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Healthy salads to take to work

With summer coming, I'm looking to add more salads into my workday lunches. Any ideas for yummy healthy salads (perhaps with some protein) that can be prepared (entirely or mostly) in advance?

And my apologies in advance if there's already a thread on this. I'm a new Chowhounder and did do a search, but didn't find what I was looking for.


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  1. I love a mixed green salad with tomatoes, cukes, grilled chicken, toasted pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette. Throw some blue cheese or feta on it if you like. The pine nuts really add a delicious quality to salads.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mojoeater

      My favorite healthy meal-sized salad has lettuce, tomato, scallion, avocado, garbanzo beans and canned tuna. Serve with a vinaigrette made with seasoned rice wine vinegar and oil (with the seasoned vinegar, you don't need as much oil to make a balanced dressing). When I bring this to work, I put the salad in a large tupperware container and keep the tuna and the dressing on the side until I'm ready to eat it.

      1. re: DanaB

        Seasoned Rice vinegar is great! I just use that alone.

        Another huge fave of mine is thin sliced cucumber and some thin sliced onions, in the Rice vinegar or just mixed with no fat yogurt.

    2. I usually make different green salads:
      Romaine with tomato, cucumber, artichoke hearts, feta, torn fresh basil and grilled chicken or shrimp with a drizzle of good balsamic. I prefer balsamic on it's own if it's decent, as opposed to a vinaigrette.

      Mixed field greens with carrot, tomato, cucumber, chick peas and dried cranberries. I also top this with balsamic, but I believe it would also go really well with a lemon vinaigrette.

      You can always prepare the salad ahead of time, and dress it right when you're ready to eat. I used to do this for work all the time. Pack your dressing into a small tupperware container (or just take the bottle with you). I used to save all the soy-sauce containers my sushi restaurant would give me for take out and pack dressings in these. They worked well because they fit right into the container with the salad. No worrying about spillage or losing it.

      Let me also add that grilled or broiled salmon filets are also great on salad.

      4 Replies
      1. re: QueenB

        My co-worker just bought the salad storage container shown here: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...

        It's pretty nice. I might get one too since I bring a lof of salads to work and like to make my own dressing up in the am before I leave.

        I'd add that grain salads like cous cous, farro, quinoa are great for summer lunches.

        I also like Italian tuna with white beans and or potatoes.

        1. re: C. Hamster

          I bought my daughter a salad container. You put the dressing in the top compartment and the salad below it. When it's lunch time you press the dressing button and the dressing squirts out over the salad, then shake. She says that the kids at school all use these containers. I had some trouble finding it, but then found one at D'Ag.

          1. re: C. Hamster

            I bought one of the ones with the green top and salad dressing dispenser. It was cheap, never worked, and dispensed oil all over the kitchen and my clothes.

            1. re: C. Hamster

              I can vouch for this salad container! I usually don't crank the dressing wheel, just open it up from the bottom and pour.
              But it's very big and has its own utensils and even an ice pack if you don't have access to refrigeration.

              I would recommend putting the "stuff" besides the lettuce on the bottom, then adding the lettuce to the top so the lettuce doesn't get 'squished'.

          2. One of my absolute faves is Spinach and Strawberry Salad. Here's a link to the recipe:

            1 Reply
            1. re: hatfiels

              Def add the dressing later. Wouldn't do that ahead of time.

            2. I bring salads often (will phase out soup and stick to salad as it gets warmer).
              I lime to pack things with a higher moisture content in little ziplocks bags within the salad container, such as frozen edamame, which thaws during the work day. I find it keeps my lettuce/greens more fresh tasting.

              while I tend to use whatever I have in my produce drawer for my salad, I like to keep a theme if I can....like asian with the edamame, maybe some leftover tofu, pepper strips, strips of snow peas, green onions, and if i have some cilantro i toss it in too. I use a bottled ginger dressing.

              Or "latin" with some frozen roasted corn kernels, some peppers, red onion, black beans and i pack some whole wheat tortilla chips to sprinkle on top of a lime based dressing i pack in a container and take with me.

