How Do You Eat a Salad Quickly and Efficiently?
June 19, 2022 10:54 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to eat more salad, to lose weight. I found a salad I like. Problem is that it takes me an eternity to eat a salad. Forks don't spear leaves efficiently. I want to eat it and be done. Tell me how you eat a salad efficiently.

(As a caveat: someone suggested chopsticks. I have no idea how chopsticks would speed it up, nor do I know how to use them.)
posted by MollyRealized to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
To eat a salad cut it up smaller like at Chopt. Then you can take forkfuls (or spoonfuls) that are more similar to when you eat other foods
posted by raccoon409 at 10:56 PM on June 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

Could you chop your salad leaves much smaller when making your salad? That way you could pile the salad on top of your fork instead of spearing the leaves individually. But technically… slow eating is good for you and good for weight loss too, especially thoroughly chewing your food.
posted by PardonMyFrench at 11:00 PM on June 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: A salad is only one tortilla away from becoming a wrap. Much easier to take a big bite and chew it.

Chopsticks do make it easier to get a mouthful without the spearing problem, but if you don't already know how to use them, salad might be a difficult thing to start off with.
posted by meemzi at 11:37 PM on June 19, 2022 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Oxo sells a thing that a lot of "nutritarians" use to eat massive quantities of salad twice per day.
posted by MagnificentVacuum at 11:39 PM on June 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

Chop everything into smaller than bite sized pieces so you don't have to fold any leaves or stab any chunks.

Then, if your salad dressing helps things stick together, use a fork as you would a spoon.

If your dressing is more vinaigrette like i.e. won't help things stick together use an actual spoon.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:14 AM on June 20, 2022

Romaine lettuce is so much easier to chop fine because of its long thin shape - just lay it flat and work from one end to the other. Napa cabbage works too, but I find for one person that one head of romaine is two sittings, and that it lasts well in the fridge while whole. If you chop it in strips less than half an inch thick it is easy to spear and fits in your mouth. Works well with sliced radish and a finely chopped scallion or two without making the eating awkward.

On a related note, 2tbsp balsamic, 2tbsp olive oil and a tsp of honey, shaken in a jar, is a lazy man's salad dressing. Not so much that your salad is swimming in goop that drips off, but enough to add flavour and easy to spice up with mustard, chilli flakes or black pepper.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 12:19 AM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Definitely chopsticks with chopped up salads (especially if you tend to have whole cherry tomatoes and you're not used to handling slippery spheres with chopsticks), for me. How to use chopsticks this way: similar to how we eat rice out of a bowl. You can look up videos I'm sure but it's basically, place the lip of the bowl close to your mouth and use the chopsticks to shovel the salad. This is the fast-eating style. The more leisurely way is really to just pick the salad bits in little clumps and eat them. The first style is great to finish up the salad and/or if it's a little wet with all the dressing and you don't want to spill.

The combo move btw if you don't want to hold up the bowl is to have your left hand hold a spoon to assist. Some use the spoon hand to prevent drips, others use the spoon as the main feeder tool in this combo. Basically this is the noodle-eating style.
posted by cendawanita at 12:31 AM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Of course the other way is to straight up use your right hand, ala the south/southeast asian method. The handfeeding method basically scoops up the food with your fingers in a scoop shape, and importantly, not to jam the fingers into your mouth, instead rest them against your mouth and push the food with your thumb which is at the back of the food all this time. For something as bothersomely irregular as a salad, if I'm somewhere where I can wash my hands, I do it this way.
posted by cendawanita at 12:37 AM on June 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

For a low-carb/extra vegetably option, can you put the salad mixture into a lettuce/seaweed/cabbage/etc leaf and eat it like a wrap or san choy bau?
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 12:51 AM on June 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

I put it in a sandwich, preferably with ciabatta bread toasted in a panini press. HUGE increase in salad consumption for me when I discovered that was a thing I could do.

Now I want one. :(
posted by The Adventure Begins at 1:21 AM on June 20, 2022

If no one else is around, I use a spoon :-)

Also my new salad-time saver technique is to use a food processor to chop up half a red cabbage, half a green cabbage, and then a few carrots, then put all this in a tupperware in the fridge. It will keep fresh for a surprising number of days, and means I can quickly grab a bowl of it and add dressing, nuts, perishable/wet salad ingredients like tomatoes and avocado etc if I want to.
posted by EllaEm at 5:47 AM on June 20, 2022

Endorsing hand and chopstick methods as described above. If you prefer a fork, it's also way easier to eat salad from a (individual-size) wooden salad bowl! Your fork doesn't go skittering around in the same way as it does on ceramic, and the dressed vegetables don't slip as much, and it's easier to spear things as a result.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:18 AM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Seconding romaine.
posted by slidell at 6:23 AM on June 20, 2022

Best answer: i use a curved metal knife and just chop directly into my big salad bowl. the smaller size really helps with the eating size.

also generally trying salads with less lettuce (like israeli salad) was good for me.

also nthing romaine.
posted by wowenthusiast at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2022

