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7 Ways to Make the Most of the Supermarket Salad Bar

Get ready to make a healthy and budget-friendly salad from the supermarket salad bar!

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salad bar with vegetables in the restaurantShutterstock / Destinyweddingstudio

Stopping at the salad bar for lunch? The easy shortcut to pre-cut vegetables, greens and grains is always tempting, but how do you get the most bang for your buck without skimping on what you’re craving? Here’s how to take charge of the salad bar!

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Fresh green salad with spinach,arugula,romaine and lettuceAlena Haurylik/Shutterstock

Go Heavy on the Light Stuff

Since more salad = more weight = more money, stick with big handfuls of greens and veggies that aren’t so dense. When you’re craving heavy grains or extra protein, you might want to bring your own to mix in after, or pick up tuna from another spot in the store.

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Kiwi blackberry balsamic chicken salad with avocado, spinach, feta cheese and walnuts.Shutterstock / freeskyline

BYOP (Bring Your Own Protein)

Proteins like grilled chicken should be the first thing to ditch from the salad bar. Not only will they weigh your salad down quickly, they won’t taste as fresh as ones you can get from the deli, or even bring from home. If you’ve got leftover grilled chicken breasts, buttery shrimp or even hard boiled eggs, bring them in a container to top your salad after checkout.

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Variety of homemade sauces and salad dressings in mason jars including vinaigrette, ranch and honey mustardShutterstock / Elena Veselova

Use Your Own Dressing

If you’re taking your salad home for a quick weeknight dinner, use the salad dressings you’ve got in the fridge, whether it’s store-bought or homemade dressing. For the days you take a salad back to work, keep some dressing in the breakroom refrigerator. Dressing will not only weigh down your salad, but also leave it on the soggy side if you’re not eating it immediately.

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Salad Bar Fresh Vegetables Healthy foodShutterstock / VTT Studio

Shop Around for the Best Deal

Not all salad bars are created equal, so not all salad bars are priced the same. Popping into your local Kroger or the office building’s cafeteria will be far less expensive than Whole Foods, so pick and choose what matters most to you, whether it be price, freshness or selection.

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Salad bar with vegetables in the restaurantShutterstock / SAGRAPEE KONKHOM

Grab Ingredients for Other Dishes

Who says you only have to get salad? You may find ingredients you need for an upcoming dinner—and you can easily grab what you need instead of spending money on a whole package. Grab a few scoops of gorgonzola and some sliced jalapeño for a savory and salty burger, or some pre-minced and roasted garlic for when you need a little something extra on tonight’s grilled veggie pizza.

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American supermarket.Shutterstock / Supachai Pakdeesrisakda

Go Early

It goes without saying that the salad bar can not only be a messy place, it can also get crowded during your lunch hour. Try to go as early as you can in the day, even before you head into the office. You’ll get the freshest options, and won’t end up waiting in line like it’s a buffet.

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SaladShutterstock / leungchopan

Use the Smaller Container

You’d be surprised at what you can pack into a smaller container at the salad bar—just about everything you need, especially if you’re going with lighter in weight items, and bringing your own proteins and dressing. Plus, you won’t end up taking more food than what you’ll actually eat. Wins all around!

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