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Evolved Mommy | September 23, 2014

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Healthy Lunch Ideas: home salad bar - Evolved Mommy

Healthy Lunch Ideas: home salad bar
Stephanie McCratic

How to make a salad bar at home

This year may go down in history as the first year of my life that I lost weight over the Christmas holiday (and it wasn’t illness related). I have legitimately lost 10 lbs since mid-December, and believe me I indulged in just as many goodies as you did. The difference, I believe, is my lunch; specifically my made-at-home, packed-with-flavor-and-nutrients salad.

Home-Salad-Bar-1A Facebook post by my friend Jonathan got me thinking. He shared a picture of his gigantic, and quite delicious-looking salad from the cafeteria where he works.

“How nice for him,” I thought, to have a salad bar at work. But I don’t have that option, so how could I make something like this work for me? Building a salad is a pain and when I’m hungry at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the last thing I want to do is cut up produce and assemble a healthy salad.

What if I faked it by prepping a few key items to keep in my fridge so that it wasn’t such a chore every single day?

Since it was grocery day anyway I added a few salad-y items to my list and headed out.

Home salad bar grocery list:

  • Baby Spinach (2 c. = 26 calories)
  • Butter lettuce (because I like a little crunch lettuce) (1/2 c. = 2 calories)
  • Grape tomatoes (1/2 c. = 54 calories)
  • Red onion (1 tbsp. = 6.4 calories)
  • Mushrooms¬†(1/4 c. = 3 calories)
  • Colorful peppers (1/4 c. = 7.5 calories)
  • Cauliflower (1/4 c. = 6.2 calories)
  • Broccoli 1/4 c. = 7.5 calories)
  • Eggs or chicken (2 hardboiled eggs = 150 calores)
  • TOTAL CALORIES = 263

When I got home I got out all of my 1-cup food storage containers and started thinking, “How would Jason’s Deli” do this? First, I know: cut up my produce as small as possible so that I can get as many different flavors on my fork at one time as possible.

Home salad bar prep

 

Once everything is washed and chopped I store it on a designated shelf in the fridge, and just before bed every night I pull everything from that shelf, assemble my salad for work the next day, put it in my lunch bag, put the lunch bag in the fridge and put my car keys on top of that.

What? Why the car keys? So I dont forget my salad, silly.

 

Hardboiled eggs prepped for home salad bar

Hardboiled eggs are my favorite way to add protein to my salad. And according to Bob Harper’s “Skinny Rules” you can either eat protein at every meal or stay hungry and grumpy.

pinterest-salad-bar-fridge

A key to keeping this simple is designating a shelf or section of your fridge for salad items. This way you’re not wasting time and energy trying to remember exactly what to get out.
Eating salad at work

home salad bar salad at work

Shortly after I started this home salad system I set a running goal for January (because you know… New Years and stuff) that I would run 90 miles in one month. And I did.

That last week of January my coworkers starting saying awesome things like,

“Can I ask a personal question? How much weight have you lost?”

And my favorite: “Have you been slimming?”

Some might find these comments intrusive, but not me. I love them. I love that my hard work is paying off and that I’m enjoying the process. Admittedly, I can’t see the results in the mirror yet. That’s the disease of being a woman obsessed with weight. But I appreciate that others are noticing.

What I eat everyday

  • Plain oatmeal for breakfast (we buy the giant tub of instant oatmeal)
  • Berries for snack (fresh blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries)
  • Salad for lunch
  • Apple for snack
  • Normal dinner (pizza, lasagna, occasionally something healthy, steak with roasted root veggies, taco salad, pot roast… normal stuff)

Keys to a delicious and “slimming” lunch salad

  • Lots of veggies
  • Variety of flavors
  • Protein (2 eggs or 3 oz of grilled chicken)
  • No cheese or crutons
  • No dressing
  • Salt & pepper
  • THE MOST IMPORTANT PART FOR ME: Prep on Sunday, Pack the night before
  • A giant thermal lunch bag (healthy food is huge)

****ENTER A GIVEAWAY FOR THE PERFECT LUNCH BAG****

The benefits of this method are more than just weight loss. I’ve simplified my day, gained mental clarity and energy, become a better role model for my daughter and saved a lot of money. Produce isn’t cheap, but neither is eating out for lunch.