I routinely take a pair of kitchen shears to my bowls of salad. It's so much easier to eat when the greens are smaller. And yes, a spoon is an acceptable utensil for a finely chopped salad.
posted by hydra77 at 9:29 AM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Came in to say chop it up, but that is well covered. I just attack my bowl of stuff with a kitchen scissors, like hydra77. Amazing how it reduces the apparent volume. No need for special chopping bowl or accessories.
posted by Glinn at 9:33 AM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I chop up all the leafy parts, as described above, but I was still very frustrated in getting stuff onto a fork/spoon and into mouth. Then I tried using a pair of bamboo tongs, of the sort often used to get toast out of toaster slots (for example) and I am very happy with the results. The tong ends are wide enough to grab a good quantity of stuff, and the fact that they're bamboo makes them grippier than metal or plastic utensils.
posted by Kat Allison at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Pita bread or other pocket-breads enjoy being stuffed silly with salad. I can also use a larger leaf to make small wraps or ssam style mouthfuls of your main salad.
posted by Iteki at 11:43 AM on June 20, 2022

Big +1 to PardonMyFrench's point that eating faster is contrary to your stated goal. The fact that salad slows your meal down is a feature, not a bug. You take longer to eat, giving you time to feel full.

This is doubly true for putting the salad into a tortilla, pita, or piece of bread. A major point of salad (for weight loss) is that it is not made of things which are not salad. Turning the salad into not-salad (however delicious and rapidly-edible the result might be!) reduces its efficacy for your stated goal.
posted by daveliepmann at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

You can chop up most of your salad, but then use sturdy(ish) leaves of romaine to scoop it up and eat it, like one does with tabouleh salad. Or, based on this principle, serve the salad in the romaine leaves, so they are easy to pick up and eat, like little edible spoons.

Or since right now this moment I am cooking dolmades, I think you could make little lettuce "dolmas", stuffed with salad. I feel this is a thing that I just don't know the name of.
posted by mumimor at 12:27 PM on June 20, 2022

> If no one else is around, I use a spoon :-)

Don't tell anyone, but I use my fingers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:32 PM on June 20, 2022

A salad is only one tortilla away from becoming a wrap. Much easier to take a big bite and chew it.

Rice/tapioca paper will do the same with less calories. I buy them in the largest size I can find and then make salad-rolls the size of a burrito.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:40 PM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I asked this question about specifically non-leafy salads a few years ago. Leafless salads take way less time for me to eat as lettuce etc takes up much of the volume of the salad. I had the additional criteria of low carb but you could just ignore that.
posted by ToddBurson at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2022

I enjoy salad more when I eat it with my fingers. No idea why. I just put the dressing on the side and dip as I go.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:10 PM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I always like to say chopsticks are like a manual transmission car -- you can get more control and precision if you know what you're doing, but if not it's probably just a pain in the ass. I ate many salads with chopsticks in my post-Asia grad school days, but I doubt this approach will be useful if you've never gotten down with pho or sannakji.
posted by charlemangy at 5:09 PM on June 20, 2022

I had a salad today in a way that was different from usual and I want to point out my mistake which might help you out here in addition to the other good advice you've gotten. You want to eat salad out of a bowl, preferably one that has steep walls so it's easier to get stuff on your fork (or to be pushed around with chopsticks) A lot of times people are trying to eat salad off of a plate and that's a more difficult way to eat salad. Hope this is helpful.
posted by jessamyn at 6:54 PM on June 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

If you aren’t into chopsticks, because they make you slower, get a pair of chef tweezers. They’re like chopsticks but easy. Granted I have them nearby pretty much all the time because it’s my job, but they’re my go to salad utensil most days.
posted by Grandysaur at 9:11 PM on June 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

When I had access to a salad bar at work, instead of trying to eat at my usual pace, my approach was to find an activity (usually watching a video or listening to a podcast) that I could do while eating, so that I could take my time. Eating quickly just meant I was more likely to choke on an errant bit of whatever so slowing down was necessary for me.

Seconding to use a bowl if you aren't already. Plates just let the stuff slide around way too much.
posted by Aleyn at 10:41 PM on June 20, 2022

Are you using cutlery the American way? I've never encountered the problem you're describing whilst using a knife and fork the European way.
posted by Faff at 4:10 AM on June 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

spring roll them. soak rice paper sheets and then wrap it all up like a burrito. less calories in rice paper wraps than tortillas.
posted by zsh2v1 at 1:57 PM on June 21, 2022

Best answer: My approach:
Skip the lettuce and other leafy greens. Too much work to rinse, too much fork effort to eat.

Instead, chop solid vegetables into small enough pieces that you can just eat with a spoon: bell peppers, celery, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, etc.

Chop up a bunch in advance and put them into serving-size containers in the fridge. Then you can eat really efficiently. You just need to grab one and a spoon, maybe pour some vinaigrette on top for flavor, and snarf it right down. Mozzarella pearls or chopped up bits of Babybel cheese on top for protein to make it more well-rounded, nutritionally.
posted by cadge at 2:03 PM on June 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

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