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Author Jessica White
Jessica White Writer
Updated on Jul 12th, 2024
Fact checked by Valentina Meneghini

How to Eat More Salads (and Love It) in 2024

image of a salad in a bowl surrounded by ingredients

Salads don't have to be boring. If the mere mention of salad at dinner elicits eye-rolls in your household, you're not alone. Many people still think of salads as little more than a wilted bowl of leaves. However, salads offer endless possibilities beyond the standard lettuce and dressing combo.

There’s a vast array of ingredients and flavors that can transform a simple salad into a delightful meal. From vibrant vegetables to hearty grains and protein-packed additions, the options are limitless. Salads can be a satisfying and exciting part of creating nutritious meals when you know how to make them right.

I’ve got practical tips to make salads fun, easy, and healthy. Whether you want to save time, try new things, or simply enjoy your meals more, these strategies will help you incorporate more salads into your diet without feeling like you're missing out.

With a little know-how, salads are among the best easy recipes to make for your family. Learn how to balance flavors, textures, and nutrients to create salads that everyone will love. Get ready to change the way you think about salads and enjoy the benefits of eating more greens.

Easy Salad Ideas🥗

Build the Perfect Salad Bowl 

Creating a satisfying and nutritious salad bowl is all about combining the right ingredients. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you assemble the perfect salad:

  1. Start with leafy greens: Choose a base of fresh greens like spinach, kale, arugula, or mixed salad greens.

  2. Add a grain: Incorporate grains like quinoa, brown rice, farro, or barley for added texture and heartiness.

  3. Include a protein source: Pick a protein to make your salad more filling. Options include grilled chicken, ham, boiled eggs, fish, beans, or tofu.

  4. Pile on colorful veggies: Add a variety of vegetables for flavor and nutrition such as tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, or corn.

  5. Top with crunchy elements: Sprinkle on nuts or seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds.

  6. Add tasty toppings: Enhance your salad with flavorful additions such as cheese, hummus, pickles, berries, or citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruits.

  7. Finish with a delicious dressing: Choose or make a dressing that complements your salad ingredients. Olive oil-based dressings, vinaigrettes, or creamy tahini dressings are great options.

Have fun trying out different ingredient combinations. Even if they sound strange at first, like feta and strawberries, you never know what your new favorite will be.

Dress It Up

A multi-colored salad in a bowl alongside a dish of homemade vinaigrette

It’s surprisingly simple to create your own salad dressings at home. Here are some easy and delicious dressing recipes to try. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences.

1. Classic Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Olive oil

  • Fresh lemon juice

  • Honey

  • Salt and pepper

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and honey until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over your salad and toss to coat.

2. Green Pesto Dressing

  • Green pesto

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon juice

Mix green pesto, olive oil, and lemon juice until smooth. Adjust thickness by adding more olive oil if needed. Pour over your salad and enjoy the rich, herby flavor.

3. Classic Vinaigrette

  • Olive oil

  • Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, or apple cider)

  • Sugar

  • Dijon mustard

  • Mixed dried herbs (such as oregano, basil, or thyme)

  • Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and whisk until emulsified. Shake the ingredients in a jar to get it mixed up. Adjust seasoning to taste. Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to a week.

4. Honey Mustard Dressing

  • Olive oil

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Dijon mustard

  • Honey

  • Salt and pepper

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over your salad and mix well.

Top Off Your Salad

Adding the right toppings can take your salad from good to great. Here are some delicious and nutritious topping ideas to enhance your salad:

  • Canned fish: Tuna, salmon, or sardines add protein and healthy fats.

  • Eggs: Hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled eggs provide a rich source of protein.

  • Croutons: Add a satisfying crunch with homemade or store-bought croutons.

  • Toasted nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds add texture and healthy fats.

  • Roasted veggies: Roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, or carrots bring warmth and depth of flavor.

  • Pickles: Add a tangy twist with pickled cucumbers, onions, or beets.

