Packing salads for lunch

I figure I need to start eating more than 0 veggies a day, and I think an enjoyable way for me to do that would be to bring salads to school daily.

I would love it if y’all could give me ideas for salads that could be packed the night before. I’m not looking for anything with meat or high amounts of carbs (so, no croutons or tortilla strips).

So far i have on my list:

Spinach leaves
cherry tomatoes
garbanzo beans
shredded cheese

Any other tips? Anyone successfully incorporated sour cream?
Also any tips for toting salads around would be helpful . . . how do y’all manage the relatively high volume? Do you buy packets of salad dressing or carry the bottle around or daily decant the appropriate amount and carry that with you?

Thanks for all of your help!

There are special plasticware containers out there - I know that one brand that has one is called Fit & Fresh - with a special closed compartment in the lid that holds a tablespoon or two of dressing. Of course, you have to make sure that you clean that out properly, and you may want to get a small cleaning brush (or cheap toothbrush kept at the kitchen sink) for the purpose of scrubbing out that little container.

I don’t remember what veggies have “bad carbs,” but I like sugar snap peas (in the pod) and snow peas as good salad veggies that travel well.

For volume issues, try to stick to thinner lettuces. Avoid iceberg or the thicker ends of romaine leaves, cut out any thick “spine” down the middle of bigger lettuce leaves, etc. Look for “spring mix” if you get prepackaged.

I take a salad to work every day. I make 5 on Monday morning and just grab one every day and stuff it in my lunch bag. I use 100-200 calories of meat (to help me stay full during the day) so you can omit/modify as desired.

I like my protein hot, so I usually pack that separately and microwave it right before serving. I also take the bottle of salad dressing to work with me and use it at the last minute (so I don’t have soggy lettuce). I have a ginormous lunch bag that I got at Target.

**Mediterranean Salad **(I make four of these at a time because the package of veggie burgers and the dressing have 4 servings)

  • Very crisp romaine lettuce
  • Roma tomato - diced
  • Sliced pepperocini
  • Red onion
  • A few sliced kalamata olives
  • Shredded purple cabbage
  • I split a container of Trader Joe’s tzatziki into 4 servings for dressing
  • Dr. Praeger’s tex mex veggie burger (heated and crumbled) on top

BBQ Chicken Salad

  • some kind of green, not picky
  • red onion
  • A little of Trader Joe’s roasted corn (I keep it in the freezer and just nuke the amount I want to put on my salad)
  • A few black beans (if I have some handy, if not, I skip them)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Shredded carrot
  • Sliced avocado (if I have the calories for the day, if not, I skip it)
  • Trader Joe’s Just Chicken slices (I drizzle them with BBQ sauce)
  • A little bit of fat free ranch dressing
  • A few crunchy tortilla strips for the top

Asian Chicken Salad

  • Green/red leaf lettuce
  • Edamame (about a handful per salad)
  • small can of mandarin oranges (split between the 5 salads)
  • small can of sliced water chestnuts (split between the 5 salads)
  • Bag of broccoli slaw (split between the 5 salads)
  • sprinkle of cashew bits and pieces (measured, definitely under a serving per salad)
  • sliced frozen chicken breast from Trader Joe’s (I take it separately and nuke it at the last minute, looove hot chicken on salad)
  • Spicy asian peanut dressing from Trader Joe’s
  • A few crispy wontons added at the last minute for crunch

The Classic

  • Spinach
  • Grilled chicken breast
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup nuts (pepitas or almonds, usually)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Carrot shreddies
  • Red pepper chunks
  • Red onion
  • Annie’s Gingerly Vinaigrette dressing

Pomegranate (like the classic, but with a twist - great for pomegranate season - Jan - spring)

  • red leaf lettuce
  • Grilled chicken breast
  • pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup candied walnuts
  • Carrot shreddies
  • Red onion
  • Fried onion bits (I buy them in the salad dressing section, and measure them!)
  • Trader Joe’s cranberry gorganzola dressing (measured - because it’s just too tasty)

Taco salad (I make this when I have leftover spicy taco filling. Either lean ground beef, turkey or veggie crumbles)

  • romaine
  • Leftover spicy taco filling
  • red onion
  • A little of Trader Joe’s roasted corn (I keep it in the freezer and just nuke the amount I want to put on my salad)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Shredded carrot
  • Shredded red cabbage
  • Salsa
  • A little bit of fat free ranch dressing
  • A few crunchy tortilla strips for the top

I cheat.

