If you’re looking for a healthy lunch but pressed for time, ready-made salads can seem like the perfect answer - after all, salads can be a great way to squeeze more veggies into our diet. But they can also be an easy way to sneak extra calories, sugar, and salt into our diets! So today, we’re getting the skinny with Molly on her top picks and worst bets when it comes to grab-and-go salads in stores!
Label-reading notes: Compare the protein & carb ratio on labels, ideally looking for at least 20 grams protein, and not more than 20-30 grams carbs, if you’re watching weight/waistline. And check sodium (less than 600 mg sodium ideally) & sugar: If a salad is high in sugars, look at ingredients to see if it’s sugar from fruits and vegetables, or if it’s from a sugary salad dressing.
Trader Joe’s Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad | 8.75 oz
- Per Salad: 240 calories, 1 gram sat fat, 610 mg sodium, 19 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 11 grams sugar, 14 grams protein
- Ingredients: Napa cabbage, chicken breast strips, Daikon radish, carrot, red cabbage, green papaya, lime, green onion, cilantro, citrus dressing
Whole Foods Market DIY Salad Bar | size varies
- Start with bed of veggies & fruits: Dark leafy greens (or no greens), and a rainbow of colors: red, orange, yellow peppers, grilled zucchini & squash, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, and berries.
- Add (optional) whole grains & starches like quinoa, sweet potato, lentils, and legumes
- Add protein: 3+ ounces chicken, tofu, or fish/shrimp/sliced meats from prepared foods counter
- Sprinkle of nuts/seeds (optional)
- Go easy on the cheese
- TIP: If you’re not eating salad immediately, consider packing proteins and other ‘wet’ ingredients separate from produce
Eat Fit NOLA grab & go salads available at WELL
- Clean Creations, Purple Seed, SWEGS, Green to Go, The Fit Plate, True Body Nutrition
- All Eat Fit salads: <600 cals, 20+ grams protein (or 20+ protein + fiber + fat for vegan entrees) with no white carbs, low sodium, less than teaspoon added sugar
Rouses Chopped Asian Salad | 6.25 oz
- Per Salad: 220 calories , 1 gram sat fat, 540 mg sodium, 31 grams carb, 5 grams fiber, 18 grams sugar, 8 grams protein
- Ingredients: Savoy cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, celery, green onion, cilantro, chicken breast, cherry infused cranberries and almond crunch, square noodles, sesame ginger dressing
COSTCO Sweet Kale Salad Kit | 3 oz
- Per Serving (NOTE: 4 servings per container): 150 calories, 1.5 saturated fat, 150 mg sodium, 15 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 10 grams sugar, 3 grams protein
- Ingredients: Kale, green cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chicory, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, poppy seed dressing.
- Per Serving: 560 calories, 8 grams saturated fat, 1210 mg sodium, 46 carbs, 5 grams fiber, 21 grams sugar, 21 grams protein
- Ingredients: BBQ sauce, grilled chicken breast, romaine lettuce, sweet corn, black beans, red onion, roasted red pepper, tortilla strips, Monterey Jack cheese, buttermilk ranch dressing
Walmart Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad | 6.25 oz
- Per Serving: 230 calories, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 980 mg sodium, 8 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams sugar, 16 grams protein
- Ingredients: Romaine lettuce, chicken breast, parmesan style cheese, light Caesar dressing (contains soy, milk, and cheese)
Want more from Molly? Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune! And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram: @MollyKimballRD