              Mixed greens, rinsed canellini beans, diced apples, grape tomatoes, and if i have some steamed veggies leftover i throw them in...and just us whatever dressing i have around or just balsamic and lemon juice.

              Do try to sneak protein in (i use beans and tofu) so you feel more full. Also, pack some whole grain bread/piece of a baguette to go with your salad. Panera's whole grain baguette is the only reason i go in there - it's yummy.

              1. This shredded carrot salad is very good - I usually make the full recipe, which makes enough for two days worth of lunches. It does keep for that long, even with the avocado. i have to say, I prefer it with the lemon juice (although I'd use less than the recipe says, or perhaps a combination of lemon juice and orange juice - ooh, maybe Meyer lemon juice would be perfect), since it's a bit tarter. The OJ was just a touch too sweet. With tofu (and a diced hard boiled egg, which I like to add), it makes a good light salad that's filling yet not heavy.


                1. chopped raw kale with chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and your fave salad dressing...
                  sliced red onions when you're not at work.

                  1. Greek salad! Make a lemon/red wine vinegar/olive oil dressing with fresh garlic and oregano the night before. Wash and dry your lettuce and place in the refrigerator. Seed and chop cucumber, red or green pepper, and some thinly sliced red onion and marinate them in the dressing overnight. In the morning, add a cored tomato, cut in eighths or smaller to the cukes and dressing, along with some feta cheese. Store the lettuce along with some black olives separately from the dressed vegetables and take them to work. Pour the dressed vegetables and cheese over the lettuce and feta at lunchtime. You can add cooked beans, or a hard boiled egg, or cooked chicken or whatever you like for extra protein. Very satisfying with a piece of pita or cooked bulgur or quinoa.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: amyzan

                      I agree with this, for other salads as well - you can mix the chopped veggies (but not the greens) with the dressing ahead of time - sort of like a chopped salad - this will make your cut veggies last 2 or 3 days. Carry that mixture separately and plop it on top of the greens at lunchtime - keeps the greens from wilting.

                    2. Fruit salad with a small cup of yogurt on the side
                      Berries with a honey yogurt dressing on the side
                      Apples, pears & two cheeses....maybe a few wheat crackers
                      Stuffed banana sandwich (I smear peanut butter and crushed walnuts)
                      Endive with shrimp salad (low fat mayo & celery bits)
                      A few stuffed hard boiled eggs-scoop out the cooked yoke and mix with lite mayo and relish

                      The trick is to mix it up during the work week so you don't tire of the same ole thing!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: HillJ

                        I like to make my own cobb salad. with all the vegies, boiled eggs, different lunch
                        meats cut up the the choice of dressings. and you can take along different crackers
                        you like. with a fresh piece of fruit and something to drink. you have it made.

                      2. Whole grains and vegetables! If you skip the raw leaves, you can dress it in the morning and not worry about wilting. As someone else mentioned, quinoa and farro make great whole grain bases for salads. Add some green beans, or red or green peppers, or sundried tomatoes, or shredded carrots, peas, etc, etc, which will improve after sitting in dressing for a few hours.

                        For some protein, add beans, cheese, nuts, or a bit of seared steak or fish.

                        1. I love this thread!
                          I eat tons of salads and most of my faves have been mentioned here. I'd like to add 3 things to the mix.
                          1. Best Dressing: I make a great dressing that works great on everything, not just salad - I drizzle it over cooked veggies, meats, you name it. It's super easy to make -- Dijon mustard, olive oil, white wine vinegar, diced shallots/ or green onions, a splash of lemon juice, and S+P. it doesn't sound like anything that special, but WoW! it comes together so nicely. I didn't include any measurements because I eye-ball it and do it to taste. Either way, you are in for a fantastic treat.
                          2. Mache!!! they sell it at most grocery stores. It makes a great alternate green to lettuce.
                          3. here's my fave salad -
                          Baby Arugula with Salmon in a lemon parmesan dressing.
                          The dressing is super easy - mix lemon juice with olive oil and S+P to taste, then add some parmesan, enough to coat - pecorino works well too.
                          Throw a salmon filet on top of of the dressed Arugula and prepare to have a delicious salad. It's easy to keep the salad "dry" then dress it. but it also tastes good if it sits with the dressing a little bit.

