We all have that moment of panic approaching a salad bar. Your eyes dash from the vegetables, to the grains, to the meats, to the proteins, to the cheeses, and then on top of all of that, to the array of dressings. When you're feeling determined to be healthy, but are hangry as hell, here's how to slay in a salad bar situation. 

For the meat lovers...

Parisa Soraya

Just because your bowl looks like a sea of green doesn't mean that underneath that green there isn't some macho meat. A popular combination is chicken and bacon bits. Another way to get your proper serving of meat is to ask to double-up, or if you're serving yourself, plop down four spoonfuls of meat. 

For the protein fanatics...

Salad bars are basically your dreamland. Now, salad bars have stocked up on their protein sources. You can choose from hard-boiled eggs, avocado, chickpeas, black beans, tempeh, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and hummus. All these ingredients are sure to leave you satisfied and definitely full. 

For the vegetarians...

kale, parsley, herb, salad, vegetable, broccoli
Elizabeth Layman

Obviously, you all thrive in a salad bar situation. Recently, beets have been making a strong appearance in salad bowls along with various other roasted root vegetables like parsnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and turnips.

Three other classic veggies that are on the rise and must be added are squash, broccoli, and roasted Brussels sprouts (we don't mess with plain Brussels). Don't forget to throw in either basil, cilantro, or onion for a strong pop of flavor.

If you're feeling the grains...  

Salads have been slowly transitioning to grain bowls. Many people like to combine a lettuce of their choice with either quinoa or rice. There are more rice flavors emerging in salad bars like wild, black, or Mexican rice.

This way, the grain doesn't take over and you still get your necessary intake of carbs. Lentils have also started making their way to the scene as a good source of fiber and as a filling nutrient-dense addition to any salad. 

For the dairy queens...

I can relate to you on a personal level trying to decide which cheese is the best to add to your salad. Goat cheese and feta are definitely the healthiest options and also taste great. Feta is more on the salty side, whereas goat has a milder taste, so I would add feta into salads that have vegetables that are blander in taste.

There's always the classic shredded cheddar cheese option, which you can never go wrong with. If you're feeling bold and adventurous, I would go with mozzarella and Parmesan for more of an Italian zest. Whether it's a classic cob or you want a huge pop of flavor, blue cheese is always the move.

For the dressing diva...  

I would say that this is the hardest part of compiling your ideal salad. For the creamy dressing lovers, you can't go wrong with ranch, blue cheese, Caesar, Russian, or thousand island. For someone who is looking for an extra kick, you should 100% go for a dressing with pesto flavor, chipotle flavor, some Sriracha, or a spicy Asian peanut. 

For a light dressing, it's best to turn to the classic balsamic, red wine, lemon juice, and olive oil combination or even mix it up with some green goddess. 

For the PERFECT salad...

If you're going into a salad bar ready to try everything it has to offer, you have the right mindset. The perfect salad should have one meat, one or two proteins, a grain, three to four vegetables, and of course, cheese.

You balance all the food groups into one delicious bowl that satisfies your hunger and surprisingly tastes just as dank.