  • Hummus: A dollop of hummus adds creaminess and extra protein.

  • Cheese: Crumbled feta, grated parmesan, or chunks of cheddar provide a rich, savory taste.

  • Fresh herbs: Basil, cilantro, parsley, or mint can add a burst of fresh flavor.

  • Fruits: Sliced apples, berries, pomegranate seeds, or citrus segments add sweetness and a fresh twist.

Love Your Leftovers 

A salad topped with shredded tuna and hard boiled eggs

Transform last night's dinner into a healthy lunch for the next day. By adding fresh greens and other salad ingredients, you can breathe new life into your leftovers. It also means no food goes to waste and every meal feels new and satisfying.

  • Frittata: Slice up leftover frittata and add it to your salad for a boost of protein and flavor. The combination of eggs, vegetables, and cheese in the frittata pairs well with fresh greens and a light vinaigrette.

  • Boiled potatoes: Chop up cold, boiled potatoes and toss them into your salad. They add a hearty texture and can turn a light salad into a more filling meal. For extra flavor, consider roasting the potatoes with some herbs before adding them.

  • Lasagna: While it might seem unconventional, chunks of leftover lasagna can add an interesting twist to your salad. The layers of pasta, sauce, and cheese provide a rich, savory element that complements fresh vegetables.

  • Meatballs: Slice up leftover meatballs and sprinkle them over your salad. Whether they’re made from beef, chicken, or a plant-based alternative, meatballs add a flavorful protein source. Pair them with crunchy greens and a tangy dressing for a balanced meal.

  • Grilled vegetables: Leftover grilled vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, or eggplant, can be chopped and added to your salad. Their smoky, charred flavor adds depth and makes your salad more satisfying.

  • Rice or quinoa: If you have leftover rice or quinoa, mix it into your salad for added texture and nutrients. These grains can absorb the flavors of the dressing and other ingredients, enhancing the overall taste.

  • Roast chicken: Shred leftover roast chicken and scatter it over your salad. It’s a simple way to add protein and a savory element. Combine it with a variety of vegetables and a creamy dressing for a hearty meal.

  • Pasta: Cold pasta, whether plain or with a light sauce, can be a great addition to salads. Mix it with fresh veggies, olives, and a tangy dressing for a quick and delicious pasta salad.

Mason Jar Salads

Mason jar salads are a convenient and efficient way to prepare and store your salads. This makes them perfect for meal prep and on-the-go lunches. The layering technique ensures that the dressing stays at the bottom, preventing the greens from getting soggy. They're also portable, easy to store, and can be made in advance, saving you time during busy weekdays.

To get started with mason jar salads, you'll need a mason jar or any wide-mouth jar, like a pickle jar. Gather fresh salad ingredients, including greens, vegetables, grains, proteins, and toppings, along with your favorite salad dressing and follow these steps. 

  1. Start with the dressing: Pour your salad dressing of choice into the bottom of the jar. This keeps it separate from the greens and prevents sogginess.

  2. Add hearty ingredients: Next, layer in sturdy vegetables that won’t absorb the dressing, like carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.

  3. Include grains and proteins: Add grains (quinoa, rice, farro) and proteins (chicken, beans, tofu) on top of the vegetables. These ingredients help to keep the greens from getting weighed down.

  4. Layer soft ingredients: Add any softer ingredients like avocado, boiled eggs, tofu, and cheese next.

  5. Top with greens: Fill the rest of the jar with leafy greens. Pack them in tightly to avoid too much air, which can cause wilting.

  6. Add crunchy toppings: Finally, if you’re including nuts, seeds, or croutons, place them at the very top to maintain their crunch.

When you’re ready to eat, simply shake the jar to distribute the dressing and mix the ingredients. Alternatively, you can pour the contents into a bowl for easier mixing. Mason jar salads are a versatile and healthy meal option that you can customize with your favorite ingredients for a fresh and delicious salad every time.

