Salad Bar Strategy

By Carla Schuit   – Registered Dietitian

I thought this month it would be fun to turn the article into a fun challenge. These days most meals are eaten away from the home and grocery stores are becoming more than just a place to fill the cupboard. Grocery stores now offer cappuccinos and or glasses of wine to enjoy while walking around doing your shopping. They also understand the plight of the busy lives their shoppers live. They offer hot bars, deli meals and salad bars so patrons can grab a ready prepared meal for their lunch or dinner. These grab n go options can be a quick healthy option but there are some things to watch out for.

  1. Cost- you can quickly turn a pile of veggies into a $20 salad if you aren’t careful. Stick to lighter vibrantly colored vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc that will add a lot of nutritional value but not weigh down your plate. Avoid prepared salads such as potato or pasta salads as well as heavy creamy dressings. These add a lot of weight and cost to your bowl with out the nutrients of the veggies. Stick to vinegar and oil or other vinaigrette for your dressing.
  2. Calories – If you aren’t careful as you go down the line you can pack your bowl with high calorie items. Prepared salads, fried foods, and sauces can add up quick to your bank and calorie account. Keep it simple.
  3. Convenience- A lot of times we use these easy and convenient options as excuses or opportunities to indulge. Although we eat out much more often than our parents did we still treat it as a special event. Steer clear of the fried foods, sausages, desserts or other indulgent items. This brings us back to calories consumed and could unintentionally derail us from our diet goals. Choose lean proteins like fish or chicken and add veggies on the side. You can eat as if you cooked it yourself with the luxury of someone else doing the work.

So the challenge extended to you is to go to your local grocery store and make a meal from the cold, hot or salad bar. Make it affordable and nutrient dense by avoiding heavy caloric premade salads and piling high the veggies. Use vinaigrettes instead of heavy, creamy, gravies and sauces. What to do:

  • Go to you local grocery store and make your meal at the hot, cold or salad bar.
  • Take a picture and submit what you included in your meal and the price. (trying to get the most nutrition for our buck here!)
  • Send all information to [email protected] by August 31, 2015.

We will announce the results at the end of the month. I can’t wait to see all the great choices and creative meals you make!

Eat on!