Since I am working at home now, I have been making my own lunches a lot more. I have to say, making your own lunch saves both money and calories. Between not going out for lunch as often and avoiding all the goodies that show up in the office break room, I have had a much easier time maintaining my weight. Office work can really be bad for you!
I try to keep mixed salad greens in the fridge so I can always whip up a healthy salad for lunch (or for dinner). It doesn’t take long to throw together a good salad, and it helps use up all the little bits of cooked vegetables and meat in the fridge without it seeming so much like eating leftovers. I generally make a small amount of vinaigrette to dress it, since making homemade salad dressing is so easy, and it’s healthier and tastier than the bottled stuff. I like to experiment with different flavors, depending on what I have on hand. I usually make a small amount — a ¼ cup or so — and use it throughout the week.
I am not a big fan of the raw salad. Other than the greens, I prefer my salads to be composed mainly of cooked veggies and proteins, although I will throw in tomatoes, avocado and even fruit, if I have some handy. I like to choose three to four ingredients, usually a protein and a couple of vegetables or fruit.
For inspiration, I start in the fridge. I save small amounts of cooked veggies left over from dinner just for salads (although I may have to rinse any seasonings off first). Bits of cheese, hard-boiled eggs, leftover bacon and chicken can go in as well.
Next, I turn to the pantry. Good candidates for rounding out a salad are nuts, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, dried fruit and canned beans or tuna. Again, I try to use up the small leftover portions that might otherwise go to waste.
Arrange it all on a bed of greens and toss with the vinaigrette. Lunch is served!
Tip: If you’re cooking the vegetables right before you make your salad, toss them with the vinaigrette in the warm pan. This works especially well with mustard vinaigrettes. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over the greens, then add the warm vegetables. This technique makes a great salad for a winter day.
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