You’ll love these quick and filling salad ideas for busy moms, grad students, and side hustlers.

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Believe me when I say that I know your schedule doesn’t immediately slow down at 5pm on a Tuesday. The work day might be over, but now you’re trying to juggle a networking event, grad school assignments, a crying toddler, and a slew of emails for your side business. I’ve been there—minus the toddler—so I know what it’s like to be so busy you forget to eat until a migraine reminds you it’s dinner time.

Think Like a Vegetarian

If one of your goals is health and wellness, you may be even more frustrated by a lack of time to prepare healthy meals at home. And don’t get me started on the sink full of pots and pans that magically appears when enjoying a home-cooked meal—but doesn’t magically disappear afterward.

Short of hiring a personal chef or expensive delivery service, your options for enjoying nutritious meals at home are limited. As a vegetarian, it may not be surprising that salads are one of my go-to meals. Don’t write off salads too quickly! I share the same busy schedule and health goals as you, and salads are one of the tools that help me manage both.

In this post, I’ve curated my favorite simple, quick, and filling salad recipes for busy weeknights.

Spoiler: There are NO boring Caesar salads on this list!

quick and easy salad recipes

Pro tip: Think like a vegetarian. Prioritize diverse textures, flavors, and colors, with an emphasis on protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Summer Favorite: Corn and Crab

I’ve modified Garlic and Zest’s Sweet Corn and Crab Salad and dressing recipe for my personal preferences. It’s so good that my carnivorous husband enjoys it as much as I do. And yes, I do occasionally eat crab even though I consider myself a vegetarian.

Salad: red leaf lettuce; white corn from boiled corn on the cob; diced orange bell pepper and jalapeno; sliced scallions; cubed avocado; grated cotija cheese

Protein: jumbo lump crab or crab cake

Dressing: Dijon citrus herb (Use parsley if you’re not a fan of cilantro.)

Fall Favorite: Roasted Veggie

I ate this salad twice a week for about three years before I decided to switch it up. It’s filled with sweet and savory the fall flavors.

Salad: baby romaine; roasted butternut squash or carrots; cubed apples; dried cranberries; pecan halves; pepitas; goat cheese crumbles

Protein: chickpeas or sliced hanger steak

Dressing: fig balsamic vinaigrette

Everyday Favorite: Buffalo Bleu

This was the first salad I ever became obsessed with. It tastes like the nostalgia of trips to Saladworks between college classes.

Salad: romaine; halved baby heirloom tomatoes; sliced English cucumber; sliced pepperoncini; cubed avocado; sunflower seed kernels; gorgonzola crumbles

Protein: plant-based buffalo chik’n nuggets or buffalo chicken breast

Dressing: blue cheese

tasty and filling salad ideas

The Power of Meal Planning

Never underestimate the power of meal planning! Save time when you prepare these ingredients 1-3 days ahead.

  • Chopped raw veggies
  • Roasted veggies
  • Homemade salad dressing and croutons
  • Dry mixes like nuts, seeds, and dried berries
salad meal prep

Pro tip: Keep ingredients separate until you’re ready to eat. No one likes a soggy salad!

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