Salads: what we eat for lunch

A couple years after writing this post I decided to write short e-book about eating meal sized salads. Click the graphic below to read more and download the e-book for free!

Last week was our first farm pick up and we got a big bag of... spring greens!! So this post is all about salad and what we eat usually eat for lunch. 

Because this post is about salad and I live in the northeast United States where salad ingredients don't grow year round I feel the following has to be said. As much as I love the idea of being a locovore, read my review of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for more on this subject, it doesn't really work when you live in a northern climate. Unless:

  • you're willing to eat lots of animal products - we're not
  • you're content to eat cabbage and potatoes every single day - we would if we had to
  • you have a greenhouse in your backyard and can grow greens all year round - not there yet

What this means for us is that as much as we'd love to eat locally all year round it just isn't possible when we value highly a diet of fresh green food. So we have to rely on modern transportation (let's call it what it is; the petroleum industry) to supply our winter greens. In my defense we do get Maine greenhouse grown tomatoes all year. Greenhouses... I know, I know, it's still better than from across the continent.

There, I got that out of the way. In case you all start shaking your locovore fingers at me while I say we eat salad most days of the year, all year round. At this point you might be wondering: Only salads? Do your kids eat salad? Don't you get hungry eating salad? Are you tired of salad? No, Yes, No & No.

Salads & Other lunch ideas

In the course of 7 days we might eat salad 4 times for lunch. In the winter we also eat soup but those take more time to prepare. Some days we have leftovers but there are never enough leftovers for 5 of us.

My other lunch stand-bys and to add some variety (though I don't believe variety is necessary but a luxury) are: corn tortilla quesadillas, stir fried cabbage & tofu with rice, and one day a week whole grain bread with toppings. Although the afternoons we eat bread I feel a bit more sluggish but it's an easy lunch. The kids and I eat refined grain products a couple times a week, Damien avoids gluten all together. But bread is not our default, fresh veggies are.

Preparing lunches together

It does take more work to prepare a hearty salad for lunch than a pb&j sandwich. So Damien and I do it together. In the morning as we are preparing breakfast I will wash lettuce for all of us, typically 1- 2 heads. Damien will make a dressing (see recipe below) and cut up his veggies. He takes a huge bowl with him to work and I've gotten a start on what the kids and I will eat for lunch. Then during lunch prep I'll cut the rest of the veggies we'll eat, toast sunflower seeds and get beans out the fridge that were cooked the day before or that morning.

Kids eat salad?

Our kids are used to eating salad and will eat it often with little complaint. Celine is our only child who will eat most all vegetables, the other 2 have a few they prefer not to eat so they won't put those on their salad.

If you are transitioning kiddos to eating salad, or yourself for that matter, load it up with lots of interesting things and healthy homemade dressings until you get used to the taste and crunch of all those veggies. Eventually you'll crave raw green veggies and your kids will grow to appreciate them.

My other tip for getting children to eat veggies is to serve a wide variety and let them choose a few they like and don't serve any alternative foods

(we read while we eat lunch)

What do you eat on your salad?

Um... anything and everything. Damien takes supper leftovers, when there is some, and mixes them with the greens. But these are the basics:

  • A leafy green base - spinach, lettuce, meslcun mix, whatever.
  • Beans - in order to satisfy as a meal a salad needs some "meat" (or non-meat in this case). We use any and all kinds of beans and I prepare them from scratch, but more on that in a later post.
  • Cut up veggies - these can be seasonal or your favorites. We like shredded carrot, red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, green onion, cabbage or coleslaw, avocado, etc...
  • Chopped fruits and nuts - Most days I'll toast sunflower seeds, they are cheap and tasty. Dried cranberries (yum, yum) and the like are a treat for when family visits.
  • Dressing - Damien makes our dressings. Finding a dressing we all like is tricky, the recipe below is a current favorite. We try to avoid refined oils and limit sodium and instead experiment with seeds, fruit juices and nuts.

In case it isn't clear already a salad is a very satisfying meal with the addition of vegetables and beans and if it is BIG.

