The Salad Experiment.

How a very hungry meat lover learned to eat salad for lunch three days per week.

Frug Salad Brad Beckstrom

I put meat and cheese in it. Well, there’s more to it than that.

Some background. Now that the weather’s a bit warmer, I ride my bike to a few different restaurants around here at lunchtime. One of my favorites has a three meat platter – pulled pork, sausage, and beef brisket. You also get two sides, baked beans, maybe some coleslaw. I skipped the roll and cornbread (you know, low-carb). Really healthy right? I figured if I’m riding my bike, I can indulge once in a while. And then there’s Pedro & Vinny’s. Their burritos are the size of my size 13 shoes. Social Proof here. But, I, of course do not eat the giant flour tortilla (you know, because I do low-carb).

Finally, even closer is the sushi place where the chef platter not only includes a full sushi roll and four pieces of Nigiri, it includes a salad bar, miso soup, tempura fried veggies, a cup of rice, and a filet of fish or chicken. The chef’s special is $9.99. That’s an outstanding value, how can I pass that up? I skip the bowl of rice, of course, you know….low carb.

3 or 4 days week of lunches like this adds up. Waistline, wallet, wellness. I wanted to make a change.  At first, I experimented with supermarket salad bars. These are just odd. I noticed how they chop the vegetables in giant slices and include lots of mayo heavy pasta/potato/imitation crab-type salads.  These are just to make the salad weigh more/cost more. I was better off eating at the sushi place! Then there are the new healthy salad chains. They have better ingredients but you’ll be spending $13 or $15 on a salad and drink, especially if you like some meat on your salad.

I was picking up some wine at our local Trader Joe’s and discovered some very interesting premade salads priced between $3.49 and $3.99. They have some more expensive versions that include meat, but the real value is in the healthy sized mixtures of greens, veggies, nuts, and beans in a resealable clamshell package.  These are not small, and after adding a few of my own ingredients I usually even have enough left over to create a small dinner salad as well.

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Here’s how I create a week of kick ass salads.

  1. Pickup two or three fresh salads at Trader Joe’s. They have a crazy variety – super spinach, Italian, Greek, asian, southwest, bean and many more. You can skip the ones with meat, better to add that on your own later.
  2. Grab a couple tomatoes and a cucumber. These are often left out of the salads, it’s better to add them fresh.
  3. For the meat toppings, I always keep some ham to can slice up and make good use of any leftover chicken, steak, even meatballs. All work well on top of these salads.
  4. Keep a jar of pitted olives, parmesan cheese, some other cheeses you can dice up with the ham to create a great chef salad.  If you’re eating healthy all the time you do need to keep it interesting, or you’ll lose interest. Pig out, have some good cheese.
  5. Use a dressing you can see through like balsamic vinaigrette, Most of the salads include dressing, but sometimes they are creamy stuff like southwestern or ranch you should avoid.
  6. Once you get all set up with a cutting board and a sharp chef knife, you’ll be able to bang out a world-class salad in about 5 minutes.

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, I recommend buying a bag of mixed greens and keeping a few more toppings on hand like walnuts, tuna fish, carrots, and celery to keep things interesting.

This should take no more than one visit to the store per week. With all the time you’ll save, you can just stay on the bike next time you go for a ride and skip the burrito.


The Frug


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