Healthy Lunch Ideas: Home Salad Bar

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.

A 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 calories)

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.

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 don’t forget my salad, silly.

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.

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.

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 every day

  • Plain oatmeal for breakfast (we buy the giant tub of instant oatmeal)
  • Berries for a 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 croutons
  • 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)


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?

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