Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Salad Starter

I'll use 5 matching sized Rubbermaid containers to make lunch sized salads for the week.  Note: this is an important piece, especially if your storage container cabinet looks anything like mine - mismatched sizes, non-matching lids, and a *very* likely chance that 30 of them will spill onto the floor anytime you open the door.

So I've made my "starter" containers a priority by purchasing ones that are the perfect size, and I use them only for salads.

On Sundays I'll take 15 minutes and prep 5 salad starters. 

STEP 1. A starter consists of a base of spinach or spring mix (but really any dark greens you like will work), chopped veggies that will keep such as carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, etc.  Add the greens and preferred veggies to individual containers.  Put the lids on and stack in the refrigerator ready to go.  

Note: Avoid cucumbers which could get slimy, and tomatoes which shouldn't be refrigerated.  If you want to add tomatoes to your salad consider buying grape tomatoes which you can just grab and throw on top and do it in STEP 2.

STEP 2: Mix and Match Salads ready in less than 2 minutes.  Do this step in the morning each day.

Take 1 Salad Starter and add the following:
·  Lean protein: Pick 1.  1/2 cup beans (any kind), 4 oz Grilled Chicken or any Grilled Fish, Canned Tuna, Canned Salmon, 1 Veggie Burger (cooked and chopped)
·  Interesting toppings of your choice: Pick no more than 2. - 1 oz cheese such as Crumbled Feta or Blue cheese, 1/2 oz raw nuts, 2 Tbsp dried fruit, 1/2 piece of fresh fruit (sliced or chopped), 1/4 sliced avocado.
·  2 Tbsp Salad Dressing of your choice.

Put the lid on the container and you're out the door.  Or if you don't want to add the salad dressing to the salad until you're ready to eat, pick up small Rubbermaid containers that you can use to hold the perfect portion of dressing.  

Why this works:

1.  The base of the salad and the time consuming chopping is already done.

2.  The starter allows for creativity and variation depending on your mood.  Want Feta cheese and sliced almonds one day but Blue Cheese and sliced pear the next?  Mix it up!  Now no more complaints of eating the same thing day in and out.

3.  And the starter will come in handy at other times as well.  If you happen to have lunch plans on a particular day, use the starter as a side salad for dinner.  It leaves NO EXCUSES!  

Brian Calkins
NSCA-CPT, ACE

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