                          1. I'm pretty simple... though I don't always use lettuce...

                            Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, parboiled and chilled cauliflower and broccoli to take the raw bite off, cherry/grape tomatoes, peapod shoots, parboiled and chilled chopped asparagus topped simply with balsamic vinegar and amino acids... or occasionally if I put my protein at the bottom of this mess (roasted chicken or boiled chicken) I'll use a little fat free balsamic vinegarette from WF's 365 brand.

                            Shredded iceberg, garlic grilled chopped eggplant, hearts of palm, chopped tomatoes, a few garbanzos, basil, and balsamic vinegar, topped w/ shredded broth poached chicken.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Emme

                              Now that its getting hot i love the idea of taking salads to work.... I dont have a fridge though so i am always woried the lettuce will get wilty and not fresh tasting.... I like the idea of putting something frozen in a zip lock in the middle.... I will try this one- My faveorite salad is greek with cucumbers, tomatos, sweet peppers, peppercinos, olives, feta and letteuce. Topped with a red wine vinagrette- I know its not very creative but really yummy!!!!

                              1. re: gastronomy

                                Thanks for all the responses - you've helped liven up my lunch routine and I'm looking forward to giving your great ideas a try!

                            2. Make tabouli and add some chickpeas for protein. This also don't require refrigeration and it actually better at room temp. I also add tomatoes and cucumbers.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: slowfoodgrrl

                                I often make a salad consisting of cous cous, finely diced cucumber, red pepper and red onion, fresh dill, lemon, and some cubed feta and grape tomatoes. It keeps very well and is delicious and filling.

                              2. Salads are perfect for work. I have a little refrigerator now, but when I didn't I used an insulated lunch box from the supermarket with those little ice packs.

                                I keep a bowl of mixed lettuces in the fridge at home, along with fresh mozzarella, olives, hard cheese, and vegetables like cucumbers and peppers. There's usually a jar of artichoke hearts there too. Maybe some leftover green beans or steamed broccoli...

                                In the morning before work, I make a bed of greens, add some vegetables, then add some protein-- could be tuna and canned white beans, or some leftover salmon or chicken or beef or pork from last night's dinner (make a bit extra on purpose for lunch). Depending on what I feel like I'll add olives, or crumbled bacon ( I cook a pound of it at a time and keep it refrigerated to add to salads or scrambled) and a hard-boiled egg... some sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or a sprinkle of flax meal... it is never the same twice. I'll sometimes take in an avocado to cut up at work, or some grape tomatoes. Orange slices are good with salmon or shrimp, sprinkled with some almonds. Seedless grapes and an extra boneless grilled chicken breast you cooked last night with dinner. Raisins and shredded carrots and sliced ham,,,You don't need huge amounts of your protein item, just about the size of a deck of cards will give you all you need per meal...

                                I keep a basic bottled dressing in my work fridge, but when I was using the carrier I just put the bottle in the lunch box with the salad and then brought it home. Or you can use a little glass jar with a tight seal (bottles from the craft store, about the size of spice jars, are perfect) and put it right into the dish with the salad. I use the Pyrex glass bowls with rubber or plastic tops to hold the salad, and slip them into a plastic bag so it doesn't leak into my tote bag. I keep real silverware in my desk drawer, along with some paper napkins. It is so good to eat this way, much less expensive and I know what is going into my meal, and that there is nothing I don't like.

                                1. Just made one tonight for dinner:
                                  rotini pasta, romaine lettuce, red pepper, tomato, cheddar cubes, chicken breast, sugar snap peas, almonds and balsalmic vinagrette.

                                  I think that the key is to throw as many different colours into the salad.