5 salads you should prepare, not buy



welcome to thrifty. A weekly column where Jessica Ball, Associate Nutrition Editor and Registered Dietitian, explains how to shop on a budget, cook healthy meals for one or two, and make green choices without rethinking your whole life.

Salad bars are my kryptonite. I’m mesmerized by the organized and colorful containers of vegetables, protein and crispy toppings… and load. No cleaning! So many options! It’s all fun and games until I get to the cash register where my exciting lunch salad is decidedly breaking the bank. As much as I love buying salads at restaurants, they can get overpriced when you put them on the scale. As a low budget dietitian, I try to book a salad to go for special occasions or to treat myself. But that doesn’t mean I don’t eat a bowl of crispy greens on a regular basis. In many cases, you can make equally tasty things at home for a fraction of the cost. Here are five salads you should prepare, not buy.

Related: 6 soups you should make, not buy

1. Caesar salad

The Caesar salad is an icon for a reason. It’s even good at the airport, which is saying a lot. That said, Caesar salads in restaurants and salad bars can be very expensive and loaded with added salt and fat. Instead, make your own so you can customize it with the crunchy, crunchy ingredients you love. My favorite is our best Caesar salad with crispy parmesan. While Parmesan crisps are a bit of extra work, their flavor is worth it. Top it with grilled chicken or salmon to add extra protein and make it a meal. Really, any salad can be a Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing, so feel free to keep it simple too.

2. Tabbouleh Salad

Do you have a big bunch of parsley from the grocery store coming out? Don’t throw it away! Tabbouleh is a healthy and refreshing way to use lots of herbs and increase your intake of vegetables. Plus, when you prepare it at home, you can control the salt content compared to pre-made in-store containers. For something more filling, try our chickpea tabbouleh which gets a protein and fiber boost from legumes.

3. Cereal salad

I’m not much of a meal maker, but I always try to have a container of cereal salad in my fridge. Whether it’s a quinoa salad with feta, olives and tomatoes or a whole grain salad with charred broccoli, spring onions, and parsley and sumac dressing, it works as a quick, filling, and healthy lunch. in a pinch. It helps me increase my intake of whole grains and vegetables during the day without having to cook daily. It also makes a great side dish for puffing up dinner and can even serve as a breakfast with a fried egg on top. Make it yours by adding whole grains, chopped veggies, and dressing together. It’s a great way to use whatever you have on hand, and you can even take it a step further by using it as a garnish on a bed of greenery. Bonus: it gets even better the longer it stays in the fridge (up to a week, that is).

4. Simple green salad

One of the easiest ways to increase your vegetable intake is to add a side salad to your meals. When I’m running out of groceries and inspiration, I have an herb side salad formula that I turn to over and over again. I make about half the volume of my salad with lettuce and the other half with herbs like parsley, cilantro or dill. Then I top it with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, honey and Dijon mustard. Season it with a pinch of salt and pepper, and * voila * the simplest and tastiest salad is ready to go with any meal.

5. Chopped Salad

I love a chopped salad for many reasons: versatility, crunchiness, nutrition and more. Unfortunately, a salad like this that’s loaded with a variety of toppings is one of the more expensive options at the salad bar (mostly for weight reasons). Making your own chopped salad at home can save you money and allow you to use only the ingredients you are passionate about. Our Rainbow Chopped Salad with Basil and Mozzarella is just as delicious to eat as it is to look at, if you want to impress your friends or family. Another of my favorites is our chopped Italian salad, which pairs perfectly with pizza (if I say so myself!).

Final result

Even though I love salad bars, they are so expensive that they are not viable for me to go there often. Instead, I make these salads at home to increase my vegetable intake on a budget and help cut down on food waste. Making your food at home allows you to customize the flavors and have truly delicious leftovers. For more inspiration, check out Eat well Best salad recipes of the past 30 years.

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