Enjoy a cool and easy lunch or dinner with this Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad. It’s full of chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers.
One of my favorite meals is a salad. It’s true. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved green salads. In fact, most times at a restaurant, that’s what I’ll choose as my main. Or I’ll make sure to order a side salad just because. I love salads.
These days as we’re trying to cut expenses for college, travel, and someday a home, I’m trying to pack lunches for my husband. It’s not that he can’t pack it himself, it’s just that he doesn’t always have the time. He’s a man after my own heart, packing cereal and milk to avoid the cost of eating out.
On the weekends when I have time, I try to prep a bunch of vegetables and proteins for easier lunch packing and my own lunchtime salad making. This Chicken Bacon Ranch is one of my favorites!
In college, I worked for the UCEN Dining Services in the Pantry. My responsibilities entailed prepping ingredients for salads and sandwiches. One of the perks was learning to make homemade dressings, like this Easy Homemade Ranch Dressing.
I regularly mix this up for salads, veggie dippers, and pizza nights. It’s so much better than that fake-tasting bottled stuff. If your family likes ranch dressing, I highly recommend making your own.
Plus, it goes GREAT on this salad:
This lunch or dinner feast is full of good stuff: spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cheddar cheese, crisp bacon, and Cajun-spiced chicken topped with the aforementioned real food ranch dressing.
The salad is easy to prep, very much make-ahead-friendly, and so very much better than anything a fast food restaurant can provide. You can cook up big batches of chicken and bacon and stir up some dressing at the start of the week, and enjoy great salads all week long. I think I could eat this every day. So good.
I use pre-cooked bacon that I store in the freezer. It’s so easy to pull just a few slices and crisp them on the stove or in the microwave. It takes a minute or two compared to thirty if I were cooking the bacon from the start on my own. Feel free to use uncooked bacon, but it will take longer to prep the salad.
- Crisp the bacon in a hot skillet for a minute or two. Remove from the pan and drain on paper toweling. Chop and set aside.
- Add the oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and Cajun Spice Blend. Cook, turning frequently, until the chicken is done, about ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, divide the spinach among four plates, or plastic boxes with lids if packing for work or school. Divide the bacon, tomatoes, onion, cheddar, and cucumber among the four dishes.
- When the chicken is done, remove it from the heat to a cutting board and chop it into bite sized pieces. Divide the chicken among the salads. If you’re making the salads in advance, allow the chicken to cool before adding it to the dish.
- Serve the salads with ranch dressing on the side. Salads can be prepped and stored in the fridge for up to four days.
Nutritional values are approximate and are based on 1/4 of the recipe. Refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 4 days.
Make-ahead meals can make your month! Grab this month’s meal plans to take it easy and enjoy great home-cooked meals.