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5 Essentials for Quick Salads for Dinner

The Protein

One of the quickest and most effective things you can do to improve the appeal of a simple salad is to add some protein. Protein delivers flavor and can transform a salad into a worthwhile meal instead of something that belongs in a bunny hutch. You may have to cajole or even threaten the rest of your family to eat salad, but you'll hear fewer complaints if you add some protein to the bowl.

For fast protein, the next time you prepare boneless chicken breasts, throw one more on the grill, dice it and freeze it. That way you can defrost and add a little chicken to your salad in seconds. The same goes for ham. Hard boil a half a dozen eggs ahead of time and reserve them in the fridge for salads, too. Serve them halved, quartered or chopped. Freeze a package of your favorite shredded cheese and just defrost an ounce at a time for salad. A small quantity of cheese will defrost on your countertop in around 10 minutes. If all this seems like too much work, you can always go with canned tuna or salmon instead.

You don't have to rely on animal protein, either. Add vegetable protein to your salad quickly and easily with beans. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, lima beans and black beans all make attractive and appealing additions to salad. They offer interesting texture, too, and they'll last quite a while in your fridge.