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How To: Build a Better Salad

image of build a better salad

Although salads can be simple and it’s easy to get in a routine using the same few ingredients, adding a splash of creativity can go a long way to making your salads more fun and delicious!

Salads are a great way to enjoy your vegetables! In this article, you will learn how to create a balanced salad that can be enjoyed as a meal to keep you full and satisfied.


  1. Step-by-Step: Printable Guide
  2. Breakdown of Steps
  3. Recipes

Step-By-Step: Printable Guide

Breakdown of Steps

1. Start with Vegetables:

Portion: ½ plate/bowl or the size of your fist

Most salads start with some type of lettuce for the base, but you can use any type of veggies! Get creative and have fun; pick a few different types of vegetables and use a combination of cooked and raw to customize your salad with different flavours and textures.

Raw Vegetables: lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, radishes

Roasted or Cooked Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, zucchini, beets, cauliflower, peppers, brussels sprouts, asparagus, mushrooms

2. Include Protein: 

portion size palm

Portion: ¼ plate/bowl or the size of your palm

While a salad can be a side dish, to make it a more substantial meal you can include protein-rich foods. Protein will help to keep you full for longer, and there are great plant-based as well as meat-based protein options for you to choose from. Learn more about protein here. 

Meat-Based Proteins: chicken, beef, pork, boiled eggs, tuna, salmon. 
*Choose lean proteins more often (chicken breast, loin meats)

Plant-Based Proteins: roasted chickpeas or other canned beans, canned lentils, tofu, tempeh, cheese (such as feta or goat cheese)

3. Whole Grains and Starches: 

portion size full hand

Portion: ¼ plate/bowl or the size of your hand

To round out your salad, add some whole grains or starchy veggies to provide extra fibre, nutrients, and flavour. 

Whole Grains: whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, barley, whole wheat croutons, baked pita crisps

Starches: lentils*, chickpeas or other beans*, roasted sweet potatoes, corn, roasted or boiled baby potatoes

*lentils and chickpeas are vegetarian proteins, but they can also fit into the starch category as they are also great sources of fibre and carbohydrates.

4. Add Some Toppings:

portion size cupped hands

Portion: ¼ cup or a cupped hand

Adding extra toppings to your salad adds more flavour, textures, and nutrition. Make sure to measure these out as it is easy to overdo it on the toppings! Aim for ¼ cup or a small handful.

Try: roasted nuts or seeds, avocado, fresh fruit (try strawberries, peaches, pears, or blueberries), dried fruit (try cranberries, currants), crumbled cheese, fresh herbs (try parsley, cilantro, or basil).

5. Dressing:

portion size 2 thumbs

Portion: 2 tablespoons or the size of 2 thumbs

A great salad dressing can highlight the flavours of your salad and make it even tastier! Making your own dressing is easy, and it can be healthier and less expensive than store-bought. Classic salad dressings include balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard, caesar, and lemon poppyseed.

Check out this blog post for delicious, healthy dressings that you can make at home – and save money!

Check out this blog post for delicious DIY dressing recipes!

For more tips on portion sizes check out this printable by EatRight Ontario.


Now that you have all the tips to build a delicious salad, we would love to see your creations!

Take a pic and tag @Meant2Prevent on Instagram, or email to kitchen@meant2prevent.ca for a chance to have your dish featured.

Check out these Recipes!

Meal Salads

Side Salads:

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