When you think of salad, what comes to mind? The dreaded rabbit food or a substantial meal?
My bet is "rabbit food", am I right? That silly leafy situation, like the photo above. A drop of olive oil, a bit of salt and lots of
determination to eat a "healthy" lunch and "be good". But all that is short lived, come 3pm and you're hoping there's cake in the staff room. From there, it's a quick step to then think "Ugh, this salad thing is stupid, eating healthy is too hard, it doesn't work for me".
If this is your situation, I completely understand if you don't want to take salad to work everyday, or why you feel it doesn't deserve the title of a "proper meal". I wouldn't either. The thing is, and excuse me for being so direct, you're doing salad wrong!
Sorry no one told you that before. A nice big salad should be just as sustaining as any other meal.
Here are the main components, with examples and proportions:
1. Veggies -> lettuce, tomato, cucumber. Yes, but also cabbage, carrots, snow peas, Brussels sprouts, capsicum, broccoli, mushrooms, radish, rocket, baby spinach. I bet you didn't know you could eat raw broccoli or that Brussels sprouts have a very mild taste raw. Especially when they are not overcooked, floating in warm water, reminding you of the school canteen. This should be 50% of your salad, not 99. The other half will be comprised of a mix of proteins and fats.
2. Protein -> here's where things start to crumble. A slice of ham is not enough! Neither is a slice of cheese! Add a "dinner" amount of meat to your salad: tinned tuna, leftover meat balls, chicken, boiled eggs, pulled pork, sardines... anything you have handy.
3. Fats -> and then it falls apart some more. A drop of olive oil won't cut it. Think about adding an avocado (when they're not rock hard and $10 each), seeds and nuts, cubes of cheese, olives and/or olive oil.
4. Seasoning -> give the finishing touch with a nice home-made dressing. Olive oil and vinegar is a classic. Add a bit of sour cream or yoghurt for a creamier sauce. Keep this is a separate container or have a jar in the fridge at work. Adding the dressing too early will make your salad soggy, risk spilling all over your laptop and honestly, won't make you any more likely to eat it again.
I have some basic ingredients stored in my cupboard in the office and carry my salad in a waterproof bag, which I use for camping as well.
If you are not used to eating lower carbohydrate meals and still require some carbs at lunch-time, choose a small amount of potatoes, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas or kidney beans to add in.
Have a bash at a pumped up salad and let me know how it goes. I know it's winter, don't get me started on soups! It can lead to the exact same trap.