I want to know: Do you eat salads? Do you hate salads? How do you keep your weight under control? Do you keep your weight under control?¬†What’s your go-to health tip?

Comments

  1. Hello! I just came across your story on making a home salad bar. I have developed a food storage and serving system called the Prepster ™ which is actually an “anything bar” Please take a look at my website http://www.LuckyStarLLC.com and be sure to click the You Tube link at bottom to take you to all the videos. This is not on the market yet but I am working on getting it licensed by an “As Seen on TV” seller. Its also on pinterest. I would love to hear your feedback!
    Sincerely, Susan Kocsis 707 888-7899

    • evolvedmommy

      Hey Susan, What an interesting product. When will it hit the market?

      • I wish I could tell you but I honestly don’t know, I am working with some licensing pros now so I am hoping for things to move faster. I know it is not possible in less than 6 months but that would be about the minimum it would take to manufacture and have stock to ship. Please sign up for updates on my website, Facebook and You Tube. And please pin, share and like if you are so inclined! Thanks for your interest, great website and blog!

  2. Loved reading this post, thanks for sharing. We love salads in this house but if we don’t keep the fresh produce in the fridge, we can easily reach for the carbs. I love artichoke hearts. Put them in all my salads & the oil makes for a delicious dressing. I keep my weight under control by running a lot.

    • evolvedmommy

      I have never thought about adding artichoke hearts. Great tip!

  3. I model my salads after “The Green Bean” in Rogers. Seriously, I have counted as many as 21 ingredients in that thing and Dennis and I still aren’t getting over 19! I predict a salad-off in our future.

  4. Let me also add that I’ve DEFINITELY noticed your weight loss. But I love you regardless of size and wouldn’t want you to think that I actually notice that kind of thing because I don’t. You have to have changed significantly for me to have noticed a difference.

  5. I completely love this idea and you’ve inspired me. It’s just ridiculous how logical it is to make ahead salads and to even make your own salad bar at home.

  6. I LOVE salads, but I can never keep the supplies fresh enough to last all week, so by wednesday, I have a sad salad and not enough time to cut more. How are you keeping it fresh?

    • evolvedmommy

      I don’t know what I’m doing differently. Maybe I keep my fridge colder?

  7. I love this post Stephanie! GO YOU!
    I’m a lifetime Weight Watchers member. Here are my favorite two tips:
    1. I try to eat frequently– 5-6 snacks/meals per day. This follows along with eating something before I get desperately hungry, and helps me make far better food choices then waiting til I’m starved!
    2. I like to eat a large amount of food. I bulk up my portions with “free” foods or very low calorie foods.
    ie. to any homemade casserole, or pasta dish, frozen lean cuisine, or
    soup? I add handfuls of baby spinach to my portion–so I can eat more and get extra nutrition on top of it.
    If a recipes calls for 1/2 cup of chopped onions ? Add two cups! Seriously , a bunch of extra yellow onions in a recipe will not affect adversely affect the flavor –you just get much more food with negligible extra calories. Another favorite bulk- up add in? Water chestnuts. They pack a yummy crunch and volume for only 40 calories per half cup.

    • evolvedmommy

      I never would’ve thought to increase the amount of onions in a recipe. Genius!

  8. Good for you! My problem is that I don’t like a whole lot of different veggies. I guess I’m a picky eater….I’d really like to do better. I like the idea, and I’m already used to packing a lunch. I could probably make some modified version of your idea work for me.

  9. Love this. I’ve been doing salads for lunch too. And you know my breakfast: GREEN SMOOTHIE :)

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