I buy a bag of whichever one of those pre-made salads is on sale this week. I use flatbread to make salad roll-ips to bring to work instead of a sandwich. I pour a little lite ranch dressing on the greens before rolling the bread.

I bring a bag of sliced carrots to eat like chips and a piece of fruit for dessert. I also bring a can of seltzer to drink.

Echoing the earlier recommendation that you look into a Fit & Fresh salad carrier. It has a gel-filled ice pack that fits in the top of the bowl and that has several compartments for different toppings, plus a screw-top container for your dressing. Everything stays separate and cold until you’re ready to eat.

Bagged salad is convenient, but a real head of lettuce will taste MUCH better. I promise.

Some of my favorite salad combinations…

Spring mix/leaf lettuce with whole wheat rotini, grape tomatoes, walnuts, and an oil and pressed garlic dressing

Spring mix/leaf lettuce with whole wheat rotini and hard boiled eggs, Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing (the kind you mix up from a packet… best salad dressing ever)

Spring mix/leaf lettuce with radishes, carrots, green onions, and walnuts, dressed with oil and balsamic vinegar

My favorite is simple:
Spinach leaves
Feta Cheese
Raspberry vinaigrette.

I would add to your list of vegetables:
Red/Green pepppers

For dressing I now leave a bottle at work, but when a fridge wasn’t available I would use a smaller container (hotel/room service ketchup bottles are the perfect size!) for the dressing. I’ve never found a salad that you could add dressing to in the morning and still be crisp at lunch.

If you don’t buy a specialized salad carrier, and are worried about food safety, don’t forget nuts and seeds as a protein in your salad: I personally love pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, or peanuts on mine, and veggies + nuts will remain safe to eat even if kept at room temp for a few hours.

As for incorporating sour cream, one of my family’s favorite main dish salads is sort of a taco salad: Veggies, cheese, (whatever leftover taco filling is left from the previous night’s dinner - meat, refried beans, whatever - usually rolled into a tortilla and sliced like a jelly roll, but you can leave off the tortilla of course,) and a dressing made of equal parts fat-free sour cream and salsa.

This is my favorite salad, except the feta is actually gorgonzola.

Broccoli salad. Add craisins, sliced bell pepper and red onions dressed with a light mayo sweetened with honey. Delish and the broccoli stays crunchy. The bell pepper, while a bit soft, tends to hold some crispness.

Here’s my only tip: line the container with a paper towel before you plop the lettuce and other ingredients in it. This will keep the lettuce from getting wilty ™.

Whatever I end up making, I transport by component (greens in one container, moister veg like cucumber and tomatoes in another, crisper things like carrots in a third) and assemble on site. If you’re at school and have to lug your crap all day, this may not be an attractive option. Also, you need a bowl to slosh it all together when you get there.

But thanks for the inspiration. I’m going to go make a greek salad for tomorrow!

Regarding salad dressings: I eat a lot of spinach salad and have learned by trial and error that fat-free raspberry vinaigrette is the best thing on greens since greens began. Even on the occasional Caesar salad, I still use the raspberry.

I keep a bottle of it in my desk drawer at work because it doesn’t need refrigeration.

my current favorite:

goat cheese
slivered almonds

sometimes I add some partially steamed broccoli…has to still have crunch to it

little bit of oil and vinegar and you’re all set. I like spinach salad, but I think it is way better (less bitter?) with some fruit in the salad

Maple Grove Farms? The only complaint I have is that they only seem to come in 8oz jars.