-starchy vegetables (about 50 calories)
1 "regular" serving of protein (about 120 calories)
100-200 calories of fats
Here are some EASY ways to put this formula to use in a salad!
Step 1: 2 CUPS NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES (ABOUT 50 CALORIES)
Before we move on - 1 note about veggies in salads. I will say that 2 cups of greens = 1 cup of veggies because there's so much air in there. Therefore, for salads, it's really 3 cups of veggies, because you have the 2 cups of greens, and then you have 1 cup of additional vegetables.
For the base, choose 2 cups of any green you like - mixed greens, romaine, butter lettuce, arugula, etc. Change it up week to week so you get a variety of benefits, but other than that, choose what you like!
Now, add 1 more cup of non-starchy veggies. The good news is that for many veggies, just choose 1 veggie and chop it up - that's about a cup! No more "half a tomato here, half a bell pepper there". Come on, who has time for that??
Here are some ideas, but the world is your oyster!
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Step 2: 1 "REGULAR" SERVING OF PROTEIN (ABOUT 150 CALORIES)
1 can tuna
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in halves or quarters
1 grilled or baked chicken breast
4oz grilled or baked steak
1 tofu "steak"
1 4oz grilled or baked salmon filet (or other fish)
4oz ground, stir-fried beef or turkey
If you're cooking, I generally recommend cooking with an oil spray instead of using oil, because eating the fat is typically more filling and satisfying than having it in more of a liquid form.
I will also say that it is 100% ok to buy pre-cooked foods like chicken strips. Make it EASY for you to succeed with your goals.
Step 3: 100-200 CALORIES OF FATS
1/8-1/4 cup nuts
1/3 cup shredded cheese (like cheddar, mozzarella, etc.)
1/3 cup cheese crumbles (like blue cheese, feta, etc.)
1 single-serving packet guacamole
1/3 cup bacon bits (or about 3 bacon strips)
2 Tbsp oil-based dressing
Step 4: SALAD DRESSING: Choose low calorie when you can
For salad dressing, my general rule of thumb is to choose one with less than 50 calories per 2 Tablespoons. This way, you still get the salad dressing taste, but you're not wasting hundreds of calories. Here's my article on my favorites from Trader Joe's, but you can find low calorie salad dressings anywhere.
If you want to make your own, put the ingredients in an app like Lose It in a recipe, and see how much a serving would be (how many Tablespoons).
If you want to stick with oil & vinegar, this is of course fine, but either count the oil as the fat in your salad, or just use a little bit of oil, and much more of the vinegar.