Always Start with a Salad

peanut_ chicken_salad

Everywhere I go

no matter the restaurant, no matter the time or temperature,

I begin the meal with a salad.

Rest assured that aside from breakfast- and well, I suppose lunch also, since it’s usually a garbage bowl of produce and bizarro– a mound raw veg will be present in some way before my main course.

I almost can’t think of an exception to this rule.



And I have to say,

it has served me well.

I think I’m keen on imagining myself becoming as vibrant as the veg. The salad starter is essentially my decision to begin with health, regardless of what’s to come. The fullness helps to slow me down during the main course, allowing for more enjoyment…a better experience altogether.

How often do you start your meals with salad?



38 thoughts on “Always Start with a Salad

  1. kimberly b

    I do this at restaurants for dinner almost always. At home almost never. But it’s something I need to work on for sure – I actually really love a good salad!

  2. Caitlin @ The Caitie Experiment

    This is something that I had gotten away from doing, but have been really focusing on over the past two weeks. It’s amazing how much more well-rounded a meal becomes when you tack a salad on to it! I also, at the suggestion of my uncle, started adding a fruit cup/bowl before breakfast, particularly if I’m dining out. Sure, it’s a couple extra bucks, but it’s well worth it!

  3. Lynn

    Almost every day – I love a salad. Most evenings I just have a big salad topped with anything that’s in the fridge. That’s why I never want those dinner entree salads in a restaurant.

  4. IdaBaker

    I couldn’t agree more. In fact, one of my favorites is just a good old-fashioned salad with tomatoes, a few onions, cucumbers, and maybe some fresh radishes.

  5. Kelley

    LOVE your blog and your style of writing. Thank you.

    Question regarding dining out – most of the time the salad options are these humongous beasts with loads of goat cheese or meat. How, when dining out, do you order a nice, healthy salad starter or do you just get the big kahuna? Do you request a side of veggies, a basic side salad (pure iceberg, normally) or what?

    Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and wit.


  6. Michele

    My mom always served a salad with dinner and I do the same. Sometimes it’s all the picky eaters will eat. I also like my vinaigrette mingled with my other foods on the same plate. Yum.

  7. Elizabeth Whitehill

    I love salad…any tips on dressing? That is what kills them for me, all the cals/fat/sodium in dressing…what do you love?

    1. Ann

      One thing I have done on my journey is use cottage chz (the full kind as it is nearly the same amount of calories as the fat free, and it contains many more nutrients and protien) and then LESS dressing mixed with it. The cottage chz carries the flavor to every leaf but is much better for you and the protiens combined with the fiber from your greens ( I like leaf spinach) will give you the combination you desire to reduce your hunger for the main course that contains more calories per bite!- Good luck

  8. Peggy

    I love to have a salad before most any meal out. Even if we are having breakfast for dinner (or even breakfast), I find myself having a salad before hand. It makes me feel better about pancakes and bacon, to have started with a little green at least.

  9. kace

    I love salad but I’m not allowed to eat it. Doctor’s orders. One silly intestinal blockage….

    Same goes for blueberries.

    I DO try to eat my (cooked) veggies first with my meal though; same filling effect, plus then I get to save the best things for last!

  10. Jojo

    I rarely get salad when eating out at a restaurant, unless it comes with the meal. I usually don’t want to pay more for salad, and if we choose to, we opt for an appetizer (usually a lot unhealthier than raw veggies).

    I do love eating salads, though, and I should start more meals with them. I sometimes have salad as a side or as my main dish. When I’m eating on campus, I hit up the salad bar more often than not, since I don’t get hit by food coma after I eat a salad.

  11. Nuts about food

    As you probably remember from Rome, you never really start a meal here in Italy with salad, it always come with or after the main course. But I do eat pretty big amount of vegetables (often salads) with each meal. Can’t live without them.

  12. Abby

    I love the idea of starting with a salad, but sadly my dining out budget usually only includes the entree and maybe an appetizer to share. I’ll have to work on sharing a salad instead!

    1. Dorie

      Maybe try getting a salad instead of an appetizer and then splitting the entree? That’s something my husband & I have been doing since we’ve started our journey to healthier eating. Our appetizer choices were usually of the “not so healthy” variety even sharing them. And now with both of us starting with a salad instead, we find we both feel plenty full sharing a meal, especially with the large restaurant portions at most places.

  13. Linda

    I grew up with my mom serving salad at every dinner. Just simple greens with oil and vinegar, but it’s stayed with me as a habit. If I’m not eating a meal-salad, then I always try to at least have some lightly dressed greens before or alongside my meal.

