How The Great Salad Experiment Started

At the end of September, hubby was going to be out of town for the entire week and it didn’t make sense to cook different dinners for the kids and I for each of the six days he was gone. Plus, I didn’t want to spend my entire weekend prepping meals…that would have started me off exhausted and frazzled come Monday!

So the question became: How do I prep enough healthy dinners and lunches to cover me from Sunday to Friday?

The answer came from what we were already doing. Hubby and I had started eating salad for breakfast because it made mornings easier. We were using Trader Joe’s convenient salad kits, so all we had to do was feed the kids in the morning and we could be at work for 7:30 AM to have breakfast at our desks before we kicked off the busy day. 

It was working so well for us that I decided eating salads for lunch for the week he was away was worth a try.

But here’s the thing…I don’t like salads. Scratch that…I hate salads.

They’re cold, they’re light, and they don’t feel substantial enough to hold me off till a late afternoon snack. With the breakfast salads we were doing, it was taking all my willpower to hang in till lunch when hunger kicked in around 10 AM in the morning, so I wasn’t 100% that the experiment wouldn’t leave me hangry by the time I got home to two active toddlers. 

So to give the idea a fighting chance, I started with what I didn’t like:

Problem #1: Salads are cold

Cold food leaves me feeling like I haven’t had anything to eat. There’s no sensation of satisfaction when I’m done eating, and this always meant hitting the vending machine in the past when I tried to make it work.

The Fix to the Cold Salad Problem

After some thought, I decided that my salads didn’t have to be entirely cold. I chose to add a warm protein to satisfy my need to have something warm in the mix. To cut down on prep time, I made one protein to last the entire week. This Vietnamese-Style Meatball Recipe via Once Upon a Chef did the trick as it’s packed with the flavor to go with the warmth that I was looking for. 

Problem #2: Salads are light and don’t feel substantial

My history with salads meant that I’d always kept them really light and lean out of habit from my days of calorie restriction. That usually meant that I was hungry enough to eat anything in sight within an hour an half.

The Fix: Add On to Bulk it Up

I was already baking rolls for my little girl for her breakfast every day. So for that week, I decided to bake a roll for myself as well to go with my lunch. 

These two fixes helped me add the warmth and weight that I was missing from salads. I had my light breakfast salads, enjoyed my heavier lunch salads, and I pre-cooked two meals that we alternated during the week and everyone was happier for it.

That week worked like a charm because:

  • I spent very little time in the kitchen, which comes in handy when you have an active 4 year old and 19 month old to keep up with on your own.
  • Dinner was on the table almost as soon as the kids and I got back from work/daycare.
  • We got to spend our evenings chilling out, doing homework, and getting ready for bed instead of battling dinner first before the downtime began.

After such an amazing week, I thought to myself, “why do I have to do this when one of us is traveling? Why can’t we have this sense of ease every single week even when both of us are in town?”

And this was how The Great Salad Experiment was born!

Here’s why I thought the experiment would work for me 

Hindsight being 20/20, I can see why this experiment has worked for me so far. Here I am, 3 weeks later, still happily eating salads for breakfast and lunch.

Why?

#1 I didn’t ignore what I didn’t like. 
In the past, I would have told myself to suck it up for the week and eat the regular salads that I’d been doing for breakfast. If I’d done that, I’d have set myself up to fail. You see, the breakfast salads were great for breakfast because I enjoyed them with a cup of tea and some yummy raw cashews, but doing the same thing for lunch would have added a level of monotony that would have had me quitting before Wednesday.

#2 I wasn’t rigid about having it be a certain way

Using premade salad kits from the store and using recipes for the first few weeks of lunch salads (more on the ones I used next week) worked like a charm. In the past, I would have tried to jump in and make it all from scratch. But there’s something about having two kids and a full time job that helps you realize that you’ve gotta ease into things if you want to make the change last.

What you can learn from my experience

When you’re kicking off a change whether in how you take care of yourself, your work, or your family life…make sure you address your pain points.

  • Don’t like to wake up early to work out? Then think about other ways to fit movement into your day.
  • Not a fan of eating salads? You could try what I did,you could cook your veggies and assemble warm bowls instead, or find other convenient recipes to cook meals that work for you.
  • Unhappy with how your day feels so busy, but your to-do list and projects never seem to get done? Take control of your calendar so that your top priorities get done before other people start making demands on your day.

That’s it for this week…next week…

I’ll be sharing what I did to set myself up to succeed with The Great Salad Experiment.

Photo for Blog Graphic by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

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