But they definitely don’t have to be. If you know how to build a good one, they’re win/win!
To power you through an entire work day, your salad should be filled with all kinds of non-leafy ingredients. When made correctly, a salad will be flavorful, bright, textured, and — most important — provide you with a sustainable source of energy.
Once your salad is ready, find a well-designed lunch box to make sure it stays crisp until it’s time to eat.
Whatever Tupperware or storage device you decide on, just make sure you have a small, separate container for your salad dressing — that’s really the key to making sure you’re not eating a soggy, wilted mess come lunchtime.
1. Grilled Chicken Salad with Pears and Walnuts
If you don’t have time to grill chicken, you can always buy pre-cooked chicken strips to save time. (Or, let them bake in the oven while you’re prepping the rest of your ingredients.) For the walnuts, toss them in a pan for 5 minutes over high heat, or roast them in the oven at 350°F for 5-10 minutes. The finished result will make your kitchen smell amazing.
4. Tex-Mex Taco Salad
Cook the ground beef the night before with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and maybe some cumin — then spoon the cooled mixture over greens the next morning. If salsa (we used Trader Joe’s chunky salsa here) doesn’t seem viscous enough as salad dressing, try Caesar or another favorite.
5. Chicken, Apple, and Goat Cheese Salad
If you’re vegetarian, you can replace chicken with a hard boiled egg, a half-cup of roasted chickpeas, or even seared tofu. Top it off with any sweet vinaigrette to complete the fruity flavor.
6. Hummus and Feta Salad
Hummus already includes olive oil, but an extra drizzle of it over your salad will bring all the ingredients together.
7. Protein-Packed Grilled Chicken Salad
You can easily make your own herb-based vinaigrette by combining herbs, honey, vinegar, and olive oil in a food processor. Artichoke hearts are more difficult to prepare, so buying them in a can will save time. (If you’ve got some knife skills though, prepping them yourself will yield fresher cuts.)
10. Falafel Salad with Pita Chips and Hummus
Toss all the ingredients together and finish the mixture with a dollop of hummus. Drizzle olive oil over the salad and season with salt to taste. Falafel and pita chips can make this salad a bit heavier, so go lighter on the hummus and dressing if you need to.
11. Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potato Salad
Starchy vegetables like sweet potato (or, alternatively, zucchini, parsnips, and corn) are all flavorful and healthy additions to a salad that won’t leave you feeling hungry an hour after you’re done eating. They’re pretty easy to prep too: simply toss them in olive oil and roast them in a pan the night before.
12. Teriyaki Shrimp Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, and want a ~healthyish~ salad, try this combination of peaches and teriyaki-glazed shrimp. You can prep the shrimp the night before using this easy recipe that uses store-bought sauce. And if peaches aren’t readily available in your area or in-season, you can sub with slices of mango, pineapple, or even a dollop of fruit salsa.
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