11 Far-From-Boring Salads to Step Up Your Lunch Game

Last Update: March 11, 2020

Work lunches pose an age-old dilemma: bring something from home or spring for takeout?

The former is usually healthier and definitely cheaper, but the latter requires less planning (and, let’s face it, is sometimes more satisfying). Homemade salads might just be the perfect solution—they’re quick to throw together, and you’ll feel good knowing you’re eating your veggies. There’s just one catch: you have to figure out how to keep ’em interesting. We can help with that.

With these 11 unconventional recipes, your salads will be just as varied and exciting as any prepared midday meal you can buy. Get ready to inspire envy in your coworkers!

Salmon brown rice salad

Brown Rice and Salmon Salad

Seasoned with rice wine vinaigrette and topped with edamame and roasted salmon, leftover rice transforms into a quick, easy, satisfying lunch.

Grapefruit-Watercress Salad

Watercress-Grapefruit Salad

Tart grapefruit segments complement peppery watercress in this flavorful, antioxidant-packed pairing. Can’t find watercress? Arugula or endive work just as well.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad With Tahini

Though not a traditional salad, per se—the winning combination of roasted cauliflower, creamy tahini, and fresh herbs is perfect for a vegetarian lunch or side dish.

Kale Caesar Salad

Kale Caesar Salad

Massaging kale leaves with a little olive oil and salt—really!—leaves them tender enough to serve raw, as in this nutrient-packed, dairy-free take on the classic Caesar. Nutritional yeast , which mimics the umami flavor of Parmesan, and crispy bacon top it off.

Brussels sprouts salad

Brussels Sprouts and Seeds Slaw

Even if you typically abhor Brussels sprouts, you might want to give this one a try. Raw and sliced into ribbons, they shine in this super crunchy slaw with seeds, sweet dried cherries, and a tangy apple dressing.

Nicoise salad

Salmon Niçoise Salad

Save your cubicle-mates from the stench of canned tuna and top niçoise salad with milder, salmon instead.

Broccolini salad

Sweet and Spicy Broccolini Salad

When you need a break from lettuce, flavorful and satisfying sauteed broccolini is a worthy swap, especially with our mustard-infused vinaigrette.

Watermelon tomato salad

Watermelon-Tomato Salad

With summer right around the corner, it’s time to bust out the picnic recipes. An unexpectedly tasty blend of sun-ripened tomatoes, juicy watermelon, fresh mint, and Mexican spices is one of our current faves.

Chicken Laab

Chicken Laab

Fragrant lemongrass, tart lime juice, garlic, and chiles bring bring flavor to ground chicken in this classic Laotian dish with an essential umami ingredient—fish sauce.

Cucumber seaweed salad

Cucumber Seaweed Salad

Salty seaweed and a slightly sweet rice wine star in our take on a popular Japanese appetizer.

Sardine salad

Lemon-Fennel Sardine Salad

It’s time to give sardines a second chance. Full of omega-3s and healthy fats, they’re incredibly good for you—and good on salads, especially when paired with tart lemon and refreshing fennel.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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