Home Chef’s Roasted Red Pepper and Crispy Chickpea Salad with Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing

Author’s Tip: If you want the ultimate convenience in salad prep, meal delivery services like Home Chef are the answer. Home Chef has a wide range of easy-prep recipes including satisfying entrée salads and freshly bagged side salads. Our tried-and-tested Home Chef review goes into greater detail about why this is among our top-rated meal delivery services.

6 Top Tips to Keep Your Salads Exciting🥒

  1. Get Creative

A great salad combines a variety of textures to keep each bite interesting. Start by adding crunchy elements like nuts, seeds, or croutons. These components provide a satisfying crunch that contrasts nicely with the softer ingredients, enhancing the overall eating experience.

For colder weather, incorporate roasted vegetables into your salads. Roasting veggies like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, or carrots brings out their natural sweetness and adds a warm, hearty texture to your salad. Combining these roasted elements creates a depth of flavor and enjoyment, making your salad both comforting and exciting.

  1. Make Salad the Star

Add proteins like grilled chicken, tofu, shrimp, or beans. Then you can turn a simple salad into a hearty, satisfying entrée. These protein-packed salads are not only nutritious but also filling, ensuring you get the necessary nutrients to keep you energized throughout the day.

You could also try creating themed salads that incorporate flavors from different cuisines. For instance, a Mexican salad can include black beans, corn, avocado, and a zesty lime dressing, while an Asian-inspired salad might feature ingredients like edamame, shredded carrots, crispy wontons, and a sesame-ginger dressing.

  1. Salads as Sides

A side salad is an excellent way to add nutrition to meals that may lack vegetables, such as pizza, pasta, or sandwiches. A fresh, vibrant salad can provide the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that these main dishes often miss. By serving a salad on the side, you enhance the nutritional value of your meal without compromising the integrity of the main dish.

It can also break the monotony of eating just 1 texture. If you enjoy the taste of your pizza and don't want to overload it with vegetables, a side salad is the perfect solution. This way, you can savor the flavors of your pizza while still ensuring you get your veggie intake. 

A creamy cucumber salad dressing being mixed in a bowl

  1. Don’t Forget the Dressing

Dressings and sauces can elevate your salad from bland to delicious. Making your own dressings allows you to control the ingredients, ensuring they are fresh and healthy. There's no need to demonize dressings; when used properly, they can enhance the flavor of your salad and make you more likely to enjoy and consume more vegetables.

Sprinkling on toppings like nuts, seeds, dried fruits, or crumbled cheese also adds flavor and texture. Also, fat-based dressings, such as those made with olive oil or avocado, help your body absorb more nutrients from the vegetables, making your salad tastier and more nutritious¹.

  1. Keep Your Salad Visible

One key to eating more salads is to keep them visible and easily accessible. Don't hide your greens at the bottom of the fridge where they might be forgotten. Instead, store them in a bowl of water on your counter, and simply slice off a few leaves each day. When fresh ingredients are in sight it reminds you to include them in your meals.

For those with busy schedules, using pre-washed greens and pre-cut veggies make it easy to quickly assemble a nutritious salad without the hassle. Additionally, consider planting microgreens at home. These tiny, nutrient-packed greens can be grown on your windowsill and harvested as needed, ensuring you always have fresh, healthy additions for your salads.

  1. Plan Ahead

To make salads a regular part of your diet, it's essential to plan ahead. Buy fresh ingredients and keep your favorite toppings stocked up. This ensures you always have what you need to create a delicious salad at any time. Eating seasonally can also help you enjoy the freshest produce, adding variety and flavor to your salads throughout the year.

Meal prepping is a great way to stay on track. Line a week's worth of containers with paper towels to keep your salad leaves fresh and crisp. The right equipment makes salad prep easier and more efficient: a salad spinner to dry your greens thoroughly, and a grater or mandolin to quickly slice and shred ingredients, saving you time and effort in the kitchen.

Why Eat More Salads?🤔

Most people, when asked what’s the healthiest meal, will say salad. But do we really know why? Understanding the benefits of salads can help you appreciate their value and inspire you to include more of them in your diet².

