I keep hearing the phrase “back to routine” repeated, as back-to-school season also means a different schedule for many of the grown-ups this fall. Whether you’re going back into an office or shifting your routine with kids back in school, I always find the first few weeks of September to be a re-setting period — it’s my New Years of the fall! With that comes a chance to start fresh and set myself up for success with good habits – like preparing healthy, smart lunches (the bar is low, since most days I’m grabbing a half-eaten PB&J slice of a toddler’s lunch plate!). A big hearty salad with crunchy Little Leaf Farms greens is one of my go-to options, and I thought I’d share a few ways that I keep lunch salads feeling new – a refresh to your salad routine!Think outside the dressing. Before you drizzle your salad with the same ranch dressing, take a look around your fridge for some alternatives! Swap dressings for a scoop of veggie dips or a flavored hummus instead for some unique texture and flavor. One of the reasons that I love Little Leaf Farms salad greens is that their crunch holds up to a heartier topping like hummus. No soggy leaves!Go vegetarian. My brain and stomach immediately go to chopped up chicken on top of my lunch time salad, and oftentimes it’s because I’m trying to use up leftovers and reduce food waste – a noble cause! But to keep things interesting, I like to swap the classic chicken option for some vegetarian proteins. Roasted chickpeas is my one my favorites because they can be seasoned in tons of different ways, and they’re super filling! Roasted sweet potatoes, frozen falafel or chopped up veggie burgers are another great way to add in vegetarian protein!

Crouton alternatives. Croutons are a favorite at our house, it’s the main way I get my 4-year-old to eat salads! But there are so many other fun alternatives to add crunchy goodness into the mix that will keep your desk lunch feeling inspired. Try instead to mix in a variety of nuts and seeds, or crumble up cheese crisps or flavored crackers, even torn bits of baguette or pita.  Crunch is my key element in salads, so these crunchy add-ons pair perfectly with Little Leaf Farm’s fresh, local greens that have a signature crunch too!The leftovers special. Let your leftovers be the inspiration! After pizza night, I save extra toppings like peppers, mushrooms, onions, olives, cheese and pepperoni and chop them up to make a “pizza salad.” Have a taco night with your family? Save the last scoop of rice and beans and make a Mexican salad bowl for lunch. Sometimes the leftovers don’t guide you to a certain theme, but the creative combinations in a clean-out-the-fridge salad can be some of my favorites. The end of a parmesan cheese rind grated over some of my daughter’s strawberries and Little Leaf Farms lettuce is perfection, or a few pieces of cold pasta, deli ham, and cubed cheese make for a quick chef’s salad. The combinations are endless, and you’re saving food waste from the trash – a lunchtime win-win!

Please note: This post was created in partnership with Little Leaf Farms. All opinions, images and content are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support this site.