  14. Meg

    I’m very veg-centric, so my plate is normally at least half veggies at lunch and dinner. I’m not such a huge fan of salad, especially in the winter, but that ratio of veggies-to-plate never changes. And I always eat them first!

  15. Tracy

    Living in a hot climate, salads are my go-to-meals. Although I was beginning to add way too many vegetables that by the time I was done I had enough for a small army. I now make vege-bowls (salad minus the lettuce) that are more than satisfying. My favorite Lettuce is romaine and when I get in one of those snacking moods where no good is going to come out of it, I keep a strainer on my counter with romaine hearts for snacking as sometimes a girl needs a good crunch without the guilt!

  16. johnny

    I don’t anywhere near enough, but as one above has said, “Thanks for the reminder” :)

    Those salads look soooo good!

  17. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I always start with a salad too. Not just because it helps me eat the right portions of the main meal, but because I actually LOVE salad. When people are asked what food could they eat for the rest of their life if they could only pick one food. Well, for me that would be salad. So versatile and awesome.

  18. Samantha

    I need to try this more often, I love salad but I always seem to forget about it. I also LOVE this comment you wrote: “I think I’m keen on imagining myself becoming as vibrant as the veg.” :D

  19. lindsay

    My sister/roommate & I love a good salad & we create amazing, beautiful, colorful, delicious salads. But when we eat them, it’s usually the only thing we eat – a big salad. It’s certainly a great idea to start your meal with a small salad though. Maybe I should buy some fixins & train myself not to make a giant salad monstrosity!

  20. Jeniece

    Confession. I tried your tried and true method of eating a salad every day for lunch (strike that, every working day) and it went well. For 3 months. After that the sight of lettuce made me ill. Like, sprint for the restroom ill. I’m still the only person in my family to willingly eat bok choy and brussel sprouts, but salad and I are cautious allies.

  21. gwendolyn

    I love the idea of fresh vegetables adorning a beautiful green bowl of salad, but I hate the taste of almost every vegetable/leafy green. Any tips for some better (not so bitter) tasting veggies anyone?

    1. Alice

      Gosh, taste is so subjective. I think this is where dressing/topping/seasoning comes in. With a good dressing, everything is delicious! But this is coming from a confessed vegetable-lover who will try any new green.

      Sweetcorn is sweet but calorie dense for a vegetable. Sugar snap peas and mange tout can be more sweet, you can get really sweet tomatoes and I find cucumber fairly bland in terms of flavour. Carrots are fairly sweet, I think.

      Vegetables can be an acquired taste. Sometimes persistence does pay off. If I had a last meal it would probably not involve kale, it would be a doughnut/cake/chocolate/ice cream mountain of death, but on a day-to-day basis eating a big pile of kale makes me feel a lot better physically than a sundae, and more virtuous.

      As for salads, I have been eating a huge one for lunch every day and really look forward to it. Like Andie, I enjoy the volume of it, the colours, the crunch and the freshness. Some day my main enjoyment is the topping, but I still get it in. It’s not really customary in England to have a starter before meals unless you are at a restaurant, and even then we often skip it, but we often have a salad alongside dinner. Nom.

  22. Aleksandra

    Another great one Andie.

    I love salads too, and when i feel hunger in the night i usually make a salad instead of eating something later i will regret.
    I know this amazing recipe for salad and it is with broccoli, one of the healthiest veggies on earth.

  23. Laura

    Hi Andi! Thanks for your posts! I love love love them! I have a quick question for you. I noticed that in your roasted broccoli post, you say you eat half your dinner plate in veggies. Do you still eat a salad before dinner as well as having half your plate in veg? Or do you do either or? Thank you for your time! I hope to meet you one day. I’ve lost 43 pounds since I found your book back in March. I have another 57 or so to go! :)

  24. Jake

    Why ‘aside from breakfast’? That’s the most beneficial time to have one!
    Starting a meal with fibrous foods such as salads are the most effective way to lower harmful blood sugar spikes and the subsequent insulin spikes and eventual insulin resistance that leads to body fat gain and diabetes. In turn that eliminates energy crashes in the hours after eating. The worst time to have an energy crash is in the morning post-breakfast, as that’s when most people are at work/their most active.

    Start your breakfast off with a small salad, like many middle eastern cultures do, and not only will you feel more energised later that morning, you just might lose a bit of weight too despite actually eating more!


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