Nutritional Content

Salads are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Leafy greens like spinach and kale provide vitamins A, C, and K, while colorful vegetables such as bell peppers and carrots offer a variety of nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamin C³. Many common ingredients in salad are also naturally high in fiber. Adding fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins further enhances the nutritional profile, making salads a powerhouse of important nutrients.

An infographic displaying different benefits of eating salad

Weight Management

Salads are excellent for weight management. Vegetables are low in calories but take up a lot of volume, which helps you feel full and satisfied. The high fiber content in salads also promotes fullness, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

Digestive Health

Salads are beneficial for your gut health. The fiber in vegetables and fruits supports a healthy digestive system and feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut, promoting a balanced microbiome. This not only improves digestion but also enhances overall well-being.

What Types of Salad Are There?🥬

Side-by-side photos of a garden salad, avocado salad, and caprese salad

Salads come in many forms, each offering unique flavors and nutritional benefits. Understanding the different types can help you diversify your meals and keep things interesting.

  • Green salads: These are the most traditional and often what comes to mind first. Examples include the classic Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, croutons, and parmesan, and the simple garden salad, which combines fresh veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and carrots with your favorite mixed greens.

  • Grain salads: For a heartier option, grain salads incorporate wholesome grains like quinoa, farro, or bulgur. Tabbouleh features bulgur wheat mixed with parsley, mint, tomatoes, and lemon juice. A Buddha Bowl is another great option, combining quinoa, vegetables, avocado, and a protein source like chickpeas or tofu.

  • Fruit salads: These highlight the natural sweetness of fruits, often paired with complementary ingredients. A classic example is the Waldorf salad, which includes apples, grapes, and walnuts in a creamy dressing. Another option is a mixed berry salad with strawberries, blueberries, and a hint of mint.

  • Pasta salads: Perfect for a filling meal, pasta salads blend cooked pasta with a variety of ingredients. The Italian pasta salad typically includes rotini pasta, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives dressed in a tangy vinaigrette. Another popular choice is the Mediterranean pasta salad, which features orzo, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and spinach.

  • Protein salads: These focus on protein-rich ingredients, making them a satisfying meal on their own. The Cobb salad, for instance, includes chicken, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, and blue cheese over a bed of mixed greens. Another example is the Nicoise salad, which features tuna, green beans, potatoes, and olives.

  • Vegetable salads: These celebrate the variety of vegetables available, often with little to no greens. The Caprese salad, made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, is a simple yet flavorful option. A roasted vegetable salad, combining roasted veggies with a light dressing, is another option.

FAQs

How to get into liking salads?

Start by making salads more enjoyable. Add ingredients you already like, such as fruits, nuts, or cheeses, and use flavorful dressings. Gradually incorporate more vegetables and get creative with different textures and flavors​.

How to make salads more interesting?

There are plenty of top tips to keep your salads exciting. Try mixing up the ingredients and textures. Include a variety of greens, colorful veggies, grains, and proteins. Top with nuts, seeds, or fruits for crunch, and use homemade dressings to enhance flavor​​.

What are the health benefits of eating more salads?

Eating more salads provides essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. They support weight management, improve digestion, and boost health by providing vitamins and minerals from fresh vegetables and fruits​​.

How can I make homemade salad dressings?

Making homemade salad dressings is simple. Combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and herbs for a basic vinaigrette. For variety, try blending pesto with olive oil and lemon juice, or mix honey and mustard with apple cider vinegar and olive oil​.

What to eat with salad to get full?

To make salads more filling, add proteins like grilled chicken, tofu, beans, or eggs. Including grains like quinoa or brown rice, and adding healthy fats from avocados or nuts, will also help you stay satisfied longer​.

References

1. https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2012/120619FerruzziSalad.html

2. https://nutritionsource.hsph.harvard.edu/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/

3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31278048/

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8153313/

5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15462130/

6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33208922/

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