Lemon sesame dressing

  • Juice of one lemon, approximately 3 tbsp
  • equal parts water
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp Braggs, or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp date sugar, optional but will help thicken the dressing

Shake it all up in jar. Makes enough dressing for a single serving meal sized salad.

Happy raw salad eating! Please feel free to ask questions and/or share links to your favorite salad recipes (whole food ingredients preferred).

11/09 Post Update: Salads were working great for spring and summer but the change of season is telling us it's time for a change. Our current routine is to eat salad once or twice a week. The other days the kids and I eat baked beans and bulghur, bean quesadillas and leftover soup (from the previous night's supper). I still start preparing it in the morning so I don't have to spend too much time in the kitchen at noon. 

11/11 Post Update: This past summer we returned to salads almost exclusively for lunch. After all these years of eating salads our kids honestly love them. They ask for them. The kids and I prepare lunch together and it doesn't take too much time. As we head into the winter we plan to continue eating salads, with occasional soup and leftover meals. Definitely moving away from grains at lunch. I wrote a book about this, read all about that here

« Sweet Stuff mid spring
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  • Naomi

    Naomi on May 19, 2009, 5:55 p.m.

    Something else we have in common! Glen and I have really been getting into salads lately. Our theme has been romaine and spinach with grapes, strawberries, and blueberries (we picked the blueberries off Streaked Mnt. when I was 9 months pregnant). Almonds, croutons, cheese, and either chicken or tuna go ontop with some raspberry vinaigrette. Yes, I admit, we have been eating more meat, although it is still in limited amounts and frequency. Instead we've been focusing on getting excess snack foods out of our diet. I'm very excited though, because Nemo has been expressing more interest in raw veggies and fruits, which is very unusual for him. One night last week, the majority of his meal was raw brocolli and dip, woo hoo!


  • kyndale

    kyndale on May 19, 2009, 8:22 p.m.

    making the salad in the morning is a great idea. When lunch roles around, it seems like too much work to make salad. I am gluten-free too and a salad is such a great choice. I could even put it in a container if I need to leave the house. It is so hard to eat on the go when you are gluten-free as you know. The dressing sounds awesome too. Thank you for the inspiration!


  • lisa @ 5 orange potatoes

    lisa @ 5 orange potatoes on May 20, 2009, 2:15 a.m.

    the lemon sesame dressing sounds so good. i think my family would love it. being a family of vegetarians, we eat a lot of fresh salads with beans and various nuts. my girls are great veggie eaters and will try any veggie thrown their way (especially the youngest). i loved and really appreciated this post.

    -Lisa :)


  • Spring

    Spring on May 20, 2009, 3:04 a.m.

    Oh!I am so excited you wrote about this because I have been wanting to email you and say "Help! I need inspiration for lunch!" My kids do all enjoy salad... if I mention salad is on the menu, they all yell "yaaaay!! salad!!" (On hard days when I feel like a failure as a mother, I say to myself "at least they love salad... I did one thing right." LOL! The problem is me having a routine where I keep salads doable and user friendly for me... I am going to try beginning the prep at breakfast. I used to be in the habit of prepping some of the veggies the day I bought them... cutting up carrots for on the go, shredding some for salads etc. It's on my list to work that in again. Also, I have been wanting to try making some of Damien's dressing recipes, so I was so thrilled to see one here. We'll give this one a try with tomorrow's salad! Thank you thank you! :)


  • kirwin

    kirwin on May 20, 2009, 2:20 p.m.

    My kids love most vegetables, thank goodness, but not lettuce. They always pick the "leaves" out! No problem -- they get salad without lettuce.

    I have to admit that I'm less inclined to eat salads when it's cold outside. But as the weather heats up, salad is all I want. BTW, the dressing recipe looks fantastic -- I can't wait to try it.

    Can I ask what kind of cheese you eat? My favorite vegan cheese is the "Veggie Shred" kind, but I still LOVE goat cheese. If I had to choose one real cheese, it would be goat cheese, without question.


  • Internet savvy

    Internet savvy on Feb. 4, 2012, 2:25 a.m.

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